Memo to self
Reasoning that I probably hadn't left those two diaries at the parental home on the grounds that I really wouldn't want them falling into the wrong hands, I searched my bookcases for them.
Which explains why, in a Tramadol-induced stupor (do the soporific side-effects wear off in time, by the way?), I spent most of yesterday immersed in 1984 and 1985.
Of recent years, I've been complimented more than once on the calibre of my written communication. Now, I don't know exactly when I developed any skill in writing, but I can confirm that there were no signs of it in my early twenties. None. At all. Neither do I appear to have had anything remotely resembling a sense of humour. (The closest I came to being funny in two whole years was to refer to Magnus Magnusson as "Magnet Magnetism". Frankly, that's really not very close to being funny.)
In fact, it's hard to imagine a more sanctimonious, morose and self-pitying young woman. Heaven knows how anyone put up with me. No wonder I was miserable - I couldn't get away from me.
With the benefit of being older and wiser by more than twenty years, I've compiled a list of advice which - had my younger self had access to it - might have resulted in a more interesting and pleasurable read.
- In twenty years' time, no-one will have the slightest interest in the fact that you washed your hair. Or had a bath. You are living in a foreign country, for heaven's sake: there simply must be something more interesting you could write about than your ablutions.
- Petulance is not an attractive character trait: you may want to work on that.
- The world does not revolve around you. Really.
- You might want to start taking other people's feelings into account occasionally.
- The fact that someone hasn't behaved in the way you would have liked them to do is not necessarily evidence of the fact that they hate you.
- It may seem unlikely now, but in twenty years' time you won't remember all the people you are writing about. Descriptions might help. Who is Surasudeen? Or LA John? Or the James with whom you regularly exchange letters?
- Problems can sometimes be resolved by negotiation. You really need to learn how to express your grievances calmly, and be willing to work out a solution. Tantrums are not the behaviour of an adult.
- No-one likes a smart-arse.
- If, once you discover to your horror that your older brother has been reading your diaries, you decide to write about your amorous encounters in Greek, write the whole damn entry in Greek. Your entry from Saturday, October 19th, 1985 is a prime example of how switching between the two languages is actually more titillating to someone who doesn't read Greek than an account which was wholly in English would have been:
"Had a good night's sleep finally, so felt a lot better. Got nearly 8 litres of milk from Nancy. G___ arrived at 8.30 while we were having breakfast and sat with us. Greekgreekgreekgreekgreekgreekgreekgreekgreekgreek and he spent the rest of the day apologising and trying to do it again."