Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
25 december 1942

JOAN WYNDHAM

(pictured), a young WAAF, writes in her journal:

"My first Christmas in Scotland. I had behaved so well for the last few months, and everyone here thought I was such a nice, quiet intellectual little girl - but not any more! We were up at the men's Mess, and it was fantastic - colossal buffet, unlimited booze. I can't remember when I got so drunk or felt so exhilarated, except possibly when I went out with my dad. I have an awful feeling I called the CO a stinker - it was one of those religious arguments about whether the popes had mistresses.

A very nice pongo drove me home and wanted to kiss me but I said No, and he said, God, what a swine I am trying to take advantage of a gel when she's tight!

Mama sent me a kettle - unobtainable up here - some ginger nuts, some Persian oil, and a beautiful silk kimono. The girls tell me I look the personification of sin in it."

25 December 1913

RAYMOND ASQUITH,

son of the prime

minister, writes to

Lady Diana Manners:

"I must apologise for sending you Aubrey Beardsley's drawings but I do so want to lead you back from your tainted and artificial ideals for a simpler saner more childlike outlook upon life. Anyhow they will do for Bonar Law's bedroom next time he stays with you. Here we have to knock along as best we may without the faintest element of corruption - not a hint of decay, not a breath of Bakst; on the contrary, Christmas cards, Morris dances, children's prattle, woolwork, goodwill and so forth - all that was ever joyous and clear and fresh."

25 December 1911

WILLIAM LASHLY,

engineer on Scott's last Antarctic expedition, records in his diary:

"Christmas Day and a good one. We have done 15 miles over a very changing surface. First of all it was very crevassed and pretty rotten; we were often in difficulties as to which way we should tackle it. I had the misfortune to drop clean through, but was stopped with a jerk when at the end of my harness. It was not of course a very nice sensation, especially on Christmas Day and being my birthday as well. Anyhow Mr Evans, Bowers and Crean hauled me out and Crean wished me many happy returns of the day. I thanked him politely and the others laughed, but were pleased I was not hurt bar a bit of a shake."

Ian Irvine

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