The coldest weather hitherto. Heavy snow last night, everything snowed up, drifts 4-6’ deep in places, roads more or less impassable, so that there has been no traffic of any kind all day. Violent wind. In spite of all this the tap of the village pump is not frozen, though almost completely buried in snow this morning. Some days back after being thawed out with boiling water it was muffled in sacking, after which it has remained unfrozen.

5 eggs.

[There is a break in the diary until 13 March 1940]

This entry was posted in Domestic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to 29.1.40

  1. Stephen says:

    This, of course, is why England won the war.

  2. ben says:

    ‘no traffic of any kind all day’ – good to see some things haven’t changed as regards England and snow! I had wondered how he was getting water with his own taps frozen – a village pump, eh? Strange to think people were living like that within living memory.

  3. Stephen says:

    ~ re: ‘no traffic of any kind all day’:
    GO explains this complete absence of traffic on the fact that the roads were ‘more or less’ impassable. Another phlegmatic English understatement.
    He must be leaving a bit of wriggle room in case one of the neighbouring villagers was able to get in and unmuffle the sacking.

  4. Steve says:

    Meanwhile, back in 1846, Nathaniel Bryceson is having a much different winter and describing it in the charming language of his day.

  5. Max says:

    In case people are wondering, according to Peter Davison, during February Orwell was ‘quite ill’ with the ‘flu.

    Don’t worry. Something tells me that he’ll survive.


  6. I don’t think I’ve checked this blog out since ’38, very glad to see that those hens are still under constant observation, as if by a beetle-browed member of the Inner Party.

  7. Max says:

    Big Blogger is watching him!

  8. Since it is Saturday [February 3], off the eastern coast of Britain, about 20 German bombers attack shipping, sinking 2 ships and losing 3 aircraft.

    Eyewitnesses recount that hundreds of Orwellians, cupping flaming, dripping candles in their hands, stood vigil outside Eric Blair’s modest abode igloo during his bout with the flu. Many were said to have stared menacingly at the anxious hens, however.

  9. Meanwhile:
    In the North Sea—The minesweeper HMS Sphinx sinks a day after being bombed by German aircraft.
    The Winter War—Fourteen are killed and 179 injured in heavy Soviet air raids on Helsinki and the surrounding area. A total of 141 targets (towns, rail junctions, harbors) are attacked.

  10. Stephen says:

    13 March!! This is one bad bout of flu.

  11. david Walsh says:

    Bear in mind he was not a well man overall – the Morroco visit in 1939 was for health reasons.

  12. In the North Atlantic… The British destroyer HMS Antelope sinks a U-boat in the south-western approaches to Britain.

  13. February Very dull and rather cold with near normal rainfall. Mean Temperature 3.3°C Monthly Highest 12.0°C Total Rain 41 mm Monthly Lowest -5.7°C Total Sun 25 hrsThe first 2 days of February were cold but it then became milder, dull and misty. During the second week it became very cold but with plenty of dry, if rather cloudy, weather. There were frosty nights, and the maximum temperature on the 14th was only minus 1.1°C. On the 19th, snow turned to rain, producing a total of nearly 9mm. The remainder of the month was milder and fairly changeable, as Atlantic frontal systems brought bands of rain but also a few sunny days.

  14. bobrocket says:


    I have noticed that the weather G.O. and his alter ego E.J.R. are experiencing bear a striking resemblance to the weather we are currently experiencing in West Wales.

    I intend to create a new feed from the On War website which should be available in a couple of weeks. I have a shed to put up first and a hen house (some eggs hopefully :)

  15. The weather here (in the shadow of the hulking Cowboys Stadium) has been somewhat unusual but that it is always predictable for this locale. Other U.S. locations to the north and east have seen interesting meteorological phenomenon.

  16. andrew says:

    hoping for a giant snow here in boston tomorrow – and hoping to avoid eric’s flu, whatever brand it is.

