Wednesday, 18 January 2012


I spend a lot of time finding things other than those I’m looking for.  So it was that, yesterday afternoon, I discovered that from 1959 to 1962, I had kept a diary.  I’d pretty much forgotten this.  It came about, I now remembered, because late in 1958, my father, who could be quite inscrutable, casually handed me one, with the words “Thought you might want one of these”.  It was a palm-sized week-to-view, published, I found, by The General Electric Co. Ltd. Of England, obviously a free handout at his work.  Each day’s space was about three inches by one. 

I must have been fairly suggestible and literal-minded, because I immediately concluded that I should use this gift to record my day-to-day life, rather than to note forthcoming events and appointments, which was probably my father’s intent.  It obviously didn’t occur to me that perhaps a larger format might have been more appropriate for this purpose.  I just started writing things down, within each day’s little box, as they happened.  There was no room for reflection or introspection, except in the sparsest form. 

Well, you can guess how I spent my afternoon yesterday.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to quote extensively – that will have to wait for when my archives are donated to the nation after my passing.  Nor am I going to draw any profound life lessons from the contents, except, perhaps, to note that I seemingly found it difficult to distinguish one girl from another on a weekly basis (apart from two or three, who seem to recur at varying intervals over the whole four years).
Oh, all right.  At random [there is a ‘notes’ box at the end of each week]:
Sunday 13 March 1960: Read morn.  Rolled lawn, 5/-.  Group practice after at Tony’s.  Not much good.  Vic didn’t turn up.  La Fiesta [local coffee bar] eve.  Saw Bobbie.  Walk with her.  Cliffs.  Wow!  Back to La F then home.
NOTES: I think I’ll go out with her.
And, by contrast:
‘Wednesday 4 October 1961: Did nothing all day and eve.’
But here’s the important bit.  After I went to University in Leeds in 1960, I began to go to the pictures quite frequently.  There was a fleapit across the road from the digs in Harehills, and students could get in cheap to the city centre cinemas in the afternoon (ninepence, I think).  And I tended to note the films I saw in the diary.  This isn’t by any means the full list, but I think it’s quite interesting.

The Greengage Summer
Taste of Fear
The Guns of Navarone
East of Eden
La Dolce Vita
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Innocents
A Kind of Loving
Last Year at Marienbad
West Side Story
Fall of the House of Usher
The Alamo 

By the way, can you spot the odd one out?


  1. If you spaced the diary quotes out on the page they'd be a bit like beat poetry. It must be quite exciting to come across such an insight into your earlier self.

    And I think we need to hear a bit more about Eve.

  2. There is a wealth of meaning in that 'Wow!" surely. Unless it was the first time you had seen cliffs.

  3. Eve Nin, Rog, a distant relative of Anais. I can say no more.

    AQ - L'Avventura? Perche, per favore? The right answer (mine at any rate) is East of Eden, because it's the only one not on first release at the time.

    Z - I saw my first cliff at the age of about six months.