Two eggs.

Fine & cool. Domestic animals here eat almost anything. Donkeys eating old dried-up vegetable marrow leaves off a rubbish heap. Cows, goats & sheep being fed on waste leaves from crown artichokes. Notice that when goats & sheep are herded together, the goats fight among themselves but do not go for the sheep.

Picked up pellet of some fairly large hawk. Only wing-cases etc. of insects, mostly woodlice. Have not yet seen a snake in Morocco, though recently we picked up a fresh slough of one.

Oranges when ripe enough to pick can apparently be left on the trees for some time without falling. Wholesale prices of oranges (at any rate locally) Frs. 2.50 or 3 a dozen.

Saw a dead donkey the other day – the first I have seen. The wretched brute had simply dropped & died beside one of the tracks leading from Marrakech to the Oued, & was left lying there by the owner. A few dogs hanging round waiting to start on it, but with a guilty air.

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26 Responses to 16.12.38

  1. vr0n says:

    Wasn’t there a tormented snake earlier in the adventure? Or was that before Morocco?

    I’m starting to feel positively bucolic. I have a hankering to plant some herbs, keep a few chooks. But no goats. I hate goats (one ate my cowgirl hat when I was young and I have never forgiven them as a species).

  2. The Ridger says:

    At least the hawk hasn’t taken a hen yet.

  3. Fred says:

    And thus, the hen had silenced the burro. She had gotten wind of his intent to expose to the human her carefully prepared plans. It now appears that the human is looking for her intelligence officer, the snake. She must now warn him. Hen is worried that the human has noticed the sheep and their collective might. All is fine as long as they do their part for her plans. The goats will take some time. They are always quibbling about their chain of command.

  4. art brennan says:

    I had not heard the term “slough” for the skin a snake has shed. I live in an old (relatively speaking) New Hampshire town. There is a part of the town near the old road where masts were hauled for the British navy. That piece of ground was referred to as the “dark slough.” Maybe something about that area resembled a Orwell’s “slough” or snake skin.

  5. dave says:

    I think its not just the animals that are obsessed by food.Sounds like GO was having a good look at that dead donkey too…

    He even dissects the hawks droppings to see what its been eating…

    Give that man a 10 pound Roast Beef, yorkshire pudding,some fresh cows milk and a dozen eggs.

  6. tona says:

    I didn’t know hawks made pellets, I thought that was only owls. My kids get to dissect owl pellets in science at school. Huh, who knew?

    Goats and sheep, how Biblical.

    What’s the unit of currency, Frs?

  7. Faba says:


  8. fap says:

    I wonder if future generations would gloat over my diaries.

    today’s entry reads

    One orgasm.

  9. Ed Webb says:

    Animals reflect
    Our selves, our souls projected:
    Guilty, hungry dogs

  10. @art brennan: “slough” (pr. “sloo”), a muddy or marshy area, and “slough” (pr. “sluff”), a cast-off skin or a discard, are homographs, with completely different derivations.

  11. I notice that when the oranges have ripened, you can take your time picking them and, thus, the orange trees themselves can be used as temporary storage for their own fruit. Although it would be hard to sell them while they’re hanging on a tree in some orchard miles from the nearest bazaar, for a small-scale operation—id est, one peasant, one donkey, one kiosk—this might be ideal.

    Pick a donkey-load of oranges in the morning, head for the bazaar, man the kiosk until the oranges have sold out, ride the donkey home. Rinse. Repeat.

    Suddenly, I am overwhelmed with the obsessive compulsion to listen to some Frank Zappa.

  12. ken says:

    Bet that dead donkey is what he uses for the inference in the essay Marrakech: “After a dozen years of devoted work it [the Moroccan donkey] suddenly drops dead, whereupon its master tips it into the ditch and the village dogs have torn its guts out before it is cold.” The dogs seem to behave a bit differently in the diary, though.

  13. Dominic says:

    Notice George never comments on the flavor of his daily eggs. Is that because chickens eat almost anything, too?

  14. margot says:

    This is really depressing stuff. Poor animals!

  15. And let’s remember that our Lord was carried into Jerusalem on a donkey.

    On second thought, let’s not.

  16. art brennan says:

    Thanks Janet. The area is dry but my guess is that it was drained as were so many wetlands in this area.

  17. Jake says:

    Earwicker comment: Relevance none.

    Brennan: Slough. Where life began, some say.

  18. Stephen says:

    Dead donkey … hmm. Reminded me of a great article by a University of North Carolina professor Jerry Mills, “Equine Gothic: The Dead Mule as Generic Signifier in Southern Literature of the Twentieth Century”. Milils identifies more than 200 instances of dead mules in the writings of many Southern (US) authors such as William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Cormac macCarthy. As a literary image, it is hard to beat as an example of poverty, injustice and exhausted hard work – just the emotions Orwell conjures up in Marrakech. Anyone interested can read the original article at Southern Literary Journal, Fall, 1996, but the link also refers:

  19. Pingback: 17.12.38 « THE ORWELL PRIZE

  20. vr0n says:

    @ art and janet: also Slough, the town outside london, (pron: slOW … as in OW! that hurt!)

    @Fred: You are making me rething my bucolic idyll. Your “Silence of the Chickens” tale is starting to freak me out a little…

  21. Ash says:

    “Saw a dead donkey the other day – the first I have seen. The wretched brute had simply dropped & died beside one of the tracks leading from Marrakech to the Oued, & was left lying there by the owner. A few dogs hanging round waiting to start on it, but with a guilty air.”

    What an amazing piece of writing. How can three simple sentences paint a scene so perfectly? It’s almost poetic.

  22. “the wretched brute”
    well, I’ve heard these long suffering animals called lots of uncomplimentary things but this expression takes the carrot

  23. Ash says:

    @gwilym – I suspect he meant “in a deplorable state of distress or misfortune”, as opposed to “contemptible”

  24. @Jake – donkeys are always relevant.

  25. James Russell says:

    Just Drop the Dead Donkey writing…..

  26. Pingback: Orwell: dissappointing « Poumista

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