‘[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. [...]
Many of our diarists, old and new, are chronicling the times we find ourselves in. Their contributions to The Great Diary Project range from shopping lists and bog roll to health concerns and Whitehall response. Their contributions are multidimensional and active. The diaries and dated notes we have received recently are incredibly important social, and in years to come, historical documents (as, indeed, are all our diaries, whatever conditions they were written under). We have reflection from diarists on what the virus, and its fall-out, means at all levels of human experience: including the personal, the interpersonal, the social, the [...]
The desire to provide some sort of framework to our lives in the dated word will be strong this Christmas. Who of you will be keeping a diary? Or gratitude journal? Or CBT journal? Or chronicling the day on Facebook/Facetime/ or Whatsapp?
Ms Griffiths GDP 253 notes the approach of Christmas, and Hitler. Ms Griffiths' personal reflections attest to the individuals that make up the weight of history; the individuals living beyond the history books and the newspaper headlines.
Diaries can be a place to reflect on the profounder moments in our more-than-less pedestrian lives: they are a celebration of the extraordinary in the ordinary. For example, GDP 429, 1971 is Mr Mahoney’s tale of a true-love lost, as Bill remembers Doug. Alongside these poignant memories, runs Bill’s attention to the daily domestic duties which make up the meat of his diary entries.
Christmas has the knack of giving perennial diary-ticks a seasonal boost. The first Christmas offering includes two diaries, both of which illustrate the desire to account for, list, and organize elements of our lives. Diaries are a place to keep account, of one’s life and of Christmas presents: as Ms France and Ms Randall GDP 296/ GDP 391 attest.
Christmas is a good time for the diary. It pops up as a go-to stocking filler. It offers an ‘ear’ to the reveller/ scrooge in need of letting-off steam/ chronicling happy times (Anonymous GDP 452, 1978). In addition to the diary’s roles as gift, memory-bank and ‘sympathetic ear’, a diary comes into its own as the Christmas-minded assess a year gone and wonder about the next. Watch this space for more Diary-like presents.