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Monday, 14 July 2014

Bastille day

Thursday morning, July 14th., Bastille Day, Rue de Calais, Paris.

Although I rested well last night, I heard the music of the feteeach time I wakened, so at 4 a.m. I persuaded myself to get up and take a look at it. There was one roundabout going in the Place Blanche. Everything else was closed. A bright, hot morning. All the greatrestaurants de nuits were closed, but one cafe, the Coquet, next to the Cyrano, was open and had tables in the street. The stout lady in the cash-desk seemed just as usual. The 'place' was thick with serpentins. A few cabs waiting about, and a few idlers like myself. The women on the roundabout screamed just as they always do. They did not look very tired. There were four on one pig.

I then went towards the Opera. I saw that the footpaths were swept by women in blue - with magnificent carriage and figures. I suppose that is due to the magnificent gesture of the broom. On the Boulevard des Italiens, three of them abreast were sweeping the broad trottoir. It was  fine sight. At the Opera a large crowd for the matinee gratuite had already gathered - some hundreds; policemen to keep order.

This was the real people - dirty, stinking, brutal, importunate; the scum! nearly all men but just a few women. Some persons were lying asleep on the pavement. I noticed many other early morning items and fete day items: such as omnibuses passing, full of policemen in spotless white trousers; a cavalry officer in full splendour walking to his rendezvous; many people beginning the day's enjoyment on their way to railway stations etc.; the women dozing in the newspaper kiosks awaiting the morning papers; a youth walking along the middle of the road smoking a pipe a yard long; a drunken man trying to get up a fight with a barman concerning a small tricolour which he carried. Many bars were open. I returned home at 5.5 and wrote this at once.

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