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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Strike fears

Thursday, October 13th., Villa des Nefliers.

Weather still very mild. But today, owing to heavy rains, we had to lunch indoors. This is our first indoor autumn lunch.

Railway strike since Monday night, but we are not affected. Each evening I have gone to the station to get Le Temps and each evening the crowd and the anxiety of the crowd waiting for the papers have increased. Yesterday evening, as the news was disquieting, I went again to the station after dinner to post a letter to Cook's asking for bank-notes.

An omnibus slowly overtook me on its way to the station. Even on this line the strike had been announced to begin at 8 p.m. last night. There were a few dim figures in the fearfully badly lighted omnibus that went very slowly along - decrepit horses, etc. A mediaeval vehicle even at best and the impression last night was of the saddest and most wistful vehicle that ever lumbered along. The voyageurs seemed wrapped up in sadness. Where were they going? would they ever arrive? Where would they spend the night? The worst of these awful omnibuses is the lamp and the deafening rattle of the windows as the thing jolts along ...

However, there has been no strike on this line.

The present unrest among the French wage-workers, as with the increasingly bitter struggle for more wages in other countries, has been quickened by the general increase in the cost of living. For a considerable time the railway workers, especially, have been in ferment. Many meetings have been held, and innumerable resolutions passed. The chief of their demands were (and are) the establishment of a minimum wage of 5 francs (barely 4s.) a day – a large number of them receive, in fact, as little as 5Frs. 75 (3s) per day! The whole of their modest demands, and their entire procedure, were distinctly professional in character, despite the lying statements of the renegade Briand that it is a political insurrectional movement. Many thousands of arrests have been made, nevertheless, and terms of imprisonment have fairly rained upon the unfortunate strikers.

The play goes on steadily. I ought to finish the second act on Saturday. Although there are four acts, this means that at least two thirds of the actual work is done.

Additionally for October 13th., see 'Arriving in the New World' -

I was interviewed by two journalists apparently on behalf of the crowd. This was while ship was manoeuvring into dock. And at last we were on shore, after I had been interviewed by three other people.

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