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Monday, 9 December 2013

Interesting people

Sunday, December 9th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Better arrangements must be made for keeping this damned journal! 

On Thursday last I made my debut at the Other Club, to which I was elected without my knowledge. I sat next to F. E. Smith, who is a live companion, inclined to recount his achievements, but interesting and informed. Duke of Marlborough in the chair - merely to propose the royal health. An irritating anachronism, but people dislike change, even for the better.
Also see 'Storm in a political teacup', November 23rd., -

F. E. Smith and Winston Churchill
Churchill, who in 1910 was Liberal Home Secretary, and barrister and Conservative MP F. E. Smith had not been invited to join the venerable political dining club known just as The Club. Although both had friends in it, the members thought Churchill and Smith too controversial. So they established their own club, to be called by contrast "The Other Club". The first dinner was on 18 May 1911. Twelve rules were written for the club, mostly by F. E. Smith, and they were, and are still, read aloud at each dinner. Churchill claimed to have contributed the last,12. "Nothing in the rules or intercourse of the Club shall interfere with the rancour or asperity of party politics."  Election to the club depended on Smith and Churchill believing members to be "men with whom it was agreeable to dine". 

Sir Mark Sykes seemed the most interesting man there. He did a very original caricature of F. E. Smith and me. I heard he was the best amateur actor in England. He certainly has brains, and political brains. Lutyens amiably played the amusing fool. I greatly enjoyed the affair.

Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, 6th Baronet (1879 – 1919) was an English traveller, Conservative Party politician and diplomatic adviser, particularly about matters respecting the Middle East at the time of the First World War. He is associated with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, drawn up while the war was in progress, regarding the apportionment of postwar spheres of interest in the Ottoman Empire to Britain, France and Russia. Sykes was in Paris in connection with peace negotiations in 1919. At the conference, a junior diplomat present, Harold Nicolson, described Sykes' effect: "It was due to his endless push and perseverance, to his enthusiasm and faith, that Arab nationalism and Zionism became two of the most successful of our war causes." He died in his room at the Hotel Lotti near the Tuileries Garden on 16 February 1919, aged 39, a victim of the Spanish flu pandemic.

Turkish baths and a little dissipation have lately improved my health and greatly improved my capacity for finding ideas and working.

Additionally for December 9th., see -

Instinctively, and all the time, I was comparing it with my own, and in particular comparing Margaret Ogilvy and J.M. Barrie with my mother and myself. Again and again, I had to acknowledge inferiority - inferiority of essential 'character', apart from inessential talent - a lack of bigness, and a presence of certain littlenesses. yet at the same time, I found us sturdy enough not to be ashamed of shortcomings. What we are, we are! "I exist as I am, that is enough." To hold such a creed religiously is in one way to be great.
A proud and self-unconscious self-esteem; that is what few people have. If at times it deserts me and mine, it always returns the stronger for having retreated. We are of the North, outwardly brusque, stoical, undemonstrative, scornful of the impulsive; inwardly all sentiment and crushed tenderness. We are of the North, incredibly, ruthlessly independent; and eager to say "Damn you" to all the deities at the least hint of condescension.

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