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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, April 06, 2007

Memo to self

Having been reminded by my mother on Tuesday of the existence of a five-year diary I started to keep when I was a teenager, I remembered that I had continued the practice for a further two years after the initial five years were up.

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."

The Editor

4 Comments:

Blogger Mary said...

*takes a few moments to recover from fits of giggles*

While you have made some valid points, surely the writing of a private, pen and paper diary (as opposed to a public, online blog) is that it's NOT intended to be read, merely to be written?

In other words, it's for getting all the petulance, and obnoxiousness, and moaning about everyone else, out of your system in a safe way, that doesn't result in annoying your family and losing your friends?

I know when I kept an adolescent diary I only picked it up when I felt particularly hard-done-by or excited. The diary is long since ashes, but anyone who had read it would have got a very skewed vision of my mental state and personality in general.

11:54 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Yes, I suppose you're right. Perhaps I wasn't quite that bad.

Although I still can't imagine why I recorded every hairwash for two years...

The Editor

12:23 pm  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

I have stopped writing diaries ages ago, but I kept one since I was 14 until I started my studies and did not have the time any more. My mother, who otherwise is a nice person, is living under the assumption that within a family there are no secrets and that we share everything. Including diaries. That is why from the beginning I have written my diary in English. It certainly was written in a kind of Mone-English, only I was able to understand, but at least I could leave my diary more or less unattended, because my mother wasn't able to read it anyway.
I couldn't help laughing out loud when I read through your list of advice. I feel tempted to hand it out to some of our (female) students.

1:08 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

I've never understood why people are so insistent that one's school and college days are the happiest of one's life.

They weren't for me, and I'm fairly sure they aren't for a lot of people.

Nevertheless, I'm appalled at the way I behaved back then...

1:32 pm  

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