Jan 1st Had party at home. Went to Grandad’s.
Jan 2nd LittleSis lost piece of spirograph. No. 42 ring. Made bed. Payed Coal Bill. Went to Town.
Jan 3rd Found ring 42. Lost magnet pencil of International Spy.
London at the height of the Swinging Sixties. Still whistling World Cup Willie, we hunker down for the winter before the Summer of Love. It’s all there in the heady entries of my 1967 Letts School-girls Diary; unearthed this morning from the loft as we haul up yet more of YoungLochinvar’s goods and chattels.
How about this for details of a happening weekend, squeezed between pictures of Peter O’Toole and Benjamin Britten?
Saturday Jan 14th Watched Val Doonigoon. Had Oxo.
Sunday Jan 15th Did not go to church.
We must have needed the quiet to get over the weekday excitement.
Tuesday Jan 17th Needlework. Country dancing. Brownies. Oxo.
I do like a nice diary. I suspect one of the attractions of teaching is that it gives two New Years in every twelve months. Two excuses for new stationery. Two chances to make resolutions.
My ’67 Diary peters out in March. However, the excitement starts all over again in ’69 with the “Princess Tina Diary” which is just bulging to the brim with good intentions.
January 1st has a list of “New Year Resalotutuions” which have been crossed out in red, presumably as they were broken: “be tidier; be more careful; wash my hair every week; have a bath every week; be kind, good, polite; aquire tact, save and be thrifty; always write in my diary.” The only resolution not crossed out is the last one – possibly because I’d stopped writing in my diary.
As if these resolutions were not quite comprehensive enough, I added more as the year went on.
Jan 17th Decided to be nicer and more ladylike and pretty.
Feb 28th I started making a mini-monopoly.
March 17th Started a Pop File.
March 19th I learnt shorthand.
April 5th Began a magic set.
April 17th I started to do typing exercises.
April 18th From now on I will write in Pig Latin.
April 22nd I am going to Australia in six years.
April 30th I became horse crazy.
May 19th Became a devoted Christian.
I managed to keep this diary going until June 16th with just the odd entry after that. On Sunday July 20th, I’ve noted in capital letters that ‘MAN LANDED ON THE MOON’. And a few days before that, I’ve devoted a whole day to noting ‘I altered my suspender’. It’s important to get these things in context.
If I wrote diaries between 1969 and 1995, they have gone the way of all flesh. Perhaps I was too busy performing magic tricks on horseback in Pig Latin for an Australian Sunday School. But there’s a five year diary which I kept sporadically from ’95 and I’ve just read through the New Year entries.
By then I was a teacher with an ActorLaddie, two children and a resident GrannieBorders. But the diary is as stuffed full of good intentions as when I was 11 ¾: keep on top of the planning, practise an instrument each day, keep a journal, keep my temper, bike to work. And, year after year after year, I resolve to publish a book.
Up until recently, the only Resolution I have managed to keep is the one I made in ’92, when I went vegetarian. My instruments remain unpractised, my planning is as makeshift as ever and I fear I’ll never get to grips with shorthand.
But two weeks ago, we had a re-enactment of that scene in Back to the Future, where George McFly opens a box of shiny new books. I published my first year of The Jelly Chronicles. I can see it on my shelf now – hey, I’ll take a photo for you – and just looking at it gives me such a buzz. It’s all vanity, of course, but it has 105 pages and I done it. All I needed was the kick of a diagnosis. Simples.
I’m going to try and hang onto that buzz as we plunge into a new term. Who knows what other resolutions might come to fruition in 2014?
May your New Year bring you closer to your dreams.
By the way, the people who published The Jelly Chronicles sell copies. The hard copies are a silly price but ebooks for the ipad (not PC or Android so far as I can see, boo hiss) are £2.99 plus VAT from the link below. Why anyone would want to do that when you can read the blog for free is another matter.