Two eggs (135 since 26.10.38.)

In the cleft of the rock on the N. side of one of the hills near hear° are growing a plant like angelica, a fleshy plant with round leaves & quantities of moss. Evidently these can only grow in places where the sun does not reach them at any time.

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35 Responses to 13.1.39

  1. dave says:

    I have been reading some biographical stuff on GO and am coming to believe that he wasn’t the most industrious fellow around….

    ie what else did he do on any given day besides post a parcel,look behind a rock (or two)…?

    Eggs and egg jokes aside,whats up with this “journal” ? Neurasthenia ? bad health? (never alluded to much)…

    TB was very common in 1938…

    I need to read more on this guy because our keyhole is pretty small…

  2. Gilles Mioni says:

    Angelica : http://tinyurl.com/83tl56

    Not far from (50 miles) where I’m living, there is the city of angelica : Niort.
    With angelica, one can make liqueur. Pure, you can compose highly original cocktails, you can drink it on ice. Made in cream, it adds in sorbets, ice cream, pastries. With it, you can make jam, some sauce or candied fruit.

  3. Gilles Mioni says:

    @ Dave :
    At that time Orwell have lived an experience of war. The circumstances under which he was involved, the senseless fighting led by the Spanish Communists leaded by Komintern, to increase their political influence within the Republican coalition in Barcelona in May 1937.

    Deeply upset, it must both challenging his political views and find a way to produce new literature.

    Hence, our feeling of vacuity by reading his diary.

    But how a writer remain realistic then he accumulated so passionately contradictions during his life as a voluntary and altruistic soldier for freedom and democracy ?

  4. James Russell says:


    The general consensus is that he was writing “Coming up for Air”, and may have been contributing articles to newspapers and other periodical publications.

    This was not a diary for publication, and therefore exists as an insight into his worries, concerns, and interests during this period, rather than a travelogue.

    Two eggs.

  5. On this day in 1939:
    Belgium signed a trade treaty with France
    71 people died in the ‘Black Friday’ bush fire in Victoria, Australia
    and George Orwell’s chickens laid 2 eggs.

  6. Wally says:


    I lived in Ardin, north of Niort, for a summer in the ’80s. The mention of angelica made me nostalgic for that summer. I tried to make some candied angelica a few years ago with bad but humorous results.

  7. Ed Webb says:

    The strange alchemy
    Of sun-shunning fleshy plants
    Haunts from the shadows

  8. art brennan says:

    After a life risk,
    A winter of lonely rest
    Intended to help.

  9. dave says:

    Winston Churchill used to routinely ask/arrange to be “put into” war zones as a reporter or combatant (Boer war,Sudan uprising, even the trenches in WW1 (following the Dardanelles fiasco…)

    He was frank enough to admit he liked the action,and it gave him material for his writing…

    How altruistic and ” passionate” can a guy be who writes such an unbeleivably lame daily journal..ie why bother to journal at all…

    Maybe his politics were largely a response to his humiliation at the hand of the British class system (Such,Such were the Joys…)

    Im’e getting frustrated ….

  10. dave says:

    Ok now I’me firming up my idea,over my lunch time….

    My growing suspicion,based on this “journal” is that maybe GO was not so much a Great Altruistic Political Genius,Socialist etc etc writer,as maybe a guy who took a story (Spanish Civil War), and spent the next 40 years blending it in with his life experience of growing up poorer than he wanted to be (and ashamed of this shame…) and writing about politics etc.. Sticking up for the downtrodden etc etc…

    Maybe without WW2 and the Spanish war he would have written about ? eggs? weather? Hmmmn no maybe not…

    I still enjoy this site folks,

    Jl3: whats up?

  11. art brennan says:

    When you walk the walk it is very lonely. You come back with a story but no one really wants to hear it. So you go back again and again. You keep your journal as a quiet and understanding friend.

  12. @dave, the Spanish civil war was in the mid-1930s so Orwell didn’t have 40 years to write about it. His political writing prior to the war experience was more typically and (I would say) naively left-wing, e.g. The Lion and the Unicorn: suggestions for how to do away with economic freedom combined with a bit of blind faith that totalitarianism would never happen in Britain because we’re too laid back for it. After the war experience his thinking on socialism was dominated by a deep mistrust of Stalin and his apologists, and he became at least more conscious of the challenges involved in combining his love of individual freedom with socialism per se – there seems to have been less talk of “we must seize control of…, etc.” Although I haven’t finished reading his letters/essays yet so this may be a gross oversimplification. But it’s the impression I have so far.

