August 16

Several days past uncertain weather, rainy & sometimes hot. Most of the wheat & barley now cut & stacked. Children picking more or less ripe blackberries two days ago.

Saw a white owl two nights ago – the first in about two years. Also in the distance another bird probably a little owl.

Horse-chestnuts full-size but not ripe yet. Hops about the size of hazel-nuts. Yesterday went to the Zoo* again. Another litter of lion-cubs, which are a bit bigger than a domestic cat & spotted all over. Those born just a year ago are about the size of a St. Bernard dog. The ration of meat for a lion – I suppose its only meal in the day – seems to be about 6 or 7 lbs.

The Sardinian mouflon sheep¹ has a large udder like a goat & would probably yield a pint or more. I notice that the zebra’s hooves, at least the front ones, are quite perpendicular, but those of the ass-zebra hybrid are like those of a horse. The hybrid has very slightly larger ears, otherwise so far as the shape goes almost exactly like the zebra.


*ie. near Maidstone [Orwell’s own note].




¹A wild sheep found in the mountains of Sardinia and Corsica but, by extension, any large, wild, big-horned sheep.

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31 Responses to August 16

  1. Mark says:

    Dude writes about blackberries more than anyone would consider necessary – more than anyone would consider allowable, really.

  2. Glad you are back Orwell! I wish you could realize the pressure to post something everyday when the blog becomes popular. I am reading Aspidistra as of now. :)

  3. Harry says:

    The ‘white owl’ was surely a barn owl not, as you’ve linked it, a snowy owl.

  4. It is really interesting after reading some of his books to actually see what was going through his mind. He is not someone constantly thinking about life’s greatest questions but a human just as us.

  5. Elisabetta says:

    I love picking blackberries, and it’s important to know when they are ripe, when you only find green blackberries it’s a geat disappointment…

  6. danielearwicker says:

    It’s hard to believe a zoo ever tried to cross-breed their zebra with their ass.

  7. John H says:

    Mark: you’ve obviously never experienced eating fresh blackberries that you picked yourself. If you had, you’d realise that it could easily eclipse considerations of how democratic socialist principles should be applied to the geopolitical developments of the day… :-)

  8. White_Insane says:

    For now everything he has written is about the weather, food and animals…
    Still waiting for something interesting to happen, but the style of writing the diary is similar to mine….:))

  9. Mike says:

    You can also find mouflons in the French alps but they have been imported from Corsica.

  10. eric:p says:

    It’s remarkable that Orwell knew HTML markup and Wikipedia URLs. =)

  11. Klank Kiki says:

    Can you convert the Imperial Units into Metric Units inside the text? I have hard time understanding without using a calculator like google’s.

  12. jGregory says:

    Having grown up on the plains of Oklahoma I can relate to the simple everyday beauties of watching clouds form on a broad horizon, humming bird visits as you till the ground, and the soft but pleasant anticipation of fruit ripening on vines. These moments are noteworthy, if only to the person experiencing that in the moment. My journals are filled with seemingly inconsequential moments that remind me of their beauty and make me smile on their remembrance, but read by anyone else they would understandable be unsatisfying.
    I’m just saying a diary is a diary is a diary, not an essay.

  13. John: Too true, same goes for anything, really. I’ve never had a tomato quite like the ones I grew myself. So tasty, almost made up for all the hassle of keeping a garden. (;

    Perhaps next time I’ll do a potted garden. Two potted tomato plants, two potted corn plants, etc. You get the idea.

  14. rachel says:

    no kidding about the HTML… hidden talents, hidden talents.

  15. downstreamer says:

    Hey George. Good to hear that your hops are doing well. We are experiencing a shortage these days, making for pricier beer. On this day in August cicadas blend with the texture of the midmorning stillness, while on TV the president makes pronouncements about the sovereignty of sovereign nations. A hurricane is projected to track up through Haiti, Havana, and on through Florida. It’s still cool and shady indoors, but the heat is building. Behind the heat the shade hangs deeply, with the sun staying lower all day. Wasps probe the walls and overhangs of our house, looking for a way to make a nest. Olympic coverage oozes from the pores of the television, and the day seems endless.

    Hope to hear more from you soon….

  16. sluggo says:

    The ass-zebra hybrid does not sound nearly so awful as the horse-chestnut hybrid. What kind of zoo are they running there? Is Dr. Moreau in charge?

  17. Zarkov says:

    I’m beginning to think this blog might be better off without comments. Only a few entries in, and already overrun by trolls and not-so-funny clowns. Quite sad.

    Apart from that, the date of this entry has been set to the actual date (2008) instead of 1938.

