There’s something exceptionally comforting about keeping a diary on a regular basis. It listens to you in times of trouble, shares your happiest moments, catalogues the dates of big events , wallows mutually in the misery of boring rainy days and reminds you later in life of those fantastic and exciting adventures you had in the sun when you were younger. It never lets you down as it’s always there, doesn’t answer back like a petulant child and gives fleeting glimpses of change in one’s own views and personality traits over the years…
Take my own history of diaries for instance. At the ripe old age of 11 when I was about to enter puberty and was oh so unsure of myself, my dad bought me a diary for Christmas. He’d watched my pre-teen emotional floundering and unable to understand or share my thoughts adequately, had thought it a good idea to pass on his enjoyment of ‘subjective self-journalism’ as he called it. This prompted him to give me my first beautiful book of thought which I still treasure to this day. He had inscribed a message neatly at the front of the book, expressing his belief that diaries were a great way of letting off emotional steam safely and untangling the ball of spaghetti which dominated the mind on occasion; particularly a pre-pubescent mind. He hoped I would enjoy the refuge of my book as much as he always had and would furthermore enjoy looking back on it or them years ahead.
With or without his heartfelt message, he needn’t have worried. From the first night of chatting away to my diary and progressing to current day’ s ‘essays’, I’ve never looked back. The comfort of writing to myself, but ostensibly someone else completely faceless was infinitely tangible from the start. I soon progressed from writing the odd line or two (for filling my small daily diary slot), to adding extra pages from text books in order to adequately relay the thoughts, feelings, ideas, disappointments, triumphs and events. Despite retaining the most wonderful relationship with my parents during my teens, I still spent many an hour favouring the company of my diary to unpick the confusion of failed relationships with grimy- nailed teenage boys or catty spats with the girls from high school.
Even when I left home and started university, my faithful old diary came with me. It shared the unrepeatable horrors I experienced of living away from home for the first time, in an ancient old hall of residence with a matriarchal maniac of a warden running the show. It shared my joys of discovering new male company and sneaking them to my room behind potted plants and dodging the fossilised security guard with his runaway false teeth. It witnessed the highs and lows of exam time and the warm summer evenings my friends and I enjoyed beneath the cherry blossoms watching the liquid sunset preceding our finals the next day.
Years of diary keeping followed, with the chronicles of my marriage, children’s births and my dear beloved parent s deaths, but the comfort and sheer entertainment remain as strong as ever. If nothing else even, the diary is a wonderful journal of events occurring in the world at a given time, and the fashions of various celebrities to appear and disappear from our collective view.
Just the other day, I browsed cheerily through a diary from 1999. My fiancé and I had travelled to the island of Zakynthos and I had compiled a special week of entries for the event.
I laughed as I read, realizing that my minds’ eye hadn’t replicated the holiday quite the same way as my diary of the time had . One paragraph read:
8th July: “Had a tough day of crucifying my skin today. Fell off the moped twice and burnt my shoulders not realizing we’d ridden so far unprotected. Found a stray kitten at the side of the road and spent the whole day miming to confused Greeks that we needed to find the creature a home. Dropped “Lucky” (hahah) off at an animal sanctuary after much hysterical flailing of arms for added animation in the direction of the locals. Does all the gesticulating REALLY help in a foreign country??
Went for dinner after all the excitement. Food was appalling. Moussaka looked like it was designed to be an edible insult and the wine tasted of Castrol GTX. What else could be expected when you’re being served by Sporty Spice and Sylvester McCoy? Nil Point.”
Today, I received the 2012 edition of my favourite diary format. It was just like welcoming a very dear old friend back home for a jolly good old chat by the fire. If you haven’t ever tried it yet and you find yourself at a loose end on day, it’s definitely recommended for the ‘to do ‘ list. Many people never look back.
©Tess Egerton 2012