In Competition No. 2937 you were invited to submit extracts from the diaries of the famous that their writers did not wish the world to see.
Josh Ekroy impressed, lifting the lid on F.R. Leavis’s and C.P. Snow’s chummy trysts; Alan Millard wasn’t alone in outing God-botherer Richard Dawkins; and here’s a snippet from Sylvia Fairley’s Wordsworth:
Walked around Ullswater in pensive mood, unable to find a suitable rhyme for ‘hills’. My dear sister, as ever, solved my predicament … the muse inspired her, and she has completed the poem already.
It was an enjoyable entry: hats off all round. The winners take £25. The bonus fiver belongs to Basil Ransome-Davies.
Sunday: another away draw yesterday. We mustn’t suffer a slump in morale, though. I see it as a point gained, not two lost. Some of the lads think differently, as if they’d been reading Schopenhauer, but I say pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I did a spot of knitting to relax in the p.m. (after a truly wonderful quiche!), then read Pale Fire till dinner. I don’t know why, there’s something about metafiction that really grabs me. It’s almost as if there is nothing beyond the text.
Monday: a physio session to get me limber. Then I centred myself to do some reflecting on Jose’s dismissal. Was it karma or just a sequence of poor results? Or are those false alternatives? Do we delude ourselves that there is always a defining moment?
Tuesday: home to a bunch of fucking cloggers tonight. We’ll show them who can clog.
Basil Ransome-Davies/John Terry
I was frightened by a mouse today. A diary is a confessional and I am glad to confess this paura. It was not the thing you feel when the man next to you takes a bullet and his last sound is a word you cannot hear and you will never forget. But it was a fright. Mice do this to me, not rats. Rats turn to fight, teeth bared, eyes glaring defiance. I learned how to club a rat before I was ten. But who goes mano-a-mano with a mouse? They leap in a grey blur and skitter from sight and the air fills with a silent terror. It is good to write these things and set down the open truth. But there are people who turn their envy into bile and take any chance to belittle my work. So I shall tear out and destroy this page tomorrow.
W.J. Webster/Ernest Hemingway
Monday: woke mid-morning. Ish. Couldn’t remember a thing about last night’s soirée. Did this and that until lunchtime, as one does. Unmemorable lunch. Took my constitutional in the afternoon; one of the usual routes, though I can’t recall which, not that the remotest significance could be attached to the decision or its consequences, even if I could. Anyway, I bumped into some compte I used to run into at parties years ago. We blathered inconsequentially about something — art, probably, or some classical ditty of which neither of us knew the provenance — but what exactly we said has vanished as surely as the fez (or was it a beard?) he used to sport. The gist of our conversation was that life’s a funny old business; there might be a novel in that. Later, at tea, came over queer while eating a madeleine. Still, the moment passed, so no harm done.
Adrian Fry/Marcel Proust
Sunday: breakfast is bacon, not Bacon, not the philosopher, the pig if you will, still to be cooked, the fat with the meat, all of it gristle, still to be cooked, the bread, ah the bread, white and not brown, the wholemeal, best if sliced, this way or that way, I’ll cook the breakfast, after the writing, something to look forward to, breakfast and not writing, who cares about words, not with the fry, no comparison at all, last night the weeklies, joy in that, Boys Own Paper, Chum the best one, no comparison, morning for bacon, fresh back from matins, bells still pealing, ready for rashers, sermon still echoing, none of the claptrap, Jesus is risen, bacon will sizzle, I believe always, heaven my saviour, not as a catholic, the Anglicans right, and afterwards bacon, and also the football, cricket so dull, small ball and dull, bacon, I’ll feed.
Bill Greenwell/Samuel Beckett
April 1: just banging ideas around today I got a crazy notion. What if there’s a psychological trinity, a subjective analogue of the theological one? It might appeal to some of the nutcases I have to listen to. Could be a smart career move, all it needs is chutzpah and a scientific-sounding vocabulary.
April 4: I tried it out on Herr X, some nebbish obviously in love with his mother (memo to self: could this be worked into the 3-in-1 mumbo-jumbo?), whose tongue was hanging out. Imagining an inner beast needing to be mastered by some kind of higher self thrills him. He even calls it ‘that thing’ as if it were his schlong. Not a bad name for it, actually.
April 10: I’ve set the ball rolling, fanned the flames of controversy. It’s do or die, but the name of Freud will never be unknown.
G.M. Davis/Sigmund Freud
Importuned by Boswell, I attended upon him to the Strand where he acquainted us with two drabs, with one of whom, I own, I engaged in low commerce. She praised my performance, doubtless a stratagem to extract from me a greater emolument for her services.
To Church this morning, to beg forgiveness for this transgression against morality, my conscience being extra pricked by recollecting that this offence occurred on the anniversary of my dear Tetty’s death.
I perceived Hodge to be out of countenance, perhaps in reproach of my conduct, it being wonderful how our Creator has endowed all his creatures with a sensibility for their owners’ frailties. Howsoever, a dish of his favourite oysters appeared to abate this displeasure.
Woke up this morning to find my privies discharging a foul stream. Summoned Levet, who after scrutiny volunteered to hasten to borrow from Boswell’s stock of Mercury.
Barry Baldwin/Samuel Johnson
No. 2940: Seuss talk
You are invited to supply Dr Seuss’s take on the US presidential race. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 16 March.
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