Tag Archives: Diaries

A West African Diary part two

freetown_1947In our first extract from the diary kept by an anonymous male visitor ( possibly of African heritage) to West Africa early in 1954 we left him looking around Freetown in February. We continue with his observations from the 13thof that month.


‘ People one pass in the street at 7.30 a.m. have pleasant odour. Had some paw-paw this morning. Did nothing spectacular this morning and afternoon. Went to the City Hotel this evening with Mr John and meet there a Swede seaman who had been in hospital. He is waiting for a ship to go home.


Feb 14.

I went to the City Hotel this morning for a cup of tea. From the Hotel veranda I saw a queer thing—a middle age European and wife entered their car; the wife sat in front with the driver, the husband sat in the back alone. Got a cable from Sam at 11 o/c A.M.


15 Feb.

Camara & I went to the City Hotel. There we were invited into the august comp. of Lawyer Mahoney, Markus Jones, Admin. Officer, who travelled on the Apapa with us, and a local newspaper man, and a building contractor. The discussions were very enlighting.


16 February.

I saw a distasteful scene this afternoon in a primary school near Victoria Pk. A teacher was caning juvenile with all the vigour he can muster. Its was discraceful . Advance 30/- to John.


February 17, 1954.

I met a Somali in Victoria Pk. We were both listening to the radio news . Finally we got to know each other . I learnt a lot from him. He is a Moslem. The Syrians and the Indians in Freetown do not respect nor trust the inhabitants . They would rather keep a stranger in the city. There are three million Syrians out of Syria. Continue reading

Another jolly good goose supper !

Another piece for this modern day ‘Diary of a Nobody ‘Tjaden diary 1950 pic 001(although William L. Tjaden was actually somebody in the gardening world). Should have gone up at Christmas, but better late etc.,

The words of our previously unidentified gardener diarist ( see earlier extracts from a 1957 diary) on Friday 29 December 1950. He has now been unmasked as William L. Tjaden (b.1913), who was married to the adorable Madge in 1945 and by 1950 had become the 37 year-old Chairman of the North Kent Dahlia and Gladioli Society.

In the quieter days of these immediate post-war years, long before the festive season was an excuse to stuff your face with chocolates while watching box sets, life in the Tjaden household at Christmas was a time for still more potting, transplanting and tying up plants. In a period when for many, including the Tjadens, the wireless and the gramophone were the only sources of home entertainment, William and Madge took advantage of both in the dark and freezing winter of 1950. And in a rather Dickensian note we find that before factory farms had made chicken and turkey available to all, goose was perhaps the more popular festive poultry. The Tjadens ate Polish goose on Christmas Day, while the same meat was eaten on the 29thand 30th. If this was the same goose it must have been a huge one.

Nor did New Year’s Eve (a Sunday) mean a rest from gardening chores. William cycled over to Bexley to buy 2 gallons of creosote ( shopping on Sunday was, it seems, legal then ) and spent all afternoon attending to his growing frames. Instead of copious amounts of alcohol, the couple took tea at 6.45, and having taken a decision to ‘ ignore the New Year ‘, were in bed by 11. [R. Healey]

Diary of a Nobody (Part 3)

Innsbruck 1957On 4thJuly 1957 our gardening civil servant and his wife Madge left London for their fortnight in Austria and Italy. Rather unusually ( but perhaps not so unusual for 1957 ) the couple cycledto town, deposited their rucksacks at the Air Terminal ( was this near Victoria coach station back then?) and then left their bikes at his place of work. They then caught a bus to London Airport, from where they flew by Swissair Metropolitan to Zurich, arriving at dawn. From here they took a train on a very hot day to Innsbruck and by early afternoon were settled in their hotel, the Weisses Kreug.

Being British our gardener devotes time to recording the weather ( from ‘Hot—jolly hot’ to ‘rains all morning’ and ‘rains slightly  in afternoon’) , praising good meals and complaining about not so good meals,  briefly mentioning sights visited and photos taken. Most of the holiday was spent among the mountains of northern Italy—in places like Cortina, Vigo di Fasso, and Bolzano, where they exalt in finding a restaurant that offers ‘ 2 courses incl. meat for 360L’. One of the main reasons for choosing this part of Austria and Italy is the prospect of locating Alpine flowers to photograph. They do find ‘ a fine meadow of alpine flowers ‘ and later our gardener leads Madge up Mount Marmolata in search of Entrichium, but fails to locate any. However ‘we do find other nice plants to photo…’ They also bump into the Olympic stands that were used in the previous February for the ‘Cresta Run’ and skating. Continue reading