Monday, 20 February 2012

Frank Pepys

Before I begin this blog entry about diaries, a quick mention of my favourite bit in the diary of Samuel Pepys, that mad bastard who, according to Wiki, went on to become a Tory MP for Harwich. You learn something new every day, don't you? Here's Pepys talking about an incident which his unfortunate wife managed to walk in on:

"For my wife, coming up suddenly, did find me imbracing the girl con my hand sub su coats; and endeed, I was with my main in her cunny."

Dirty bastard.

Anyway. The other night I was talking to a friend in a chat room thing she had set up when we were gatecrashed by a 12 year old from southern California. Being the charitable type that I am, I asked my friend to kick him out but she refused, so "Oliver" stayed for a little while. During the course of the conversation, I began thinking about words of advice for the young man - things I could tell him based on my own experiences, trials and tribulations that I've encountered along the road to reaching "adulthood". After giving him a few nuggets of wisdom, I suddenly thought about something else - my diary. I kept a diary, years ago - where was it? What did it say inside? Did I still have it?

So whilst the others chatted, I hunted around my room for the diary, eventually finding it in the storage space at the end of my bed which is crammed full of old board games and jigsaws and various other assorted junk. Making myself comfortable, I sat down in my chair and began to read. Here's what I found:

First thought (based on title page) - The first page is very interesting. Under "Book Title" I've put 'Diary of 2002', which gives me a sense of context. I was 15, living in a post 9/11 world, at secondary school hurtling my way towards GCSEs whilst obsessed by a girl. Further down the page, it gives me the chance to list "Important telephone numbers", "Important e-mail addresses" and "Important web site addresses". Looking at it, I realise with a jolt that I can still remember the home phone numbers of my friends Rich and Ivan from that time, and other people's e-mail addresses. For the websites, I have put:


I am stunned/delighted to see that Kazaa is still going.

Second thought (upon reading my diary) - God I was staggeringly boring.

Because I was. Flicking through this diary, my whole life seemed to revolve around football, and eating curry. OK, that last bit hasn't changed, but this diary has made me realise that whilst I still love football and it's the greatest sport in the world, I don't spend hours of my time obsessing over it any more. As a 15 year old Manchester United seemed to dominate my life (though I don't include their website in that list shown above, interestingly) and it's all I seem to care about:

March 29th 2002: Good Friday and boring. We're playing Leeds tomorrow so we better win!!"

That's it.

April 6th 2002: United won today 1-0. Ole Gunnar scored. A good result but a shame that Arsenal also won 2-1. Brighton about to win Division Two which is cool. Back to school on Wednesday!

And that's it. On and on it goes, horrifically boring stuff that makes me want to think back and recall whether I had ANY interests or hobbies around the time. Thank God I've changed, in that respect.

Third thought - The diary runs from March 2002 - June 2002, and then there's nothing until April 2003 where I wrote three entries before giving it up for good. Here's the very first entry:

March 10th 2002: Mothers Day. Woke up late and was soon packed off to Manchester to see little Joseph. Karen and Mike were a little late to arrive but both did look well. Joseph a typical screaming baby!

I can't remember my cousin Joseph being a baby, interestingly. Sorry, I interrupted...

But is very cute. Car journey on way back seemed to take ages but I still enjoyed my day. Came home to over-excited dog - quelle surprise!!

The dog we had put down last Friday.

Is St Patricks Day next Sunday. Monday in the morning - d'oh! More school. At least I'll see my friends and Alice again.

Ah yes. Now there's a name that certainly conjures up memories of teenage love. Crushing disappointment, glorious happiness, despair and futility, anger and resentment, clarity and hope - and everything else in between that goes on inside as the teenage hormones go into overdrive. I was going to go out with Alice, and then we'd get married and have children and live together FOREVER without ever having a cross word and that was that - end of story - and nobody was ever going to convince me otherwise. Ten years on, I have no idea where she is, what she does, who she's with - and quite frankly I don't care.

May 4th 2002: Boring day again I'm afraid. Arsenal won the Cup final, and I had pizza for tea. Haven't spoken to Alice for ages and ages...still, at least I see her in PE :)

Once a perve, always a perve, but fuck it, I'm a bloke.

I'm not going to go through much more in here because the entry above illustrated the rest of it perfectly - Football. Alice. Junk food. That's it. Even the final three entries, a year on, aren't much better:

April 26th 2003: Bolton 2-2 Arsenal, with Ljungberg, Lauren and Cygan all going off injured. A major day! If we beat Spurs tomorrow we go further in front at the to.....

You get the idea. Maybe it's all about the context. My best friend at school was an Arsenal fan, and I'm United, and at the time those two teams (alliteration) had a serious rivalry going. In summary, it's all your fault Bergman.

June 5th 2002: Completed about 40 games of Solitaire today. Actually, scrap that last sentence. It was Freecell I played.

And I've read enough.

Final thoughts - A decade later, I'm still the same person, in the same family, in the same house, with the same friends, yet so much has changed. I don't recognise the person in that diary, really. Oh, I remember some things in it very well, but I can't place myself in those shoes any more. As stupendously boring as most of it is - and trust me, it is - I also found it fascinating because it made me realise how much I've changed.

So here's the idea. March 2002 was the first entry, and next month it'll be March 2012. It seems to me a little weird that I was reminded of the diary out of the blue the other night, a mere month away from its 10 year anniversary, and now I've got that in my mind I can't shake it. So, next month I'll write something in it - a few lines every night, just like I did a decade ago - and whilst I'm doing so I'll reflect on all the differences I'm seeing as I write a 25 year old's perspective compared to a 15 year old's.

Once March is done and dusted, I'll shove the diary back in the storage space and forget about it all over again until March 2022 comes rolling around. Fingers crossed I'll still be here to see it.

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