Thursday, August 20, 2009

Total and utter waste of ink

From February 1984- when I was 12- I was a committed, fastidious and obsessive keeper of a diary. I would have died for my little red & white book; it meant everything to me and despite the fact that I lived with a family who respected privacy I squirrelled it carefully away, paranoid that someone was going to read through it and find out my deepest dark secrets. The fact of the matter was that no one, even my older brother was in the slightest bit interested.
I kept diaries on and off till I was about 20, when between college, work, the pub and drunken stupors there was simply not time to write. The little red & white book, it's covers hanging off from over-use was, along with it's army of successors tossed unceremoniously into a dusty old box where it sat untouched for a decade and a half.

Now, we all know that youth is wasted on the young and all that but I was pretty sure that i was quite aware and profound as a teenager, so it was with riducolus excitement that I unearthed the box of diaries from my mother's attic last time we were visiting the UK and brought them back to Canada with me. Though I was aching at the thought of reading through these detailed accounts of the eighties and early nineties, I waited until my good friend N, a partner in crime since high-school was visiting and together we lugged our heavy bags to the pub and ordered a bottle of wine.

Shit! What on earth was I expecting? The first year, when I was twelve was really not a lot more than lists of boys that I fancied with the occasional reference to friends, parties and summer holidays. The second year started promisingly with a (rather lame) list of new years resolutions......followed by, more detailed lists of boys that I fancied, more detailed accounts of parties and summer holidays. N on the other hand was reading out profound and wise (and I'm sure she'd say somewhat dramatic) letters she'd composed to herself in the future, deep insights into family relationships and....err....lists of boys she fancied. Year three was more of the same with a major slant on alcohol. This had been an interesting year. My parents seperated, I was selecting what subjects to take at school (that would determine perahps my whole future)my dad met my future step-mum, we moved house and I had a long trip to Canada (we lived in the UK) just after my mum's dad passed away. But none of this made it into my diary apart from a cursury half page to Grandaddy- no, I was too busy detailing what outfit I wore to a party (complete with diagram), who was standing where during a chat with a boy at the bus stop and endless records of dialogue about absoutely nothing. I managed to list exactly what alcohol we drank, where it was aquired and which number bus we caught to town at what stinking time, but no mention of divorce, new step-mum or anything else of any worth. Sigh.

Now that I'm over the disappointment it occurs to me that I made a huge assumption that my life was so acutely happening that I wouldn't need accounts of the big stuff because I'd never forget it. There's some truth in that- I haven't forgotten that my parents divorced, remarried and moved from one place to another. I haven't forgotten what subjects I did at high-school or any of the other major occurances, but it would have been nice to read about something a little higher in quality than who snogged who at church youth club. But like I said, I'm over the disappointment and now I can appreciate these books for their true idiocies. They are a true, if boring account of what it's like inside the one-track mind of a teenager and even though there are pages that make me turn fire-engine red, the sheer hilariousness of the total and utter waste of ink never fails to reduce me to tears.


  1. 'N' says: I think it's time we did the letter swap. I'll bring yours, you bring mine. Might need more than one bottle of wine to get through them all though.

  2. Hee. Clearly we were writing the same nonsense. I kept diaries from age 13 to 20-something and while I thought I was writing meaningful thoughts they are from my current perspective pretty much tripe. Still, they reflected my life at the time. Don't discount those moments, they were yours, trifling as they may seem now.