Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What others were feeling like today

Trawling through the copious books in my family home today I found one called 'The Assassin's Cloak - An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists'. Given that blogging is, or at least can be, the modern form of diary-writing, I picked it up with great interest. And what a book! An imposing looking tome of nearly 700 pages, it goes through selected highlights form famous diarists for every day of the calendar year. Naturally, I wanted to see what people were talking about on the 14th of May. Here's three of my favourites:

Something dreadful - or eerie is going on all around us. Every house door is locked. You can't visit your firends because no-one opens up to a knock. If you're lucky you run into someone you want to visit on his way home, and after a brief exchange he quickly slips behind the door, which is instantly locked behind him. Why? Because everyone is afraid of Russian soldiers, who try to force their way into homes at every opportunity. Granted, many of them are harmless, but many aren't, and those that just rob you aren't the worst. Above all people are afraid, and rightly so, that they'll rape the girls and women in the house. I wish I could prove that the people who tell stories about these sorts of rapes are liars. But I can't!

John Rabe

A little stirring of sex today. Not much. It occurs to me that, of all the sensual pleasures, sex is the only one which depends partly on reciprocation. That's its power. imagine if an orange said: 'Darling I was just longing for you to eat me. I was so afraid that horrible old man would. He's not at all my type.'

Christopher Isherwood

I find it difficult to write each day, but if I don't I'm swamped with guilt. Where does the compunction come from?
Perhaps I inherited it from Dad - he could never keep still for a moment; even when reading a newspaper he would tap his foot keeping time to silence. Back and forth I go into the garden, like the boy with anorexia who weighed himself every five minutes. At rest, a nervous pit quickly develops in my stomach and overwhelms me, forcing my mind to change direction.
I'm sleeping better, even have nights when I do not wake. But awake, I have the concentration of a grasshopper. Only the pressure of a film set keeps me focused for a day.

Derek Jarman

I love all three of these posts for the differing feelings they convey, and simply for the fact that reading them adds a little bit of history to a day that to me, along with most people, would otherwise be an entirely inauspicious one.

John Rabe ( was an extremely interesting guy who seems to have been something of an Oskar Schindler type figure to thousands of Chinese refugees during a Japanese invasion in 1938.

Christopher Isherwood ( was an Anglo-American novelist, who seems to have been quite preoccupied with sexuality through much of his work.

Derek Jarman ( was a film-maker and gay rights activist who died in 1994 of an AIDS related illness.

You can buy the Assassin's Cloak at

Or, if you know me, you could ask really nicely to borrow it.

I will no doubt return to this book again when in need of inspiration for a post.

9 comment(s):

Darren said...

Eh, Andy, may I eh, please, eh, borrow that book?

I loved the line, "even when reading a newspaper he would tap his foot keeping time to silence".

I think I've come across Isherwood before. :P

Andrew said...

"I think I've come across Isherwood before. :P"

I hope to God that wasn't innuendo Byrne!

The "But I can't!" line form John Rabe's entry is proving extremely emotive to me today.

You may of course borrow the book but I will need to shamelessly plagiarise from it again at some point.

Darragh said...

Well feck me, you're 5 days in and you're already fluffy.


emordino said...

What a nifty idea. How many entries are there per day?

Darren said...

I don't do inyourendo!

As for John Rabe's entry, it is a striking post and there is clearly many more stories behind it, but is there a particular reason it was emotive for you yesterday?

Andrew said...

Darragh, cheers for alerting me to that. Mr. Mulley has been duly thanked.

Emordino, thanks for visting. I think there's anything between 5 to 12 entries for each day, it really depends on the quality of them.

Darren, perhaps it was my pulsating headache that made Rabe's slightly desperate-sounding last line stand out for me, I'm not too sure. Heaps of Nurofen and a good sleep later and I'm right as rain.

Unknown said...

Is that Derek Jarman entry from Smiling in Slow Motion? Such a lovely book.

And Isherwood was ALL about the sex apparently...

Any why no room to put in name/URLs below? Boo hiss.

Unknown said...

PS And welcome to blogworld!

Andrew said...

I'm assuming this is the mighty Ms. Gleeson commenting. You're something of a blogging hero of mine so its extremely flattering to have you visit. Thanks for pointing out the name/url flaw on the page, I hadn't realised and it has now been rectified.
I'll be quite honest and admit that i'm not sure where the Derek Jarman quote came form, the Assassin's Cloak didn't mention it on that page and I didn't check any further.