September 25, 1938

Yesterday morning blowy & overcast, then some fairly heavy showers of rain. Today no rain, but cooler still & windy.

The reason for the galls always present on camels’ joints is that these are what they kneel down on, usually on stones etc. Nearly all camels here also have galled backs. It is said that a camel can often only be managed by one man whom it knows, & that one must at all costs avoid beating them. Relative to size they carry a much smaller load than a donkey. Some of them have flies & maggots burrowing into the galls on their backs, without appearing to notice it. Children also pay very little attention to flies, which are sometimes crusted in sores all round their eyes.

Hollyhocks just over & sunflowers coming to an end. The former grow 10 or 12 feet high.

Chrysanthemums in the public gardens budding. Cannas are very fine, in 4 colours.

There is no snow at present on the Atlas mountains. At sunset when it is clear they take on a remarkable purplish-red colour.

The bow which is used for a lathe is also used for a drill. A drill with a cylindrical wooden handle in the base of which there is a hole is fitted against a steel point & rotated with a bow. It is kept firm by the other end being in contact with the wood that is drilled. It seems to work as exactly as an ordinary drill & very rapidly.

Bought two turtle doves this morning. Two doves 10 Fr. (an overcharge), bamboo cage about 20” by 15” by 20”, 15 Fr. Total cost about 3/-. These birds seem to domesticate very easily.

Ordinary blackbirds, or some bird extremely similar, is common here. Also the little owl or some very similar owl. Bats here are large, about twice the size of English bat.

It gets dark now at about 6.45 pm.

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11 Responses to September 25, 1938

  1. All right, George “The Tool Man” Orwell!

    Only the partridge in a pear tree remains uncollected in the scavenger hunt! You’re almost there!

    On a lighter note:
    I contend that the Bow Drill is far more “ordinary” than a “modern” one, even if 1938 was still using some variation of reciprocating drill. That is, unless you are comparing the bow drill to a Bow-less Drill which is beyond “ordinary” or even “primitive” and into the murky realm of the prehistoric.

  2. Santiago says:

    Heh, he sure seems to switch gears fast, doesn’t he? “Children live in unimaginable squalor and poverty in fly infested-Oh look, a sunflower!”

    I’m amused at his awe of the bow-drill, your average Egyptian museum will have tons of images, hieroglyphs, and reconstructions of these things. To be fair, though, I’ve never seen one in action.

  3. Justin says:

    Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

  4. Rick Hamell says:

    The doves were probably for dinner. I wonder if he’ll give us a good recipe for them.

  5. Yes! Barbecued Dove!

  6. malcolm says:

    Are the flies in eyes of the children or the camels?

  7. Arnold Mousetrouser says:

    Bow Drill: Orwell was a carpenter as a hobby in what spare time he had, making furniture and so on. There are several photographs of him at work in the baqsement of his London flat in the public domain. No wonder he was interested in the bow drill in action rather than in drawings and hieroglyphs.. AM

  8. Gilles Mioni says:

    Still this day, Georges Orwell shows its capacity to make living an entirely made description of unimportant details. But its glance is as great as that of a painter.
    We can see what he was describing.

  9. Arnold Mousetrouser says:

    Yes, Gilles Mioni: What I regret is that he didn’t have the chance, because of the times and his illness, to fulfil one of his ambitions which was to sit down with a lot of time and write a big three-volume English family novel that covered many years and generations. What it could have been like pops up occasionally in the more didactic fiction he felt compelled to write at the time, sudden rushes of it that spread and grow on the page, especially in Coming Up For Air and less so in 1984 (which he never had time to revise properly), built.up from tiny selected detail, the “noticeing”, of the Journal which is not the cliche “writer’s journal”, full of rambling deep thoughts and sensitivity, more a selection of cogent but sparse images that hold their essence on the journal page and then unfold when needed, much like those Japanese crispy things that you drop into a bowl of water and they swell and open up into flowers and other magical shapes in front of your eyes.. Etc Etc. AM (Australia)

  10. Ah, George, look.

    There are those, other than me, whose senses float upon the ether through the wormhole of your blog, converging simultaneously (Zulu) from all known and unknown compass points.

    I think that is both humbling and exciting. I look forward to an insightful, stimulating five years.

    Sunset. Remarkably purplish-red mountains. (Images of the Atlas Mountains are a great visual aid.)

    In this blog (so far, anyway), Orwell, seems to be describing a stage–a huge, panoramic stage–one which is traversed by ship, donkey, plane, camel, train and automobile.

    When I land, face down with a thump, sputtering amid a puff of dust in the above-mentioned scene of the setting sun, am I the protagonist or the antagonist?

  11. All over the darkish drawing-room, ageing, discoloured people sat about in couples, discussing symptoms. Their conversation was like the dripping of stalactite to stalagmite. Drip, drip. ‘How is your lumbago?’ says stalactite to stalagmite. ‘I find my Kruschen Salts are doing me good,’ says stalagmite to stalactite. Drip, drip, drip.

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