People sometimes ask me how and why I’ve been able to write a diary every day for the past 16 years and the main answer is: I just started doing so, and never wanted to break the habit – a bit like when you start devoutly following an exercise routine each day and don’t want to lose momentum by giving yourself a day off. But there are a couple of other reasons why I keep a diary too.
It’s not like I have the most interesting life – I work, I pay taxes, I go to fitness classes and bars and like to cook curries for dinner and watch movies in bed before sleeping. In other words, I’m just a typical British citizen. My past is one big algorithm of highs, lows and all those bits in the middle that constitute neither of the two. I’m not a famous figure nor a special figure and I never will be, so has it really been worth writing about the past 5870 days and counting? Well, I would like to think that one day it will be. I’d like to think that sometime in the future, when I’ve long since left this planet and am sat on a cloud in Heaven devouring a table of All-You-Can-Eat chinese buffet, that these books will fall into the hands of somebody, probably a descendant, who wants to know what life was really like this in century – for an ordinary person, not somebody blessed with the advantages of being a millionaire or having a special talent that could help them evade the more mundane, everyday stresses and strains of the real world.
My diaries have covered the days from childhood innocence to starting secondary school, as well as the developmental period of University, life in an office, and the travels I’ve been on. Entries have agonised over the emergence of acne at inconvenient times, moaned about some of the things people have done or said (particularly boys!) and detailed the passing away of various relatives. When I read back through the pages I remember some of the amusing things I may have otherwise have forgotten about, such as the awful attempt my friendship group made to be a pop-group on the school-field one lunchtime back in 1999, or the night in the first year of University when my flatmates and I had an evening in drinking wine and playing cards and ended up dancing around the kitchen to Motown music wearing bins (clean ones!) on our heads as hats. (What can I say? There was a presence of wine, youth and a bunch of crazy idiots who wanted to do everything they could to avoid doing their coursework).
Each Christmas I receive a new diary, and I’m now working my way through the sixteenth one. Today I felt like doing a little experiment… do you ever wonder how and when it is that we change? If each day we look more or less identical to how we did yesterday, and feel more or less like we did yesterday, at what point is it that our lives change? What’s really involved in the transition from being a baby to being wrinkled and grey?
I took each of my diaries and read the entry for today’s date – January 26th, in each. For obvious reasons I have removed the bits which were too personal, and not provided all names. You will find the entries aren’t particularly exciting, if at all, but they were never written to be a story.
So here you have it people, a non-dramatised, non-romanticised snapshot of growing up.
January 26th 1996, aged 10:
…Went into town. Mummy bought me a Valentines Disco suit, a packet of jelly beans, tights for school and a drink and ice-cream…
January 26th 1997, aged 11:
…Went for a bike ride along the canal. There was a good episode of the Simpsons on…
January 26th 1998, aged 12:
…Beth’s cyberpet died. Lost my new Pritt-Stick at school grr. Four bits of homework. Gym was boring…
January 26th 1999, aged 13:
…I’m fed up of all the arguing at school… I hate this… what will happen if the others form a different group, who will my best-friend be? I h8 this (oh look I’m so stressed I’m repeating myself. Why can’t we just all be friends again? It’s going to be impossible to have a good day at school from now on and I’m going to say so at lunch tomorrow. I’ll say, “Look, it’s no good pretending everything’s dandy, we must talk rationally about this”…
January 26th 2000, aged 14:
…Mrs Dey moaned at me in Maths and told me to sit up and look like I was doing something…In Physics we had a test about forces… At lunch the classroom was empty and so our group started going crazy and dancing around the room. In Technology X said to me, “Why did you tell us we couldn’t come into the classroom just because your lot was messing around?”, but I never said that to her!…
January 26th 2001, aged 15:
…For the first time in ages I was happy that it was a Friday. It’s been such a tiring week… Some of the others are going to London tomorrow, but they haven’t invited me – thanks! Well I wouldn’t go anyway to be honest… Got home and did the History homework. It took ages! Watched Neighbours. Beth rang, she is well. Cooked a steak and kidney pie for dinner and rang Emma for a chat…
January 26th 2002, aged 16:
…Spent the afternoon doing the English essay. Text Rupal. Ate some scampi for dinner and watched a bit of Pop Idol. Afterwards I went round to Gemma’s house. Perdie and Sian were also there and we watched a funny film called ‘The Dentist’. Got back at 10:45pm
January 26th 2003, aged 17:
…Went into town in the morning and bought loads of skincare products in Boots and a c.d. Was served by the same funny man that served me a few months ago, he recognised me! There are some strange people in Watford… Mum bought me some cool pink trousers like I’ve wanted for ages! Got some passport photos done though I’m starting to doubt the Berlin trip will go ahead so there’s probably no point. Spent the afternoon finishing my essay on Erasmus. I haven’t started the coursework even now and I only have a week left! The days are far too short!…
