A friend and I had a wander around a book shop this afternoon when we stopped at the diaries that were on display. My friend picked one up and flicked through it, declaring that she’d never be dedicated enough to fill it in every day. Talk then turned to the diaries we used to keep when we were teenagers and the sort of things that we used to write in them. Yes, it was the usual teenage girl stuff, though by the sounds of it, hers sounded more angst-ridden than mine. It wasn’t that I had an idyllic life – I just chose to gloss over the not-so-great stuff!
But the conversation reminded me just how much I used to be into keeping a diary. There were some years where I was very good and managed to fill it in almost every day. Then there were years when there’d be nothing written after March! but I definitely had an addiction to diaries, and it was what I looked forward to at the end of every year. Even though I tended to buy myself diaries, I think there were a few years where I knew that one of the beautifully-wrapped gifts under the tree contained a book in which I would later write all my inner-most thoughts, courtesy of one of my friends who knew about my diary addiction. And one year I actually bought myself two diaries because I couldn’t choose between them – how’s that for an addiction?
Today, I’m not sure that people keep diaries the way they used to. I used to manage a stationary shop and I’ve lost count of the number of organizer inserts and diaries that we had to reduce to almost nothing in order to get them out of the shop once we reached March. A lot of these would eventually end up getting binned. It’s hardly surprising – modern technology has made it so that we don’t need book-style diaries anymore. Our mobile phones perform all these kinds of functions and more making it unnecessary for us to buy a book to scribble down reminders and our thoughts. It’s a real shame because to me, using your mobile phone – as practical and convenient as it may be – it’s just not the same. I find it so impersonal. There’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper, and holding an actual book in your hand. I may be super old-fashioned but… you like what you like!
Why did I like diaries so much? Well, I liked the idea of having something to record my thoughts. I also knew that it was something that us girls did. I don’t recall ever having one with a lock (although I did want one!) but I didn’t wrap a hundred hair bands around it either – I kind of figured that that wasn’t going to stop anyone from breaking and entering! I also really liked the ‘extras’ that came with the diary. These were the additional pages that contained interesting and useful information. Some of the diaries I bought were typically aimed at girls, so there was information on diet, beauty, fashion, socialising etc. A diary for girls that I bought in the early ’90s by Letts, even contained weird and wonderful real life stories as well as self-defence tips. I loved it!
I also think that at the time I harboured ambitions about being the next Pepys. However when I look back, I really don’t think that there’s anything in them that would have made people want to read them five hundred years later. I remember at school, during a life skills class, one of my classmates revealed that although she kept a diary and wrote in it every day, she would throw it out once the year was over as she didn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding and reading them. I thought that was a terrible shame; after all in years to come it’ll serve as a reminder of your youth.
Fast forward many years, and I think I may, just may have one diary lurking around somewhere. So I probably did the same as my classmate did and chucked them out. Or they somehow got lost. Within the last decade, I’ve probably received just a couple of diaries as gifts. I certainly don’t buy them for myself any more. And when I do have a diary, I’m more likely to jot down appointments and other reminders rather than pour out my heart and soul into it!
Apart from the Letts Girls Diary, I had two other favourites. One looked more like a Filofax, the must-have accessory from the decade I remember too well – the 1980s. As well as space to record your thoughts, there was also a school planner, recipes, all kinds of useful information, and stickers which could be used throughout the diary. It was very brightly coloured and interesting.
The second diary that I had was the fabulous Dinky Diary. This came out, I believe, at the end of the eighties, although I didn’t buy mine until the early nineties and it really was a craze among teenage girls. Dinky Diaries, which were made by an Australian company, were very brightly coloured and were available in hot pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple and possibly red. They were more like organizers than basic diaries. I remember mine being purple while my sister nabbed the hot pink one. It was like a fold out book with a thick, hardback magnet cover that opened up into 3 sections: one for notes, one for addresses and a journal. It was and we felt very grown-up as we carried this diary around with us as though we had an exorbitant amount of information to either jot down or be reminded of. I went to an all-girls school so it went without saying that just about every pupil had one, and they would often adorn our desks. Why they were never confiscated I don’t know as I’m sure we spent more time fussing around with them than we did paying attention to the teacher. I don’t think that Dinky Diaries or anything that closely resembles them are available any more which is such a shame because more than two decades on, I’m sure there’s a new generation of young girls who’d love them just as much as we did.
I was probably in my early twenties when I stopped using a diary. I’m not completely sure of the reason why. I don’t think I could be bothered to write in it at the end of every day – the adult world leaves you very little time for such pursuits. However, writing this post has made me think about keeping a diary again. I’m sure it won’t amount to me doing anything more than jotting down appointments and reminders, but if I find one for 2015 that I think is interesting, not overly business-like and unashamedly girly, I could be tempted…