  17. Smudged Kohl says:

    He’s gone for a while. What of the chickens?
    George Orwell sneezes, and blows violently into a kerchief.

    Oh and was he living on his own at this time?

  18. MarilynClare says:

    For JamesonLewis3rd

    Hang on a moment! In order to be a perfectly accurate reflection of Orwell’s world, we in England were still using degrees Fahrenheit then (not those naughty, uncivilized Centigrade units).

    I see it’s snowing rather heavily in Hertfordshire this morning.

  19. Steve says:

    Interesting post from EJR today, complete with a description of antiaircraft batteries firing.

  20. Pingback: Could Be Worse « Small Streams

  21. Heather says:

    Boy. I hope the pump is still okay.

  22. wordsmithsuk says:

    I’m rather worried about the chickens – is anyone keeping count of how many are laid each day?

  23. Logrus says:


    How many chickens are laid each day?!? or how many eggs? Hmm… ambiguous this english is…

    Which came first?

  24. Ivarsson says:

    Thirteenth of march? How completely inconsiderate of old George not to write for so long a time; his ink must have frozen or something.

    Anyway, as Confusius says on the thirteenth of march (Ch 3, verse 13):

    “Better pay court to a stove,
    than pay court to the Shrine”

    We needn’t say more…

  25. Greg says:

    For fertilized eggs, the chickens are laid first. Then the eggs.

  26. Stephen says:

    Well we can certainly amuse ourselves, even in the absence of poor old flu-raddled GO. Less than a month to go now. Haiku anyone?

  27. Steve says:

    How about a debate about whether haiku in English should have the same 5-7-5 syllable/line structure as in Japanese? Many learned people argue that English is a more efficient language, so shorter haiku are permitted — or needed — to encapsulate images.

  28. a rash on my brain
    eludes attempts to scratch it
    straight jacket to blame

  29. Steve says:

    rumour of war:
    barrage balloon
    over Colchester

  30. In between marathon viewings of Military Channel and Inglourious Basterds in an attempt to get myself back on topic, I was inspired to write this odious ode:

    Snake Plissken knocked on my door.
    I hid myself beneath the floor.
    Need I say more?
    Been under here for weeks.

  31. George~~

    Does the word “hitherto” mean since The Big Bang or since Creation?

    Also: I admit that starting a sentence with a preposition is grammatically questionable behaviour, do you?

  32. Moll says:

    When the cat’s
    the mice
    Down at Animal Farm

  33. Today, Wednesday the 21st, The Inspectorate of Concentration Camps reports to Himmler that Auschwitz Camp, in “Incorporated Territories” of Poland, is suitable for use as a “quarantine center.”

  34. Steve says:

    Sunday, 22nd February, 1846: Nathaniel Bryceson ‘got to wicked tricks’ with Ann Fox, waiting out a rainstorm.

  35. Karina says:

    Hmm… I wonder….will be given an accumulated egg count in March?

    The war office announces that northern Scotland is to become out of bounds for unauthorized people from March 11th. Meanwhile, the liner Queen Elizabeth (83,700 t.) leaves Clydebank with a skeleton crew on a secret maiden voyage to Halifx, Nova Scotia and New York. She is equipped with giant electric “de-gaussing” cable, to neutralize magnetic mines.
    I wonder if Eric/George spent any of today commemorating the Clerk who did something annoying for eight hours on a Thursday in 1846; 94 years along a Wormhole Tributary to Westminster.

  37. Clarification:
    It’s still the 26th here. -6 GMT or 1931 CST

  38. Don’t ask me why; it’s all very mysterious, but I flashed back a few months to an excerpt of what Winston Churchill said in a radio broadcast on 01 October 1939:

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

  39. I couldn’t help but grin when I noticed that today is the Wednesday (28 February) in 1940 when divers recover three rotors from the Enigma enciphering machine on board the scuttled U-33.