  13. dave says:


    Thanks for that, I’me off to my local (used-its 2009…) book stores to get more info…

    Do you think their is a lot of the Gordon Comstock ambivilance in GO ?? A writer who could write adds (and thereby delude the masses) but couldn’t write prose ?

    ???JL3; One ping only…..

  14. I’m curious why people expect George to have a deeper day-to-day diary than this. Even exceptional people don’t think about exceptional things all the time. And this being his private diary, he was probably saving most of his deepest insight for articles to sell. To, you know, make a living. Because you don’t earn money as a writer by putting your best stuff in your diary.

  15. dave says:

    No,Andrea,you are right. When you are SELLING stuff you put your “best foot forward ” (I am a deep,thoughtful Socialist, who wants whats best for the world) etc etc etc. You write about the biggest stories you can find (Politics etc)

    Meanwhile, in private, you are “flying for yourself” (as bomber pilots said on return flights…)

    No one,you imagine can ever see what you write in your private journal…Thats why our distinguished guest JL3 refers to this diary as a worm hole…

    And what thoughts do we seem to find uppermost in GO’s mind ??

    1)best way to bleach Jackal skulls

    2)price of hay/postage

    3)egg count

    4) etc etc

    At the risk of people thinking I have an issue with GO I have to say that this site is making me wonder about his motivation in writing ABOUT THE TOPICS HE DID, instead of natural history,for example,which he seems to have had some interest in…

    Having said that where is my 14/01/38 fix??

  16. Then we had the ‘Confessions of an Opium-eater’ – fine, very fine! – glorious imagination – deep philosophy acute speculation – plenty of fire and fury, and a good spicing of the decidedly unintelligible. That was a nice bit of flummery, and went down the throats of the people delightfully. They would have it that Coleridge wrote the paper – but not so. It was composed by my pet baboon, Juniper, over a rummer of Hollands and water, ‘hot, without sugar.

    ~~Mr. Blackwood

  17. Hector says:

    It’s good to see he’s keeping count …

  18. Ryan Hillier says:

    I find it interesting that some people are surprised – even disappointed – at the fact that Mr. Blair lived a relatively quiet, unassuming life during this period.

    As said above, there is a strange idea that if Orwell’s works were so interesting and visionary, he must have been living an incredibly enlightened life every day, and thus wouldn’t be noting how many eggs his chickens laid.

    This is a silly notion; and frankly, it’s wonderful to read about the daily musings of such an interesting literary figure.

  19. Jake says:

    ” . . . angelica, a fleshy plant with round leaves & quantities of moss. Evidently these can only grow in places where the sun does not reach them at any time.”

    For X, a rotund man with fleshy jowels and round joints, whose thoughts come from a place only where the sun does not shine.”

  20. Stephen says:

    I think what’s being missed in some of the preceding comments (while we wait anxiously for the egg count update) is a recognition of Orwell’s place in the traditition of English “country men” and nature writers. We’re more familiar with him as a political writer but this diary, with its eggs, skulls, nasturtiums, river beds, etc, shows another face to the man, deeply rooted in the traditional English countryside where he lived, pre-Spain, growing roses (and the countryside to which he constantly compares his experiences in Morocco). This resourceful, no-nonsense, unsentimental kind of farmer is of course the same resourceful, no-nonsense unsentimental fighter we read in Barcelona.

  21. Yes.

    And massive, ornately-framed paintings of horses and dogs over massive fireplaces in ancient, dark rooms in corners of the vast ancestral womb (so-to-speak) which overlooks the dank, deadly bog where the hound lurks.

    And, of course, hedgerows.

    With bustles in them.

  22. Stephen says:

    I’m thinking as well of feather-footed voles questing through the plashy fens (apologies to Evelyn Waugh’s Boot of the Beast, another Englishman blundering about north Africa at this time – Scoop was published, incidentally, in 1938).

  23. Phil Barker says:

    “His political writing prior to the war experience was more typically and (I would say) naively left-wing, e.g. The Lion and the Unicorn …”
    err, Lion and the Unicorn was written in 1941.

    Not that I think you’re wrong in the general gist of what you say (in fact I think Orwell said something similar). When thinking about Orwell’s Socialism and attitude to Communism, I keep coming back to what he wrote in Clergyman’s Daughter “So remote were such things as parliamentary elections from the daily round of parish work that she was virtually unaware of them—hardly, indeed, even knowing the difference between Liberal and Conservative or Socialist and Communist.” Clearly even then (1935) he thought communism and socialism as being as distinct as liberalism and conservatism.