January 26th 2004, aged 18:
…Got a bit upset earlier, every day is just the same. I’m so crap in all my subjects too, especially Politics. The mocks are going to go so shite for me. I can already envisage a bunch of N’s and U’s on my results card. Why worry about what University I should pick? At this rate, I won’t get into any…
January 26th 2005, aged 19:
… I am so nervous about my driving test tomorrow. Had a lesson today at 8am. G says I’m bad when he’s not telling me what to do, but it’s because he’s talking about other things and it distracts me and I can’t focus on the road. I KNOW what I need to do, I just don’t concentrate. Came back home briefly before setting off to work… a long, boring day. A large lady in the queue was very impatient and pushed the lady in front of her, whom I was serving! I was nothing short of horrified! An old man was saddened by the fact we don’t sell pomegranate juice – JESUS! Walked home and watched a programme with mum about a mother and daughter who binge drink. It was gross…
January 26th 2006, aged 20:
…What a tiring day! Had to get up to have a consultation with Giselle about our R.S group work. I need to research the true meaning of the cross. Criminology lecture at 3, must try harder with that subject eurgh. X text me wanting to meet for a drink sometime, I don’t know whether or not to meet with him… In the afternoon we had a kiddies-theme birthday party for Rachel before going to the bar. Y rang asking me where we going, but he’s just a mate you know?… Was in a bad mood before bed. Dunno why exactly… I think I just need some time to myself. And if I meet with X again, will we get on well? I hope so, he seemed funny. I guess there is one way to find out…
January 26th 2007, aged 21:
…Sat through all 5 hours worth of lectures. It was okay, in the last one we just watched videos and had a debate about the rights of the victim! Got the bus home with Lucy and bought a takeaway dinner from Wing Ho. In the evening Laura and I went to the Sugarhouse. It wasn’t the best of nights… well it was ok, just a bit ‘hmm-y’. I don’t think I’m appreciating it enough and I think it’s because I’ve got so much work on right now. I’m not making it any easier for myself by going out most nights. A and B are having trouble with one of their flatmates. She is being off with them. It makes me wonder, what IS the need for bitchiness? I know I do it myself occasionally, but about friends? It’s just stupid. Laura said that people in the house don’t think I do enough washing up, but I don’t create as many dirty pans and dishes as they do. So obviously I’m not going to do as much washing up!
January 26th 2008, aged 22:
…Was woken up by a strange Italian-sounding man phoning me up and telling me he was my ‘good luck prince’ or something. Met Caroline and Martin for lunch in the Venue. Very nice. Afterwards I fancied some alone-time so I walked into Galgate, it’s a beautiful walk! Walked around the country lanes and came home. In the midst of studies and parties I forget about just how beautiful a place Lancaster is. I will miss it so much come Graduation. I can’t even think about that right now. Rang mum for a chat, all fine at home.
January 26th 2009, aged 23:
… Today was a long, boring day. I spent most of it doing Reports. I wonder how much of my life I actually spend copying and pasting? Had several caterers coming in today to sell sandwiches etc. Felt a bit bad that not many people bought anything :S Eeps. I’m getting so bored of my lunch-breaks; going to the same cafe for a coffee and feeling fucking freezing. Have a feeling I’m coming down with flu too – not good! January blues!! I’m also worried because I just don’t have a CLUE about my future. If only I could be one of those people that just KNEW what they wanted to do, and could then start working towards it. This job is getting so tedious and I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer. It’s funny, sometimes I think back to a year or so ago, would I have ever imagined that by now I’d be living and working in Watford still? Eurgh. At least now I have a beautiful nephew, one who I intend to spoil a LOT over time 🙂
January 26th 2010, aged 24:
…Went into town and did as much shopping as my limited funds would allow, which wasn’t much. Gabriel had his feet measured in John Lewis and enjoyed running around (made a beeline for the women’s tights – an assistant seemed quite smitten)… Had lunch in Nando’s and came home… Still trying to figure out what to do next in my life. I just want to go travelling again but I’m not sure how and where or even if I can afford it, but if I do go, then it definitely needs to be with a purpose – like a work or some volunteering. I don’t know. I think I’ll just let time decide…
January 26th 2011, aged 25:
…My day off work so went to look at houses in Canterbury with mum and dad… We drove the past the beach, lots of childhood memories… We discussed the houses over lunch. We all like different ones and are all quite emotional. I know that it will be nice living in Canterbury but I’m still scared. Everything is about to be shaken up, big time. Take me back to the old days, the familiar days, where I knew what I was doing. That said, I am getting quite sick of Watford. Maybe I need this change of scene…
And January 26th 2012, aged 26? – Well, I’ll put that here in another 16 years 🙂
Song of the Day: Mull Historical Society – How ‘Bout I Love You More
The unusually-titled Mull Historical Society is the name that Scottish singer-songwriter Colin MacIntyre usually performs under. His stuff is criminally under-rated, particularly here, south of the border. I have no idea why. In my mind, the guy is a musical genius and nothing represents that better than 2004 release ‘How ‘Bout I Love You More’.