A couple of months ago, a friend very pointedly sent me a link to an event called Oh Dear Diary!, where people read from their teenage diaries in front of a room full of strangers. Now to most people, this sounds like something out of a recurring nightmare, and now I’ve put the thought into your head you’re likely to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, having dreamt that you’re on stage in your underpants telling your schoolmates how you secretly fancy your maths teacher. But to me, and a handful of other brave and crazy souls, it sounded like fun. I signed up to read, and dug out the dusty suitcase of diaries and photos that lurks under the bed in spare room.*
My first diary was written in 1986 when I was twelve years old, and I kept one pretty much consistently until I was eighteen. After that the gaps between entries got longer and longer, but I still occasionally write one now when the urge takes me. After some highly entertaining ‘research’, I decided to read from 1990/91, and focus on the all consuming crush I had on a boy called Chilli. It was huge, lasted for about four years, and it’s fair to say my feelings weren’t reciprocated. This entry from February 1990 sums it up:
“I’m totally pissed off, fucked off, bored and depressed at this precise moment in time. I still haven’t found out if Chilli would go out with me or not. Donna thinks he fancies me because 1) he tried putting his arm round me at a party last May, 2) he ran after me when I had cherry 7-up poured over me, and 3) he tapped my cheek with his hand in the pool hall one day. Great! Why aren’t I convinced?!”
As for reading them aloud, I wasn’t really nervous about it. A fair few wine fuelled evenings over the last twenty years have been spent reading excerpts to my friends, and they’ve always made us laugh. I’d somehow managed to convince myself that I wouldn’t know anyone there other than the friends I was taking along for moral support, both of whom were implicated in the diaries I was reading from anyway. I should have had a hint that this might not be the case when I had to send photos for the slide show to a guy called Pete, and realised I knew him through my work.
We rocked up on the night (and I mean rocked – we’d polished off two bottles of wine between us and it wasn’t even dark. This constitutes a hard-core drinking session when you’re over forty), and I was ushered into the green room, where I realised that I knew two of the other readers. And when I wobbled into the bar in search of a glass of water, I bumped into one of my trustees from work. So not as anonymous as I’d hoped, but hey ho, in for a penny and all that. An hour later I was up on stage with a microphone, telling a room full of people about the cringesome (and sometimes illegal) exploits of sixteen year old me. I set the scene with a few photos from Nutter’s 18th birthday party, and one that illustrated the sheer, unimagineable volume of our hair:
Fortunately, I don’t take myself anywhere near as seriously as I did when I was sixteen, so sharing my innermost thoughts turned out to a fun thing to do. I was overcome by giggles more than once, and got a round of applause when I read the bit where I’d finally snogged Chilli. So go on, dig out your diaries and share them with the world. Maybe in another twenty years I’ll be ready to share my recent diaries – or then again, maybe not.
* Note to the executors of my last will and testament – in the event of my untimely death, find that suitcase and burn them! BURN THEM ALL!!!!!