A number of Covid-19 centric diaries have made their way to us. Many use the word 'plague' in the title. All deal with the political and personal aspects of this 21st century pandemic. The most recent addition includes observations on day-to-day life. GDP 549. 6th June 2020 Historical Truth and Human Truth Fortunately for the majority of us living through historic times is mostly just a spectator sport; rather like standing at the back of the crowd and jumping occasionally to get a glimpse of what is really going on centre stage. Although we are bombarded with daily briefings, statistics, [...]
An incredible deposit has brought with it a large amount of beautifully illustrated menus and restaurant publicity material circa 1850. The restaurants are all London based and most are well-known. The diarist (GDP 548) dined out almost every week, if not twice a week. And - fortunately for us - firmly held the belief that no good meal should go unrecorded.
Published this month and edited by two esteemed archivists, Michael Moss and David Thomas, Archival Silences contains a chapter on diaries and silence by GDP's founding director: Polly North. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003003618-12/diaries-silence-polly-north. The chapter is a celebration of the diaries at the Great Diary Project at Bishopsgate Institute and of the rich ambiguities almost all diaries speak of.
18/03/1945 I have applied to the Red Cross to go overseas as a Welfare Officer in Military Hospitals. Flip met a woman in London about to go to India on this scheme, got details for me and after my usual deliberation and even ruling out the idea for fear of being away when David returns, I've now realised it maybe the very thing I want. I see it this way. a. Such an opportunity will never present itself again; b. I am entirely without ties; c. extremely fed up with and restless in my present job at the Town Hall [...]
31/12/1944 [After a few days with her boyfriend - and future husband - David - Lorelei writes] D's parting words more than could have hoped to hear I can hardly believe it’s true that he feels that way after meeting me again. I was so afraid I'd no chance with as he must have the choice of women. Sent him New year's greeting telegram at 1.56 am. How I wonder what 1945 holds! How long David will be away and whether that which I've lived 33 years for is really going to happen this year? If only David is kept [...]
‘[e]xperience is the only thing we share equally, and everyone senses this.’ (Amis, Martin, Experience, 6)
‘[w]e know perfectly well that life certainly isn’t a story, at least not in any simple […] sense, and we also know that a person isn’t a book’ (Eakin, How Our Lives Become Stories, 99)
Our lives with all their miracles and wonders are merely a discontinuous string of incidents – until we create the narrative that gives them meaning. (Arlene Goldbard)
Unwritten diaries...imagine... The diary of a newborn. The diary of an illiterate 16th century chamber maid. The diary of a Norman conquistador. The diary of a martyr. The diary of an 18th century pub landlord, candle stick maker, baker and so on. The diary of a 17th century New York landlord. And then there are the diaries not written by dedicated diarists: The self-reflective diary of the appointment diarist. The appointment diary of the allotment diarist. The nature diary of the fitness app. And so on. The stories are without end. And the vast array of life is breathtaking. [...]