Diaries

THIRTY YEARS ON, MONTH BY MONTH, SELECTED PAGES FROM MY DIARIES > About

November 1991

Saturday November 2, London           Today, I’m writing in a pub called The Warrington. It’s on the Edgeware side of Maida Vale, built on land that was fields in Restoration times. Pepys may have come this way on horse, but probably never ventured so far on foot, Saint Mary-le-Bone [Marylebone] being as far as heContinue reading “November 1991”

October 1991

Saturday October 5, Paris           The dominant tense of Pepys’ diary is the preterit. Many diarists, myself included, often use the narrative present for greater immediacy. Only people who are pretending to be diarists, writing a column for a newspaper, say, naively use the present tense throughout under the mistaken impression that it is theContinue reading “October 1991”

September 1991

Friday September 13, Paris           I’m sitting in my window seat in the 747, reading still by the light of day the novel I bought yesterday, William Boyd’s Stars and Bars. On the cover, it says: ‘How one British chap tried to escape American hospitality.’ When Carole spotted this, she said pointedly, “You don’t wantContinue reading “September 1991”

August 1991

Sunday August 4, Daglan, Dordogne           We went to Cénac on the river Dordogne to bathe. The river flows past strongly across smooth brown pebbles that are surprisingly painful to walk on. A constant stream of canoes heads downriver. The Dutch women paddle bare-breasted. Right down by the river is a campsite. Half of the siteContinue reading “August 1991”

July 1991

Thursday July 4, Paris           After class at the bank, I went to Smith’s in the rue de Rivoli to buy my holiday reading with a clear idea that I would only get what I would be itching to pick up from my bedside table. I briefly scanned the new novels section with its piles ofContinue reading “July 1991”

June 1991

Sunday June 2, Paris           Now here’s something of a coincidence: although born in England, Elizabeth Pepys had a French father who was born in Anjou – just like my father-in-law. And not so very far away, as it turns out. Every French person knows that the Anjou region has two boasts: the douceur, or mildness of itsContinue reading “June 1991”

May 1991

Wednesday May 1, Paris             Miserable bloody day again; a north wind, a grey sky and rain threatening.             A distant relative has sent me some documents about the family – or rather, about people with the family name. He’s not fussy about the spelling either – which multiplies the numbers. He writes that he has consultedContinue reading “May 1991”

April 1991

Friday April 5, Paris             Seven and a half hours teaching non-stop today. I start with l’ENA* where all I had to do was enthuse about London and suggest some not-so-obvious excursions to two civil servants who are going to spend three weeks there. Then raced to the bank and got one of my executives talkingContinue reading “April 1991”

March 1991

Sunday March 3, Paris           Just been through Amiens on the train going to the hovercraft. It looks like a fine place. There are lakes near it with tall, straight trees, their new buds glistening in the sunshine. My head feels like it’s had too much smoke, making me recall the unpleasant side of my oldContinue reading “March 1991”

February 1991

Friday February 1, Paris           I’m writing this with Emma sitting on my knee arranging her Duplo people around the keyboard. I refer to the notes made this morning in the café La Nouvelle France in the rue La Fayette: it’s sixty-five years since André Breton sat at this same terrace bewitched by Nadja. If he’dContinue reading “February 1991”

January 1991

Tuesday January 8, Paris           There are at last ‘talks’ tomorrow in Geneva between the Americans and the Iraqis but nobody is expecting them to last very long and war looks inevitable. When there is a refusal to talk things over the only outcome can be confrontation. And this is what we are sliding towards withoutContinue reading “January 1991”

December 1990

Monday December 10, Paris           I feel dreadful this morning; have a headache, feel weak and have almost lost my voice. It’s freezing cold and, by the time I get into the classroom, it has started snowing. It snows all day and, by evening, it’s thick on the ground and the cars. It doesn’t excite meContinue reading “December 1990”


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