Yesterday went to the Oued Tensift, about 2Km. from here, the principal river of these parts. About 5 yards wide & 1 – 3’ deep, but lies in a considerable valley & probably rises at some times of the year. Poor water, but said to have small fish in it. Muddy banks & bottom. Fresh water mussels, very similar to those in the Thames, moving to & fro in the mud leaving deep track behind them. Red shank & ringed plover, or extremely similar birds, live on the mud. Feathery shrub which in England is used for making hedges, arbutus¹ I think, growing everywhere. Patches of grass almost like English grass.

Still very hot. Last night unbearably so till quite late at night.

The water here is almost undrinkable, not only tasting of mud but also distinctly salty.

The bitter oranges grown here as grafting stock said to be good for marmalade, so presumably the same as Seville oranges. Some of the goats round here a bright silvery-grey colour. First class Spanish goat said to cost Frs. 500.

¹ It is not certain what Orwell is describing, since arbutus has leathery, rather than feathery, leaves. The most likely possibility is tamarisk, which could grow in the situation Orwell describes. Peter Davison

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13 Responses to 21.10.38

  1. Luke says:

    Fantastically descriptive as always.

    Rather him than me when it comes to drinking that water though!

    With this entry I feel a sense of longing for the familiar that we all get after some time away from home.

  2. art brennan says:

    So true, I remember the “American Toad” I found in Baghdad near the Embassy Annex. I’m curious now as to whether it really was from America or if American Toads are from the old cradle.

  3. George~~

    There is an illustration by Marc Chagall housed in The State Hermitage online Digital Collection that would work quite well, in my opinion, with today’s post.

    By the way, I enjoy your not-so-nuanced insistence that All Things British are the Gold Standard which no other creature on Earth in the Universe could Ever Hope to attain; It focuses my POV, I’m through the wormhole, and I’ve landed in your skull.

    Have you ever met Pink Floyd? The interior of their skulls would interest you.

  4. Have I gone mad?

  5. Perhaps rather than Feathery he meant to write Leathery – and thus a hedge plant (arbutus) would be the one.
    Or, per the wikipedia entry on arbutus: “Some species in the genera Epigaea, Arctostaphylos and Gaultheria were formerly classified in Arbutus.”. Not that I could locate any flowery leaves amongst any of those.

  6. Jake says:

    “Bitter oranges” recalls “The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch” and H. Miller. One can almost see the two–Miller and Orwell–tete a tete at some Paris cafe (as opposed to British pub) slicing the fruit between them.

  7. Pingback: 3rdBlog

  8. dave says:

    JL3: possibly; if not, please leave my skull alone…

    As for Georgio;what can I say “mussels moving to and fro in the mud”…

    I think he’s dosed up on the local herbs,or just too deep for me

  9. dave says:

    check out related link “august cattle”

    George has nothing on this guy

    How are “related links” generated ? Ouiji board,voodoo bones?

  10. Michael says:

    @JL3 — i have to agree with your All Things British comment. having just finished Said’s ‘Orientalism’ it junderlines how pervasive some mentalities are. I am not all criticizing Mr Blair here, but the same could be said for his apparent surprise at the charcoal burners yesterday. why shouldn’t they be?

  11. Ed Webb says:

    Michael – you should check out Said’s extension of the argument in ‘Culture and Imperialism,’ where he analyzes, among other things, the milieu in which Eric grew up, the pervasive tropes of the colonizing power in which authors from Austen to Dickens to Orwell were enmeshed.

  12. Michael says:

    Ed — thank you for the suggestion. i knew of Said through his friendship with Daniel Barenboim and their east-west Diwan orchestra, but have only recently read his work. Having spent my life in the US, Europe, Morocco, and other parts of Africa, I would argue that we remain enmeshed. Part of it must be our constant need to draw comparisons. As Said points out, this requires an us and a them. Reading the musings of a singular mind from 50 years ago helps me appreciate the subtleties.

  13. nigel warner says:

    I think George Orwell is refering to the scurge of suburban neighbourhoods
    – the Leylandi

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