They wrote it this week: A cricket star is drunk, and not just ...

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They wrote it this week: A cricket star is drunk, and not just with success

Extracts from diaries and letters written between September 14 and September 20

Journalist
English cricket captain Lionel Tennyson didn't let the game stand in the way of a colourful nightlife.
bat's entertainment English cricket captain Lionel Tennyson didn't let the game stand in the way of a colourful nightlife.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

September 14

1921, London

I went to White’s before dinner where I saw Lionel [Tennyson, the most celebrated cricketer of his day]. He had made 78 that afternoon playing for the rest of England against the champion county. Pretty good considering he went to bed drunk at 4 o’clock this morning and had done the same for the last three nights.

  • Duff Cooper, British politician, diplomat and writer, 1890-1954.

The Duff Cooper Diaries edited by John Julius Norwich, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005

Journalist Adam Kellett-Long was one of the few Westerners to witness the dramatic events behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
type ou Journalist Adam Kellett-Long was one of the few Westerners to witness the dramatic events behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

1968, Moscow

Lunch with Adam Kellett-Long, slight, young, seemingly shy chief of the Reuters desk here, at his flat in the “Foreign Correspondents’ Ghetto”. The flat is nice. He says that if ever he wants any improvements all he has to do is say so out loud and prompt action follows: he is permanently bugged. All the foreign correspondents are – and the diplomats – and the visitors. He told me the story of the correspondent who arrived in Moscow and, searching for the bugging devices, unscrewed every nut and bolt in his hotel bedroom – including the twelve sinister bolts set in a circle immediately under his bed. As he finished his task, the whole building shook as, on the floor below him, the ballroom chandelier crashed to the ground.

  • Gyles Brandreth, British writer, politician and entertainer, b.1948.

Something Sensational to Read in the Train: The Diary of a Lifetime by Gyles Brandreth, John Murray, 2009

Princess Marie Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria's fifth child, Helena.
pearl abuse Princess Marie Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria's fifth child, Helena.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

September 15

1933, sailing in the Aegean Sea

[To Lady Diana Cooper] I eat with a highly intelligent princess calle Infanta Beatrix [of Spain] who tells me about the hereditary diseases of the royal families. There is another princess called Marie Louise who is the centre of the rowdy set and can be seen any evening standing rounds of champagne cocktails to rows of tarts in highly-coloured cache-sexes and brassieres.

  • Evelyn Waugh, British writer, 1903-1966 (Princess Marie Louise, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was in fact the very soul of Victorian propriety.)

Mr Wu & Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh & Diana Cooper edited by Artemis Cooper, Hodder & Stoughton, 1991

September 16

1829, London

I have been living at Fulham at Lord Warncliffe’s villa for six or seven weeks; I have lived here in idleness and luxury, giving dinners, and wasting my time and my money rather more than usual. I have read next to nothing since I have been here; I am ashamed to think how little – in short, a most unprofitable life.

  • Charles Greville, British politician, courtier and cricketer, 1794-1865.

The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV and King William IV edited by Henry Reeve, D Appleton and Company, 1875

2016, rural Wiltshire

Giles [her husband] dislikes the new “liberated” television adverts for sanitary towels and pile cream and incontinence pads. Taboos are broken daily. He dislikes the new unpleasant trend of showing people, in television plays, sitting on the loo, even “shaking the drips”. “It’s only a matter of time until the cameras are positioned actually in the lavatory bowl itself to make the programme more gritty.”

  • Mary Killen, British writer and television personality.

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Giles Wood and Mary Killen, Virgin Books, 2018

A German plane that crashed into a French position during World War 1.
it crossed the line A German plane that crashed into a French position during World War 1.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

September 17

1918, the Western Front, France

[To his future wife, Lady Diana Manners] We had a beautiful exhibition of aerial warfare last night. A German aeroplane with all our search lights on it, flying very fast and trying to dodge the implacable lights which followed faster. It flew madly from side to side like a huge bewildered silver moth. Above it were our own machines in the darkness so that we could not see them except when they fired when they seemed like a star appearing for a moment on a background of stars. And they shot tracer bullets which came like red rockets out of the darkness all aimed at the poor moth, which suddenly turned into a ball of fire and fell blazing and a low cheer came up from the dark trenches all round us.

  • Duff Cooper, British politician, diplomat and writer, 1890-1954.

A Durable Fire: The Letters of Duff and Diana Cooper 1913-1959 edited by Artemis Cooper, Collins, 1983

The feared but respected theatre critic Kenneth Tynan died aged only 53.
beyond our ken The feared but respected theatre critic Kenneth Tynan died aged only 53.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

September 18

1980, London

Penelope Gilliatt, a critic at The New Yorker magazine, hadn't learned to project her voice as clearly as she did her ideas about theatre.
you could hear a penny drop Penelope Gilliatt, a critic at The New Yorker magazine, hadn't learned to project her voice as clearly as she did her ideas about theatre.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

[Along with Princess Margaret and the great and the good of British theatre, Bennett attended the memorial service of the legendary critic, Kenneth Tynan.] Alan Brien talks, but, as is the way of these occasions, more about himself than about the deceased. Then Penelope Gilliatt comes to the chancel steps, smiling, smiling and smiling. “Your Royal Highness,” she begins – and that is the last we hear. It is as if a mouse is at the microphone. Still, she is plainly speaking, and the audience lean forward to catch the faint squeakings. People cough. A note is passed down the aisle, written it turns out by Irving Wardle: “Tell her to speak up.” It gets as far as Bert Shevelove, who turns round and says in tones much louder than hers, “I certainly will not!” and so Penelope whispers on before Tom Stoppard concludes.

Then out into the rain, with a vast crush in the doorway. Huw Wheldon grips my arm: “An impressive service, I think. A fitting tribute. Unfortunate about that woman.”

  • Alan Bennett, British playwright, b. 1934.

Writing Home by Alan Bennett, Faber and Faber, 1994

In the British trenches of the Battle of the Somme, death was always matter of millimetres away.
muddy mess In the British trenches of the Battle of the Somme, death was always matter of millimetres away.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

September 19

1917, the Battle of the Somme, Belgium

It was pouring with rain and shells and I got wet through. Returning, I had got into the trench and was almost up to the door of the sap when a shell burst on the parapet and I was covered in mud and dirt, one piece giving me a whack on the top of the shoulder, but it was not sufficient to call for notice and I thought no more about it till later in the evening when something caused me to put my hand to the spot and I found a long scratch, no worse than a kitten would give. I am rather surprised because all I felt at the time was a thud as if a heavy clod of earth had struck me, but there must also have been something or other to go through my clothes and give me a scratch like this. Thank God it was no worse, though at times the strain of this existence makes one long for death.

  • Jack Martin, British clerk and World War 1 conscript, 1884-1970.

Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin edited by Richard van Emden, Bloomsbury, 2010

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