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May 21, 1939: What Is on George Orwell's Mind?

Let's enter the Wayback Machine, Sherman:

THE ORWELL PRIZE: Today & yesterday fine, but it is still not any too warm. Roses here are in full bud & almost out. Greenfly very bad. Lupins almost out. London Pride (kind of large saxifrage) is out. The gardener here says that the number of varieties of rose is much exaggerated, as old varieties which have dropped out of fashion & been almost forgotten are revived under a new name. Saw yesterday a swift & a turtle dove, the first I have seen this year, owing to illness. Hawthorn is well out, especially the pink. Hay looks pretty good.

At the Zoo on 19.5.39. Much interest in the manatee, which I had only vaguely heard of before. An animal about the size of a large seal, with broad tail behind & two flippers of some kind in front. The head is doglike, with small eyes, the surface of the body seems like that of an elephant, but is slimy from being in the water. Movement very sluggish. The peculiar feature is the mouth, which is fringed with large hairs & acts with a kind of sucking movement to draw food in. The creature is very tame & lets itself be touched. It appears that this is the only vegetarian water-mammal. Could not be sure whether it inhabits fresh or salt water or both.

The elephant refuses radishes, which both deer & monkeys eat readily. Marmoset refuses spring onions, which most monkeys eat. Note that some S. American monkeys can almost hang by the tail alone, ie. by the tail & one hand or foot. Mouflon, the N. African kind, have bred very freely in the Zoo & look in better condition than those in Marrakech. Two families of lion cubs at present, & evidently attempts are being made to cross a lion & a tiger.