September 15, 1938

Caught a water-tortoise, about 8” long, outside the small zoological gardens here (evidently it had not escaped from within, though of the same kind as those kept inside.) It was in an irrigation ditch, swimming against the current & only succeeding in remaining about stationary. When turned onto its back it was unable to turn over. It smelt abominably, though active and apparently in good condition.

No ordinary sparrows here, but a small bird of the finch family, with brown body, bluish head & long tail, very common.

A few michaelmas daisies in flower in the Z[oological]. Gardens, which surprised me. Olives almost ripe. Some turning bluish-red, which is perhaps their ripe colour. Oranges still green. These trees evidently need a lot of manure. Runner beans in pod, much as at home. Grapes here are poor, rather dry & tasteless.
Large ants here, half red & half black, enlarging their hole in the ground. One carrying out a bean-shaped stone about 1/4 “ long by 1/2 “ thick. Flies here very trying, mosquitoes fairly numerous, but as yet no plagues of flying insects.

Tonight dark by 7pm.

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13 Responses to September 15, 1938

  1. Dispot says:

    What was he doing there?

  2. Raketemensch says:

    Maybe they’re accidentally posting Darwin’s diaries….

  3. Justin says:

    Reading the posts, and then reading some of his published work, I’m still surprised we are talking about Orwell here. Was biology a hobby for him?

  4. Tortoise-sniffing seems an odd pastime.

  5. Gilles Mioni says:

    He was all ears, never sore eyes.
    Every thing is a sight .
    Insatiable curiosity of real life.
    As a living recorder of colored lights,
    landscapes, animals, people, all
    that made the world.
    He lived at a time when some people
    could report what the world was really.
    These testimonies would found to be
    diffused by informational authorities.
    This attitude was a duty for him.
    This attitude would explain his art of writing.

  6. Are “we talking about Orwell here[?]”

    Alas! many are and many are not; however, they are easily distinguishable from one another.

    Personally, I am more interested in the (apparently) imminent “plagues of flying insects” and I wish George had expounded further upon the topic.

  7. M.Serapis says:

    Bravo “Gilles Mioni” well put.

  8. Andrew says:

    I expected him to eat the turtle. I wish he’d write something about the food!

  9. Arnold Mousetrouser says:

    “Plagues of flying insects” would refer to locust plagues and should have been footnoted by the presenters of the diary.

    “What was he doing there?” A colleague and friend of his had given Orwell some money anonymously so he could get to a warmer and dryer climate for a while and maybe help his TB before he succumbed to it. Orwell vowed to pay the money back, and did later when he was earning a reasonable amount from his writing, but, although he knew his benefactor, he never found out where the money came from.

    In the four-volume paperback edition of his collected letters and other writings, there are several descriptions of north Africa and his stay there. Gilles Mioni is right, Orwell was one of the great “noticers”. There should be more of them. AM

  10. He was obsessed with anything smelly, I think.

  11. Michael Powell says:

    “Daniel Earwicker Says:

    September 17, 2008 at 6:36 pm
    He was obsessed with anything smelly, I think.”

    Including the proles!

  12. Canlı Dizi says:

    He was obsessed with anything smelly, I think.

  13. Dominic says:

    I doubt that stinky turtle ended up in his soup.

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