    Incidentally, he was very worried about Britain totalitarianism in Britain, but the Fascist variety. I don’t think he thought those sandal-wearing, fruit juice drinking, vegetarian British Socialists were likely to lead to communist totalitarian.

    1. Orwell was very ill. Injured Spain and suffering from the TB that would eventually kill him. I think his days of adventure among tramps, hop pickers, fighters were over.
    2. He was writing other stuff at the time.
    3. This is his personal diary, expect occasional observations of detail, household accounts, that sort of thing.–He also kept “political diary”, look for the stuff headed “Villa Simont” and tagged as “Posted in Political”

    Personally, I’m fascinated by this other side to his life.

  24. In the interest of Full Disclosure, the following is my opinion:

    Eric Blair has been giving us direct insight into his human characteristics from the very first post in this blog. This has come via sporadic urges [of undeterminable (by me) origin] to remember specific images [Impressions] interspersed with lulls punctuated with blank pages though, now and then, he runs a self-check by coming up for air with a pencil poised in his hand to give us a ping, so-to-speak.


  25. Where would the enjoyment be [I asked] if George had blurted out an objective, verbatim account of the entire five-year timeline of history beginning in 1938?

    I don’t think I’d be here [I replied] getting regular dosages of imagination.

    How does that make you feel [I asked]?

    Lethargic [I replied] and, well, you just harshed my mellow, actually.

  26. Has George run out of ink, lost his fountain pen or broken his last nib.
    Surely someone must have a pencil he could use.
    Perhaps he went back to the cleft to look at the angelica-like plant and got…er, stuck? Hope he’s ok.

  27. AlexS says:

    Indeed, I’m missing the daily egg count. If he wasn’t writing in the present, I would start worrying about him.

  28. AlexS says:

    “if he wasn’t writing in the PAST”, I meant…

  29. Steve says:

    I think we’ve been seeing three-four types of diary entries. I think of today’s (1/16) entry as an entry of Type 0:

    Type 0: either too ill to write (recall once he wrote that, during a period of silence, he had been too sick even to keep track of eggs. Imagine being too sick to keep track of eggs!) If not too ill to write, away from home. In this case, look for an entry of Type 3 soon.

    Type 1: egg count only. Just well enough to track eggs, not well enough to be out and about, except maybe to the chicken-house.

    Type 2: egg count plus brief comments about some interesting bit of natural history: jackal skulls, flowers, streambeds. Only well enough for nearby travel.

    Type 3: extensive entry about politics, local culture, or natural history. Well enough to have been somewhere to see something to write about. Example: dead m/donkeys on the side of the road.

  30. Steve~~
    Excellent! Eloquently articulate. Thank you.

    Type 0, if I might be so bold as to add, does not in any way suggest an unwillingness to see word fractals based on the 136th fibonacci number spawning on yellow, 8.5 × 14 (216 × 356), lined, legal notepaper.

    For all we know, he’s unconscious when his hand writes of “One egg.” or some other pair of monosyllables. Like some Vincent Price flick (where Peter Lorre, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing lurk behind gilded tapestries) and EAP’s hand is possessed by a mad genius.

  31. dave says:

    Ok … I miss the egg jokes now…

    I think this type of diary was the one he wrote on the back of half empty cigarette packs.

    Jl3: Back @ Bletchley we all voted YOU as “most likely to wind up a mad genius”,but then we all lost track of each other….Did it happen?

    ,Thank God now,for the Internet…back then all we had were those old “shoe phones”….

    Remember the time you rang up the Reichchancellery (in june of 44) and said you were Rudolf Hesse,and wanted to talk to your hairdresser…(something about a bad perm)…we laughed so hard,especially because of that “toupee” and monocle you used to sport…

    How is your parrot?

    We were all mad geniuses then,but there was a war on…(Such,Such were the Joys…)

    Q sends his regards..

  32. dave~~

    Inasmuch my mentor, the Norwegian Blue Parrot, is beloved by all who make his acquaintance, I am impelled to report that he is doing just fine, though I must admit (since he won’t) that he’s getting a bit long in the beloved tooth and doesn’t move around much. Kind of just lays there, actually, on the bottom of the cage.

    By the way, I contacted Doc Savage on your behalf as requested and the response was ubiquitous.

  33. Ben says:

    Another eggselent post.

  34. Pingback: S is For Somewhere » Blog Archive » Incredible amounts of sleep. Ineffective.

  35. Pingback: Incredible amounts of sleep. Ineffective. « A Bloggering Hole

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