Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
25 July 1889

ISABELLA BIRD,

travelling in Persia, writes in

her journal:

"Aziz Khan [her guide] has been irrepressible lately. His Arab mare is his idol, not because she is a lovable animal and carries him well, but because she is a valuable property. He fusses about her ceaselessly, and if he were allowed would arrange the marches and the camping-grounds with reference solely to her well-being. She is washed from her nose to the tip of her tail every evening, clothed, and kept by the campfire. She is a dainty, heartless frivolous creature, very graceful and pretty, and in character much like a selfish spoiled woman."

27 July 1976

PETER HALL,

theatre director, writes in his diary:

"Looked again at the rough-cut of LWT's National Theatre film. Larry's [Laurence Olivier's] contribution is wonderful. He delicately hints that the Board had not liked any of his ideas for a successor. Then, while paying tribute to me, he says they must have had me in mind all the time, but I was not a rival, but a friendly enemy. So he shows how hurt he was, and how wrong the Board was, and yet he's nice about me. It's an absolutely masterly performance."

27 July 1861

MARY BOYKIN CHESNUT,

wife of a Union officer, writes

in her diary:

"Here is one of Mr Chesnut's anecdotes of the Manassas [a battle in the American Civil War]. He had in his pocket a small paper of morphine. He put it there to alleviate pain. Later in the day he saw a man lying under a tree who begged for water. He wore the Confederate uniform. As Mr Chesnut carried him the water, he asked where he was from. The man refused to answer. `Poor fellow, you have no cause to care about all that now. You can't hurt me and God knows I would not harm you. What else do you want?' `Straighten my legs. They are doubled up beneath me.' The legs were smashed. Mr Chesnut gave him some morphine to let him know at least a few moments of peace. He said, `This is my first battle. I hope my heart will not grow harder.'"

Ian Irvine

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