    Tomorrow, the 29th, our part-time protagonist, the other Eric, heads from Colchester Castle to London for a rendezvous with a friend during a stopover on her way to Kent from Cornwall for a spot of “tea at the station, one of the few stations in London where the tea does not taste like paraffin, and … a good talk.”

    Citing an obscure leap year anomaly, George Orwell denies having uncovered this information in the course of his covert surveillance operations at the tea shop.

  40. In our parallel universe, it is Leap Day, so, in the West Indies, the destroyer HMS Despatch intercepts the German merchant ship Troja off Aruba. The ship is scuttled by her German crew.
    Meanwhile, in Uruguay, the wreck of the scuttled German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee is sold to a local company for scrap.

    Our very own sector of the space/time continuum exists as Friday, March 1st, and the maximum temperature in London is only 5.4°C. My operatives in Berlin report that the final directive for the invasion of Norway and Denmark is issued. I am also informed that Sumner Welles (US Under-Secretary of State) arrives for talks and meets with Hitler who says “there is no other solution than a life-and-death struggle.”

    Concurrently, Soviet forces are within 6 km of the center of Viipuri. Fierce aerial dog fights take place over the city. The Soviet ultimatum putting peace proposals to Finland expires.

  41. andrew says:

    get better soon, eric!

    something to inspire you:

    rice, habaneros
    chicken, peanut sauce, garlic
    cabbage, olive oil

  42. Meanwhile, it’s Wednesday, the 6th, so the other Eric divulged the following excerpt from an interview with his psychiatrist:

    Mrs. Townsend sent to the Museum her husband’s uniform that he wore in the Volunteers in the last war. He was a captain, and my Father was a sergeant.

  43. While you’re waiting, perhaps you would like to browse the current issue of Popular Science Monthly; fresh off the scanner. As you flip through, you’ll about mine technology [page 78] and other cool stuff like how the Navy trains its deep sea divers [page 98].

  44. Greg says:

    Very nice. The issue’s cover device described more fully on p. 129 looks pretty exciting, too. It sounds like they may need a bit more time to work out all the bugs, though.


  45. Of course, for some in-depth insight, Eleanor R. writes a daily column for the masses.

  46. Stephen says:

    March 8th: Only 5 more sleeps.

  47. Steve says:

    I wish there were a way to discuss Nathanial Bryceson’s 1846 diary at his site, and forgive this if you’re not following it, but today he “Took walk…through Marylebone, Lisson Grove, up Edgware Road leaving Kilburn to left to Hampstead over the Heath and homeward across the Fields, between the Hampstead and Highgate Roads, till I got to Taylor’s Alms Houses.”

    He does this kind of thing all the time — does anyone know how far this walk is?

  48. Barry larking says:

    “I couldn’t help but grin when I noticed that today is the Wednesday (28 February) in 1940 when divers recover three rotors from the Enigma enciphering machine on board the scuttled U-33”.

    They were ‘recovered’ from the pocket of a hapless submariner who forgot to dump them before he was picked up. Orwell was curiously exercised by the fate of submariners – he wrote that he was dreadfully upset by the Thetis disaster (1939) and at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic pointed out that every time a U boat was sunk forty (sic) men of above average physique and courage were “suffocated”.

  49. andrew says:

    just 4 more days! i’m freaking out!!!

  50. andrew says:

    i’m so nervous. what’s he going to say?

  51. Fay Shirley says:

    This isn’t a cruel hoax is it? The diary really will start again tomorrow won’t it?

  52. I hope he includes a sketch of something he built during his absence using techniques he learned in the marketplaces and alleyways of Marrakech along with the egg count.

    As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later.

    A diagram of the hidden room in the attic of the cottage known as The Stores in Wallington [where at least one two-way radio crackled in the dead of night] would be nice; or, maybe, a blueprint of the subterranean bunker beneath the coop. Spin the Skull of the Jackal 360° [anti-clockwise] for entry—watch the first step.

  53. Pingback: 13.3.40 « THE ORWELL PRIZE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s