No restaurant on the train between Naples and Sicily. The car-conductor made black coffee in a little kettle at the end of the corridor. I had two cups with great joy at 8 a.m.
|Messina train ferry|
Kahn telegraphed saying 'they' would arrive tomorrow afternoon. He is attentive.
Higher above the hotel than the hotel is above the sea I saw, peeping over the edge of a precipice, some roofs of a village. I said to myself: "I shall not reach it, but I will walk towards it." The mule-path was bad. It might easily have been made quite good; but such it was and such it had been for centuries. I wondered why the villagers up aloft didn't do something about it for their own sakes - etc. in our superior British way. Then it occurred to me that the path was not maintained simply because it was not used sufficiently to warrant maintenance. Exhausted, I was about to slither down again to Taormina when a woman emerged from a garden and told me, what I already knew, that the path was "cattiva". But she also told me that I should arrive at the village in 10 minutes. Then she gave me a fruit new to my experience; it was like a very large, thin, flat fig, and sweeter than a fig. lastly, with much amiability, she took two lire from me for the fruit, which might have been worth half a lire.
In 10 minutes I was in the village. Squalor of the acutest. One great slum. The children, festering in the dirt, utterly different from the children of Taormina, 800 feet below. I reached the public square, which overlooked the precipice. In the corner of the square a war memorial:
Additionally for April 18th., see 'More potboiling'
Today I sat on a Coroner's Jury at Fulham and heard four cases, including one suicide through religious mania. I was struck by several things:
The decency of people in general;
The common sense and highly-trained skill of the coroner;
The dramatic quality of sober fact. In two instances, the deceased persons had died from causes absolutely unconnected with the superficial symptoms. Thus a woman who had brought on a miscarriage and died had died from heart disease;
The sinister influence of the ugliness amid which the lower classes carry on their lives;
The enormous (as it were) underground activity of the various charitable and philanthropic agencies which spread themselves like a network over London. It would seem that nothing could happen, among a certain class of society, without the cognizance of some philanthropic agency;
The dullness and the conscientiousness of a jury;
The absolute thoroughness with which suspicious deaths are inquired into.