Harold Nicolson se dagboek en briewe, 1945-1962, deel 2
Dit is my laaste skrywe oor Harold Nicolson se Diaries and Letters, 1945-1962. Hier volg ’n aantal treffende opmerkings van Harold en ander persone. Harold: "Anything you write will be lasting, but administrative work dies with you" (p 44). "What one writes is a revelation of what one is" (p 386). "I never feel that being able to broadcast is a respectable gift" (p 78). "Success does not render a dirty trick any less dirty" (p 314). Wat ek baie interessant gevind het, is die opmerking dat in BBC-geledere ’n nie-standaard uitspraak van Engels, bv cockney, "off-white" genoem is (p 208). [As bv Kaaps "naaswit-Afrikaans" genoem word, sou daar sekerlik luide protes wees.]
Toe Harold ’n artikel oor Duff Cooper vir die Dictionary of National Biography moes skryf, kon hy nie by die voorgeskrewe lengte hou nie. Die teks het agt pleks van vyf bladsye beslaan. "It is not my gift to compress into tiny spaces ... It is like writing a chapter of Ezekiel on a sixpence" (p 276).
Die stadsmens Harold het aan sy vrou, ’n geswore plattelander, geskryf: "I love seeing you in London. It is like a country-bred puppy on a lead, seeking to escape up some side-street from the crowds on the pavement and the fierce traffic in the street" (p 308). Tydens hulle reis in die Verre-Ooste in 1957 is hulle deur allerhande elemente lastig geval. Oor sy vrou skryf Harold: "Vita is a fly-paper for bores. Not only does she attact the homely flies of Kent, the bumble-bees of Sussex and the dragon-flies of Surrey, but exotic insects wend their way towards the fly-paper from distant Borneo or Cathy" (p 331-332).
Hier volg myns insiens een van die grootste waarhede in Harold se dagboek: "The worst of being old is that one is apt to see the other person's point of view ... I am temperamentally unable to give even a faint breath of fanaticism to my conviction" (p 137). Hy het homself beskou as nie "temperamentally suited to old age ... I suffer from the sad defects of every epicurean. But I have at least the honesty to remain convinced that the epicurean is the only philosophy, if rightly understood as the art of life. Which implies a certain degree of virtue" (p 179). "It is dreadful when one notices in oneself the movements and gait of an old man" (p 190). "People should refrain from dancing once the joints begin to creak" (p 217).
"People ought not to live over 85. I think it such a terrible thing that one should go on living and cease to be oneself – leaving a different picture of oneself behind" (p 202). "Getting old ... is the greatest of human tragedies" (p 224). Na die dood van sy ma in 1951 het Harold geskryf: "I dislike having ceased suddenly to be anybody's son" (p 204). In 1955: "I am not frightened at all of death: but it saddens me, as I do not wish to say goodbye to all whom I love, or to leave this beautiful and varied world" (p 286).
"I have got so much out of life that the prospect of death fills me with no apprehension ... I shan't be there to feel sorrow" (p 302). In 1961: "I have ceased to be a social asset and become a liability" (p 396). Na die dood van ’n vriend: "We flop and drop like the apples in the orchard" (p 398). Toe hy hoor dat sy vrou kanker het, was sy reaksie: "It seems to sunder my life in two – the past being radiant with sunshine, and the present and future dark as night" (p 408).
"Nothing really happens which is as bad as the imagination forecasts" (p 89). Oor sy land: "If we cease to be honourable, we cease to be anything at all" (p 74) en ook: "We always go through these stages of being beastly to our friends because we are frightened of our enemies" (p 88). "The economic problem by which the world is faced is not communism versus capitalism but the machine versus man" (p 109). Alan Pryce-Jones het genoem dat hy in Amerika "was reproved by a perfectly intelligent woman for saying that someone 'came out here during the war'. Apparently 'out' sounds back-of-beyond and is very wounding. One must say 'over' here" (p 195).
Toe Harold die opdrag aanvaar het om die amptelike biografie van koning George V te skryf, bieg hy: "I did not like writing biographies when I could not tell the whole truth" (p 142). Sy gewaarwording toe hy die eerste sin van die boek skryf, was: "It is like starting in a taxi on the way to Vladivostok" (p 173). Later: "One simply must be firm with oneself about getting the architecture of books right" (p 175).
Tydens ’n vergadering van die London Library in 1951, "we decide to separate the posts of President and Chairman and to choose for the latter not a man of eminence, but a man who attends meetings. They therefore choose me" (p 211). In 1952 het Harold die Open Gate Club toegespreek. "It is a small exclusive club, and the gate is not open in the least" (p 221).
