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I have a window in my schedule.

Time for a little calm reflection after 58-and-a-half years of seemingly frantic activity, 21 years of parenting and a very busy week.

Inspired by a dream last night I dug out a dusty box from at the back of a cupboard in my office and found these.

The box contains my diaries from 1970 to the late 1990’s. After that I started keeping a diary on computers.

These 27 books of varying size are all crammed to the covers with handwriting.

They don’t all relate to a specific calendar year, some periods are sparsely recorded in contrast to the occasional 20 or 30 pages describing one day.

Unlike the diaries of say, Tony Benn or Peter Ustinov, they are not full of wonderful anecdotes about famous or powerful people, revealing insights into our political history or anything resembling great literature.

Okay, there’s the odd reference to someone you may have heard of, but they are mostly miserable self-obsessed scribblings about how rubbish I am, how incapable I am of finding love, how I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever attempted to do, how poor I am, stressed, tired and forlorn.

Thankfully, every now and then, even I am surprised by the insights I had into my own personal politics, my hypocrisy, embarrassment and social awkwardness.

Some of that is quite poetic and brutally honest.

I knew then and I know now nothing in these diaries was ever written to be published if for no other reason than they would make very dull reading.

There are screeds of pages where I try and work out stories, where I have arguments with myself about what it is I’m trying to say and the best way to say it.

 There are half written plays, sketches and songs dating back to the late 1970’s,

There are rants about homophobia, racism, sexism and the brutality of the ever-growing corporate controlled globalized free-market economy.

So in a rather ungainly and self-obsessed fashion they do record how the world has changed in my lifetime.

It’s not all for the worse even though things seem fairly shitty at the moment.

The easiest thing to do, the lazy UKIP reaction is to trick yourself into imagining it was ‘better in the old days.’

As someone who was around in the old days, let me make one thing perfectly clear. It was shit in the old days.

It’s a teeny tiny bit better today than yesterday, and tomorrow will be fractionally, infinitesimally better than today.

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Reader Comments (7)

Thank you for sharing :-)
The reason I stopped writing a diary was because even I was getting fed up listening to me!
What's more I totally agree about the world in general - whether corporate greed or the same old human-nature that has existed for centuries. All we can do individually is try to improve things at the small level and hope for the cummulative effect. :-)

September 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNigel

I would crawl over broken glass with my fly unzipped to transcribe these!

September 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I have kept dairies on and off over the years. I threw away all the youthful, hand written ones 20 years ago because they were too depressing to read. I still have some electronic ones that I kept in the 2000s but as they are on floppy discs I cannot currently access them. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I suppose keeping a blog is a kind of diary but the fact that it is in the public domain forces me to make it a bit less personal. Also no bad thing.

Totally agree about the future being better than the past. I have always wondered when these 'good old days' that some people talk about actually happened.

September 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

To save the world from broken-glass injuries (and worse!) you can probably scan them using one of those flash Snapscan scanners which allow bulk page scanning. They use them to scan in books - cut off the spine then feed in the pages. Both sides scanned and sorted. Once done there must be handwriting recognition software ... unless your handwriting is as bad as mine! Then just keep the digital images.

Liz - I still have a USB floppy-disk drive made by Teac. They must still be obtainable from Ebay or similar.

September 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNigel

In the words of the occasionally great Neil Young:

Some things are getting better
Other things a little worse
It's a situation
Much like a curse

Doesn't quite have the same pull as the UKIP shrieking mind.

October 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPete Richardson

Robert, some recent developments in the world of gaming you may find interesting as a possible source of income. I would like to email you with the details.

October 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstubie

Robert, I was privileged enough to be in the crowd today @ Freescale during your talk on EVs.
You gave me reason to think again - I might just consider a plug buggy in the future....
So that's 1 more convert (potentially), and a fractional improvement for tomorrow......
Who writes this mince?..... if I had a diary I'd stick it in it along with some....ehhh...pressed flowers?

Cheers for your inspiring words and fear not, just because the bairns have left doesn't mean you're on the scrapheap ole son. Far from it.....

Adventure before Dementia

November 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDanny Basler

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