There’s nothing like the optimism of a new year. And there’s no more wholesome (and organised) way to celebrate than with a new appointments’ diary. Entering the year’s birthdays and holidays, work commitments and weekends-off always brings me hope. Already there are things to look forward to; a rugby weekend in Cardiff, a holiday with old friends and Belladrum (Nile Rodgers – eek!). It’s also reassuring to see that I’ve got work commitments as far away as November.
I’m quite particular about the diary I choose. It has to be special because I’ll have it with me every day. Over the years I have settled on a hardback number from Moleskine, with a lined page each week for notes. This year’s version is sapphire blue. It will look good with the others when I add it to the shelf this time next year. Yes, I’m afraid that aesthetic really is important.
I know it’s hopelessly old-fashioned to keep a paper diary, especially when an electronic version that will synch with my laptop and emails is available on my phone, but it suits me. It does mean I have to source Tippex though, (not always easy!) because plans have a habit of changing. Sometimes I resort to using sticky white labels when a day gets particularly messy. A stapler for adding extra notes and booking confirmations (I like these on paper too) is also handy.
It’s an organisational representation of my life
My diary is an organisational representation of my life. Gym classes are in there alongside lunches with friends, column and magazine deadlines, work meetings, hair appointments and reminders to pay my tax bill, insure the car and prune the plum tree. The films and theatre shows I see go in there too, plus nights out, and in, with friends and family. But as well as keeping me in the right place at the right time, my diaries serve as a wonderful record of the things I’ve done, the friends I’ve seen and the changes – imperceptible at the time, but obvious as I look back, that the years have brought.
I started keeping a diary as a kid. In my stocking from Santa one year was a padded five year diary, with a tantalisingly tiny lock and key, and five tiny lines to write in each day. Writing this became my religion. It wasn’t just the record keeping; as the years went on it was lovely to look back at what I’d been doing that day in previous years. Facebook now offer that same service with their daily ‘Memories’. I was way ahead of the game.
…boyfriends and crushes…
As a teenager my diary writing changed; I would pilfer lined jotters from the stationery cupboard in the French department (it was the only one I found that was kept unlocked) and write for hours – not every night, just when the fancy took me – mainly about boyfriends and crushes. I remember being startlingly honest in these diaries; so much so that I occasionally get a little flutter of panic when I remember about them. I rashly left them ‘hidden’ in a box in my wardrobe when I left home.
When our family house was sold, everything left behind was disposed of. I have no idea what happened to my diaries, and I don’t dare ask if anyone ever found and read them. I’d give anything to have them back. To have that insight into the agonies and obsessions of my own teenage mind might have helped me to be a better parent when our own two were that age.
‘To Mumy. I love you’
There are several lean years in the chronicles of my life (mainly thanks to a now defunct Palm Pilot) but they pick up again in 2002 with the first of my ‘week to view’ diaries. Opening the 2003 one at random just now, a piece of paper fluttered out, tucked into the pages for the third week in June. Addressed to Daughter #2 it hopes she enjoyed her afternoon at Primary School. They looked forward to welcoming her in August to start Primary 1. In August there’s a pink post-it note which, in purple felt pen, reads ‘To Mumy. I love you. Love from Caitlin xxx’. She had just started Primary 3. These two pieces of paper melt my heart.
It can be painful to look back. Sometimes it’s futile, as the past can’t be changed. But to have 52 new weeks’ worth of pristine pages to look forward to filling, is a gift for the present that I hope to look back on with fondness, in the future.
You can keep your electronic efficiency. I won’t be swapping my old paper diaries for anything. However you choose to record your 2020, I hope it’s full of promise.
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