On my new favourite TV programme BBC Breakfast, (the one where they invite the finest people in the land to come and talk shizzle), this morning they were talking about childhood diaries.
The mighty Dame Jacqueline Wilson was on telling us how good it is for young people to write whatever they want without needing anyone to click if they ‘like’ it. A diary should be a totally private world where you can write about who you love and who you hate and what you care about.
Wilson agreed that whilst they can be terribly embarrassing to look back on, they also offer a kind of portal into your childhood mind, transporting you back to a time when you cared passionately about something one day and then easily cast it aside the next.
Of my own childhood diaries, only one has survived. It spans a year from November 1984 to October 1985 when I was 11 years old and, it transpires, an absolute WHORE…
The only thing I cared passionately about was BOYS. ALL OF THEM. EVERY BOY IN THE VILLAGE:
Tuesday 6th November 1984 – I chucked Grant today. I said I didn’t think it would work between us. I’m now going out with Lloyd AGAIN!!! I love him so much! Tomorrow I’m going to watch him play football after school.
Wednesday 7th November – Didn’t go to watch match. Going off Lloyd.
Sunday 11th November – Today I chucked Lloyd. I’m going out with Stig!!! He’s really nice even though he’s small. I really LOVE Stig!
Friday 16th November – I HATE STIG. Just because I’m taller than him he refused to smooch with me or be seen with me at the school disco. I’m chucking him. I might go back out with Lloyd.
Monday 19th November – I’m going out with Chris! I snogged him SEVEN TIMES at the Tarzan swing!!! Bloody ‘ell! Tonight was one of the best nights of my life.
Four boys in fourteen days! I was the original Katie Price. By May 1985, it was all about Adrian:
28th May – I ADORE Adrian but he HATES me. He’s one year older than me and told me that I am the bottom of his list of girls he wants to go out with. He can’t stop talking about Trudi who I HATE.
Wednesday 5th June – I’m going out with…LLOYD! Yes, don’t ask me why but I am. I adore him. Him and I aren’t shy anymore so he will put his arm around me whenever he wants. There’s a disco this Friday from 7.30-10.30 but Mum won’t let me stay that long. Lloyd said that he has always loved me from the bottom of his heart!!!
Aside from all this fickle slutting, what truly shocks me is that considering everything that was going on with my mum, I make almost no reference to her apart from one entry in June 1985:
THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE. 1) Mum shouldn’t drink alcohol but she’s drunk again. I’m worried she could die. 2) Lloyd chucked me. 3) Trudie hates me. GOOD BIT: Steffan fancies me!
And another in September:
HELP!! I’ve just gone to look in Mum’s drawers because I can’t trust her. I can smell alcohol on her and last night she woke me up to tell me the woman on the front of the Sunday Times magazine was talking to her!!!! I found a massive bottle of sherry in there and two glasses full of it which I spilled. She’ll kill herself. Well frankly, I couldn’t give a shit. I hate her just now. I’m gonna ask Damien out tomorrow.
You think maybe, in the absence of a sober, loving mother, I was looking for love and affection from boys??? You think? Or were you all similarly obsessed at eleven years old?
Mum kept diaries throughout her life. The surviving journals begin in 1962 when she was 13/14 years old and at school. They end when she did, in the summer of 1989, aged 41. They are an amazing chronicle of her life and of life in Britain during those years. They are also almost entirely fictional to me; her versions of events being so far from my own memories. But they form a big part of my book about her. And I do love how I can almost still hear her voice behind the pen…
Ah, the book. It is coming along. Jacqueline Wilson says writing a diary encourages fluency and a good writing habit. So at least all that porny-boysy-obsessy stuff was good for something, right?