  18. It’s useful to remember that Orwell had been a nature-lover since his youth (as recounted in “Such, Such Were the Joys”), that he had a great fondness for animals, and that he was also an amateur farmer. (As I recall, G.O. once replied to a poll question on his occupation by writing “I write books and raise chickens and vegetables.”) Though Orwell’s political views haven’t been much on display in these past few diary entries, his naturalism strongly colored his political views – e.g. his aversion to the urban-industrial utopias dreamed up by his fellow socialists. These two parts of Orwell’s persona, the nature-lover and the political commentator, intersected most successfully and effectively in ANIMAL FARM.

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  20. Klank Kiki says:

    David Nichols:
    I respectfully disagree with G.O. about his aversion to urban-industrial utopias. Concentrating humans in a high city is much better than sprawling suburbs which destroy ecosystems.

    What’s your opinion?

  21. Bonnie says:

    @David Nichols – yes, and his rant in The Road to Wigan Pier makes it fairly clear that he would not like this computer/cell phone age, even if he were to take advantage of it by writing a blog (far from the madding crowd in Barnhill, of course). “Like a drug, the machine is useful, dangerous, and habit-forming. The oftener one surrenders to it the tighter its grip becomes.”

    @Sluggo – :)

    @all the blackberry lovers – yay to fresh blackberries! pardon the long quote from O’s rant, but it is apropos:

    “To begin with, there is the frightful debauchery of taste that has already been effected by a century of mechanisation. This is almost too obvious and too generally admitted to need pointing out. But as a single instance, take taste in its narrowest sense — the taste for decent food. In the highly mechanised countries, thanks to tinned food, cold storage, synthetic flavouring matters, etc., the palate is almost a dead organ. As you can see by looking at any greengrocer’s shop, what the majority of English people mean by an apple is a lump of highly-coloured cotton wool from America or Australia; they will devour these things, apparently with pleasure, and let the English apples rot under the trees. It is the shiny, standardised, machine-made look of the American apple that appeals to them; the superior taste of the English apple is something they simply do not notice. Or look at the factory-made, foil-wrapped cheese and ‘blended’ butter in any grocer’s; look at the hideous rows of tins which usurp more and more of the space in any food-shop, even a dairy; look at a sixpenny Swiss roll or a twopenny ice-cream; look at the filthy chemical by-product that people will pour down their throats under the name of beer. Wherever you look you will see some slick machine-made article triumphing over the old-fashioned article that still tastes of something other than sawdust.”

  22. matt says:

    i had a raspberry shake today George, yummmmmmm.

  23. Laurens says:

    I would like to have a zoo like that in my town.

  24. adrian says:

    Sounds like the south-east had a better summer in 1938 than 2008. My tomatoes are still a reluctant shade of green, and the hops are nowhere near the size of hazelnuts yet! Lots of blackberries, though… must remember to grab a few from one of the local parks.

  25. @Klank Kiki: My own opinion is that suburbs have been around for a long time and are unlikely to vanish from any country that has a free-market economy. They will only decline when the costs of maintaining a suburban lifestyle – a car (or three) and a house – permanently and dramatically exceed the costs of living in an urban area (increased cost of living, higher crime rate, etc.) Governments can accelerate urbanization by subsidizing public transportation and apartment rentals, and by de-subsidizing super-highway construction and home ownership, though I think the latter two options would prove too unpopular for any democratic government to undertake. Finally, the best way to protect ecosystems, in the long run, is to limit human population growth – and the best way to accomplish that goal is through an increase in the worldwide standard of living and the sociopolitical power of women. Orwell, sadly, wasn’t terribly interested in women’s rights or population control, though perhaps he might have changed his mind if he had witnessed the global environmental degredation of the past half-century.

  26. Fearless Frank says:

    “@all the blackberry lovers – yay to fresh blackberries! pardon the long quote from O’s rant, but it is apropos:

    “To begin with, there is the frightful debauchery of taste… etc”

    agreed… and to anyone who wants to look at this further in modern Britain, can I recommend “Bad Food Britain” and “Shopped” both by Joanna Blythman.

  27. Julia says:

    I’ve been inspired to go blackberry picking this weekend. Thanks George.

  28. Seamus Artaud says:

    While overseeing my 14 year old daughter’s reading of Animal Farm this summer for school, I decided to visit again with Eric/George after many years.

    I started with the Collected Essays to make sure it still included “Politics and the English Language” for my daughter’s edification and found myself completely charmed once more by “Such, Such Were the Joys” and the rest of those pieces.

    Not content with what I read there, I re-read “Down and out in Paris and London” and “Homage to Catalonia,” and then felt compelled to go further: “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” and “Coming Up for Air.”

    Having grown up thinking Eric/George was a grim sort (mainly due to 1984), I was suprised at how wonderously funny, insightful and warm George Bowling (the first person narrator of “Coming Up for Air”) was.

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  30. perde says:

    The ‘white owl’ was surely a barn owl not, as you’ve linked it, a snowy owl.

  31. zztanti says:

    I’ll buy new blackberry this weekend too..

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