Left 9 am. and took bus to Hanley. Walked round Hanley and part of Burslem. Frightfully cold, bitter wind, and it had been snowing in the night; blackened snow lying about everywhere. Hanley and Burslem about the most dreadful places I have seen. Labyrinths of tiny blackened houses and among them the pot-banks like monstrous burgundy bottles half buried in the soil, belching forth smoke. Signs of poverty everywhere and very poor shops. In places enormous chasms delved out, one of them about 200 yards wide and about as deep, with rusty iron trucks on a chain railway crawling up one side, and here and there on the almost perpendicular face of the other, a few workmen hanging like samphire-gatherers, cutting into the face with their picks apparently aimlessly, but I suppose digging out clay. Walked on to Eldon[1] and lunch at pub there. Frightfully cold. Hilly country, splendid views, especially when one gets further east and hedges give way to stone walls. Lambs here seem much more backward then down south. Walked on to Rudyard Lake. [2]

Rudyard Lake (really a reservoir, supplying the pottery towns) very depressing. In the summer it is a pleasure resort. Cafes, houseboats and pleasure-boats every ten yards, all deserted and flyblown, this being the offseason. Notices relating to fishing, but I examined the water and it did not look to me as though it had any fish in it. Not a soul anywhere and biter wind blowing. All the broken ice had been blowing up to the south end, and the waves were rocking it up and down, making a clank-clank, clank-clank – the most melancholy noise I ever heard. (Mem. to use in novel some time and to have an empty Craven A packet bobbing up and down among the ice.)

Found hostel, about 1 mile further on, with difficulty. Alone again. A most peculiar place this time. A great draughty barrack of a house, built in the sham-castle style – somebody’s Folly – about 1860. All but three or four of the rooms quite empty. Miles of echoing stone passages, no lighting except candles and only smoky little oilstoves to cook on. Terribly cold.

Only 2/8d left, so tomorrow must go into Manchester (walk to Macclesfield, then bus) and cash cheque.

Distance walked, 12 miles. Spent on conveyances 1/8. On food, 2/8.

[1] Presumably Endon.

[2] Rudyard Lake: Orwell had to make a detour to walk by Rudyard Lake. Dr Robert Fyson has shown why Orwell did this. In 1863, Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald had a picnic here. They married two years later and when their first child was born they gave him the name Rudyard. Rudyard Kipling died on the 18 January 1936 and Orwell had written an appreciation of him published on 23 January in New English Weekly (CW, X, pp. 409-10). In this he wrote ‘now that he is dead, I for one cannot help wishing that I could offer some kind of tribute – a salute of guns, if such a thing were available – to the story-teller who was so important to my childhood’. This detour, in the bitter cold, was his tribute.

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2 Responses to 3.2.36

  1. Ken says:

    Did Orwell ever use the memory of clanking ice with a Craven A cigarette also floating on the water in any of his novels/writing?

  2. Keep the Aspidistra? 1984?

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