Like lots of things, I have ruminated on writing a diary. for a long time.
Around 40 years by my last calculation.
As a young teen, I kept one that was red that had a key , but it lasted a matter of weeks.
I lost the key, and had to slice the piece of plastic that linked the front and back boards together with a blunt carving knife behind my mother’s back.
It flapped open after that point and seemed to spill my secrets out every time I picked it up.
I threw it in a box of discarded memorabilia at the bottom of my wardrobe and covered it with clothes that I was too lazy to put on hangers.
The thought of writing longhand really filled me with dread after that.
My head and hand worked at different paces and I could never get the words down fast enough on the page which frustrated me.
Moreover, I could never read what I had written due to my appalling handwriting, which in many ways seemed to defeat the idea.
Blogging has changed all that.
I believe a am one of an a legion of readers who enjoy reading diaries and memoirs for leisure.
In fact, I can’t remember reading a novel for a long time.
I love to read about real things, and real people.
I squeezed a novel in recently as our monthly book club was looming large and I didn’t want to be the only kid in the class who hadn’t done her homework.
In truth I enjoyed the book immensely – it was the first of the Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter – Last Train To Woodstock.
Even this however had a “real life” context for me as our second home is in Oxfordshire, and I found I love to relate literary context to real life experience.
So yes, I guess I am a realist, which is why I love to read and write about real things.
Anyway, back to the diary…
14th July 2014.
This is a good day to start writing a diary.
It is a national holiday in France, known as Bastille Day in English.
It is a time where friends and family come together, share a meal and a few bottles of wine, and let off a few fireworks at a time I have usually been asleep in bed for some while.
It is a good time to be in France.
I am not in France.
I am in Oxfordshire, and the 7.22 has just sped past our flat window carrying Nick, my husband to work in London.
I feel that already all my Francophile readership has tailed away muttering about this being a complete waste of their reading time.
I can’t say I blame them.
I am spending a week here in our second home as I like to be with my husband as much as I can.
Actually being here helps keep the carnage down in the flat.
Nick doesn’t understand the concept of housework. Or Ironing. Or cooking. Or putting things back where they belong in their rightful place.
“Rightful place” to Nick signifies the table and floor space next to his second-hand Ikea armchair.
He really does put everything he owns down in that one small space.
Most of it anyway.
He also has a spill over deposit area on the window sill next to his side of the bed.
That’s pretty crammed too.
Keen to prove his domesticity, he uses a Sainsbury’s Bag For Life for his dirty washing.
He keeps that by the side of the bed and not by his armchair, which, after more than a quarter of a century of living together, I see as a definite step in the right direction.
Things are looking up on the housework front.
When he met me last Friday at Reading train station, he seemed a tad dishevelled and tired.
He informed he had worked from home (true) and that he’d had to fit in the housework around his work (very untrue).
We shall, reader, overlook the fact that he’d had around 20 days prior to last Friday to “do” the housework.
In truth he tried to make sure a first visual experience for me entering the flat would not incite divorce, and to be fair, he did do that.
But, despite the efforts he made, it meant that I spent the next 2 hours cleaning up before I deigned to sit down.
But, that was then, and this is now.
Bastille Day will have to come and go without me this year.
It is the first year in the last ten that I have been away from France on this special day.
In truth though, it is a special day if you are French in my book.
Taking part in another nation’s festivities is great fun and I have done so for many years.
It’s just not the same.
We try to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on 5th November each year, depending on if we have managed to source some fireworks for the event.
Mugs of home-made soup, hot dogs, baked potatoes and burgers around a huge fire with a straw man atop wearing a pair of faded Levi 501’s, a straw hat, and a lilac fleece given to you by a distant aunt is where it’s at for me, and brings out your inner child.
It makes for hard explaining to the neighbours though, especially when you have invited a few of them over, and they walk through the garden gate to see you eating outside in freezing temperatures, with a pagan effigy burning in the far corner of the garden.
It does get a bit tricky too when you start explaining that the dude on the bonfire wearing the said lilac fleece in fact represents a Catholic being burned by Protestants…….it’s just easier not to invite them round really, as they end up thinking you are stranger than they ever thought you were.
I would add however that we are very sporting about all the guillotine business and knitting….
But that was 8 months ago, and a diary is about today.
I should close by saying that I have started to write this very early in the morning, so the 14th July has not yet really happened in the true sense of the word.
I am guessing by this, that the polished diarist would write up their day at the end of it and not at the beginning.
This diary business is going to take some getting used to……..