Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
1 May 1871

MARY CLARKE MOHL,

an Englishwoman living in Paris under the Commune, writes to a friend:

"Their conception of a commune is insane. They want to make a state of it. For instance, they appropriate to the town of Paris all the great establishments of the state, and declare that they will indemnify France for them and buy from it the Louvre and its galleries, the Jardin des Plantes, the Biblioteques, the Facultes. They pretend to be at the head of a federation of republican communes of Europe. They claim all the legislative powers of a sovereign state, and want to change the distribution and property of capital and work. And this is what gives them their most sincere adherents - workmen who have been addled by insane discussions about the rights of capital and work."

2 May 1945

JOAN WYNDHAM,

writer, serving in the WAAF,

records in her diary:

"They've announced on Hamburg radio that Hitler is dead! Berlin has surrendered to the Russians. As soon as we came off watch we all piled into cars and set out for the nearest pub... When we had drunk so many toasts that we could hardly stand, someone took over the piano and we sang until closing time.... The ride home was a nightmare - we went tearing through the night, whooping and singing, with screeching brakes and screaming horns, and when we reached the RAF Mess we found it practically ablaze. Some types had got hold of "Fido" the stuff they use to clear fog, and had it lit all over the bars. They were dancing round it, wearing huge negro masks from the Christmas pantomime and waving broomsticks - a fantastic sight!"

26 April 1972

MAVIS GALLANT,

Canadian writer, writes in her notebook:

"Students are marching all over Paris: `Liberez nos camarades!' meaning those who were sentenced by a monkey court on Sunday. From the Bs' living- room you see Seine, sunset, expanse of quais, very few cars, scarcely any traffic, many police. Christine (15) says, `But it is my duty to be out there with the students.' Nothing doing. However I notice she does not eat her dinner with us. Has it by herself in the kitchen. Almost seems like the heart of the matter - not with the adults, not with the kids. In the Metro, I find I have tears in my eyes. Astonished... It is tear gas... By Saint-Placide it is almost unbearable, prickling under the lids, but so funny to see us all weeping that I begin to laugh."

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