Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
10 April 1980

PHILIP TOYNBEE,

writer, observes in his journal:

"I can remember only two occasions when my parents expressed open irritation with each other in front of me. Easy to say that the conventions of their class and period restrained them; easy to say that this suppression of their true feelings probably contributed to the final and deeply embittered bust-up. But how I respect them both for that surface dignity they maintained! What a gross fault it has been to suppose that restraint must be equated with suppression; that there is something honest, even admirable, about an immediate, public exhibition of angry feelings."

13 April 1930

ISAK DINESEN

(Karen Blixen), novelist, writes to her

mother from Somalia:

"At long last Fathima had a little girl on Sunday: I was almost about to believe it was a false rumour. She is so delighted with the baby and is well; I think she is especially pleased that it is a girl. In the conditions of the Muhammadan world, where men and women are so far away from each other in work, interests and life in general, and really only come near each other when, as Goldschmidt says, they are `either to dance or be united in wedlock' - and anyway I'm not at all sure that Somali men and women do dance much together - I think that the women gradually grow unable really to feel anything for the male sex - not even for their sons.

The men's whole world is too incomprehensible to them; I do not think they have any respect for it at all, except in so far as it provides food; but the real, actual and reasonable world is that of women, and with a little girl they feel they have something that is close to them and belongs to them, while a boy will sooner or later be drawn into the strange and irrelevant existence of men."

15 April 1778

PARSON WOODFORDE

incumbent of Western Longeville, notes in his diary:

"We breakfasted, dined, supped and slept again at home. Brewed a vessel of strong Beer today. My two large Piggs, by drinking some Beer grounds taken out of one of the Barrels today, got so amazingly drunk by it, that they were not able to stand and appeared like dead things almost, and so remained all night from dinner time today. I never saw Piggs so drunk in my life."

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