Days Like These

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6 September 1989


the film director,

writes in his diary

"My aunt Moyra confirmed all sorts of details of family life, especially about Gran's sister Doris who offered herself at the age of eighty to the tabloids as the `first woman in space'.

When she was five Doris had bundled her into a taxi one morning with a huge bunch of red rubber roses and said `Buckingham Palace'; then after a little while leant forward and quietly added `Back door, not front'. Queen Mary had the Palace decked with Doris's roses, which were scented.

Moyra also filled me in on Doris's practical joke at the Dorchester - in which she had managed to get the best table for a Christmas Eve dinner after she had been turned down. She had her son impersonate the secretary of an Indian maharani on the telephone.

The hotel's `mistake' was rectified immediately - Doris arrived wearing a tablecloth. The hotel ignored this, the waiters said nothing and she left without paying. Royalty does not handle money. She did pay for the meal, however, by appearing on the front of the Daily Express wearing her tablecloth. Poor Moyra, still a child, was dispatched to settle the bill."

9 September 1945


records his visit to

Hiroshima, a month after

the explosion of the first atomic bomb

"At three miles from the centre of the devastation the houses were already destroyed, the roofs had fallen in and the beams jutted out from the wreckage of their walls. But so far it was only the usual spectacle presented by towns damaged by ordinary high explosives.

About two and a half miles from the centre all the buildings had been burnt out and destroyed. Only traces of the foundations and piles of debris and rusty charred ironwork were left. This zone was like the devastated areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe after the mass fall of incendiaries.

At three-quarters of a mile from the centre nothing at all was left. Everything had disappeared. It was a stony waste littered with debris and twisted girders. The incandescent breath of the fire had swept away every obstacle and all that remained upright were one or two fragments of stone walls and a few stoves which had remained incongruously on their bases.

We got out of the car and made our way slowly through the ruins into the centre of the dead city. Absolute silence reigned in the whole necropolis."