Jan Smuts: "'To do the right thing is generally the right thing to do.' ... He says that those who contend that time is an atmosphere and not a creative factor are denying all experience. There are situations in which time is the only solvent" (p 64). Ernest Bevin was in 1946 in ’n sin ’n voorloper van die Britse linguistiese wysbegeerte toe hy agtergekom het "how much our gaps in interpretation are due to the actual misemployment of words" (p 75). Toe Harold MacMillan in 1957 die leier van die Konserwatiewe Party geword het, het hy iets gesê wat deur baie politieke leiers in aangepaste vorm herhaal is: "The broad stream of Conservative thought was fed by many tributaries which we must not allow to dissolve into a shapeless delta" (p 330). Later het MacMillan beweer: "The greatest moments in our history have not been those when we have conquered, but when we have led" (p 331).
Die Chinese ambassadeur in Engeland het gesê daar is die volgende gesegde in Chinees: "Better to be a tile intact than a broken piece of jade." Later het hy gesê dit is eintlik andersom: "Better to be a broken piece of jade than a tile intact" (p 100). Jim Lees-Milne: "The English are lazy, lethargic, immensely stupid and in fact a destestable race" (p 106). Desmond MacCarthy: "The English do not appreciate subtlety unless it is underlined" (p 177). Wystan Auden "is in New York, from where he has issued a statement that he has no statement to make" (p 297). Dit herinner aan ’n soortgelyke stelling: "Simple minds work simply" (p 319).
Harold en ander persone het hulle raak oor indiwidue uitgelaat. Die Hertog van Windsor, volgens Harold, "has lost that fried-egg look around the eyes" (p 98). "The Queen Mother ... has that astonishing gift of being sincerely interested in dull people and dull occasions ... Somehow she creates ... an impression (indeed a radiance) of goodwill and good behaviour" (p 354). Stanley Baldwin "was a man of little imagination and less vision" (p 119).
Oor Winston Churchill: "His passion for the combative renders him insensitive to the gentle gradations of the human mind" (p 45). "How much better he is in the House [of Commons] than on a platform! How he loves it! He is looking white and fatty, a most unhealthy look, you would say, if he were anyone else, but somehow out of this sickly mountain comes a volcanic flash" (p 223). Enid Jones het gesê Churchill "is enormously influenced by words. A thing pungently expressed seems to him truer than wisdom dully produced" (p 112). Rab Butler "says that Winston is 'a magnificent animal' who has really no spiritual side at all" (p 79) en "Winston is so brave in war and so cowardly in peace" (p 224). Harold skryf Clement Attlee as eerste minister "compared to Winston [is] like a village fiddler after Paganini" (p 113). "Winston could talk to Stalin on more or less the same level. But if Attlee goes [to Moscow], it would be like a mouse addressing a tiger" (p 186). In 1952: "Attlee ... was sitting hunched up like an elf just out of its chrysalis" (p 222).
Oor die Nuremberg-aangeklaagdes: "They look drab, depressing, ill. They have the appearance of people who have travelled in a third-class railway carriage for three successive nights ... Jodl sits there looking exactly like a reliable family coachman of Victorian days" (p 58-59). Harold het die Britse spioen Guy Burgess, wat in 1951 na Moskou gevlug het, geken: "They will only use him for a month or so, and then shove him quietly into some salt-mine" (p 207). Bertrand Russell het van John Maynard Keynes gesê: "Obviously a nice man, but I did not enjoy his company. He made me feel a fool" (p 202). Couve de Murville "is so dry and plain, like a biscuit" (p 368).
In 1950 het Harold besoek aan Bernard Shaw se huis gebring. "The pictures, apart from one of Samuel Butler and two of Stalin and one of Gandhi, are exclusively of himself. Even the door-knocker is an image of himself ... I do not think that Shaw will be a great literary figure in 2000 AD" (p 197). Die aktrise Vivien Leigh het gesê: "Shaw is like a train. One just speaks the words and sits in one's place. But Shakespeare is like bathing in the sea – one swims where one wants" (p 297).
Oor Georges Simenon: "He says his method is to soak himself in the atmosphere of a place for three days; then to soak himself in his main character; thereafter the plot and the minor characters form themselves. His identification with his main character is so intense that if the man is old, he himself for three days adopts the movements of a dotard. If the main character is a drunkard, he himself will start drinking hard. Then he writes in a fever for ten days and the book is finished" (p 223-224).
John Betjeman "believes in the after-life in which we shall meet all the people we loved but none of those we disliked. I say, 'But what happens to those people who rather like me whereas I hate them?' He says, 'That is what I wish to believe. I cannot face extinction'" (p 243).
Jan Smuts het Duitsland in 1946 besoek en die Senaat toegespreek. "He told them that Germany must repent ... 'I also have belonged to a defeated nation ... We turned and worked. We ceased to think of the past'" (p 64). [In die nuwe Suid-Afrika word die verlede egter ten onregte voortdurend negatief voorgestel en daar word voorgegee dat die wittes nooit genoeg verskoning kan vra nie.]
Hiermee kom ek (vir eers) aan die einde van my skrywes oor die Nicolsons. Ek hoop maar ek het niemand verveel nie.