Thursday, 5 August 2010

Diary Dilema

One of my favourite photographs of mum and dad, they look so relaxed and happy.
After posting about mum's diary in June, I had a bit of a dilemma. I suddenly felt as though I was being a little intrusive.....I think that's the word I'm looking for. It was while H and I were browsing through ephemera on the Antique Market soon after. We picked up some really old post cards. H said she felt as though they were private and we shouldn't be reading them. That they weren't meant for us, but for someone else.

When you think about it, postcards are even less private than someone's diary. You know that the postman might read them. I always write mine with that in mind. I suppose we should write little notes for the person in the sorting office, or the postman....maybe just say hello to them, thank them for the good job they're doing. For getting up early for us and wearing out their feet. After H said that, I couldn't bring myself to share any more of mum's diary entries, probably because mum was writing about someone else, that wasn't dad. I think I have to work this one out, because it's not fair to leave things in limbo for you.

But today would have been mum and dad's wedding anniversary and so I had to peek inside the 1950 one again. August the 5th was a Saturday. Her comments were simple, she just wrote, "Les starts holiday." Then underlined "Get married." There were absolutely no more entries in her diary after that day and that's the last of her diaries. Except really recent ones that had dentist appointments, little reminders to herself, bits of shopping lists and notes to phone one of us.

Their wedding was post-war and things were still difficult to come by. Mum made a full skirted suit for herself with a fitted jacket. It was made from a parachute, I'm sure that she said it was silk and she had it dyed dark brown. Mum unlike me had very dark hair and really deep brown eyes and loved brown and blue. She also made her hat. She was an amazing seamstress although she'd never trained. She probably learnt at school and was taught by her mother who was also a really good dressmaker. Dad had a new jacket and trousers that look like they drowned him, he's really smart. He looks so young, too young to be getting married. They married in a registry office and had the reception at my maternal grandparent's house. The days before mum had spent preparing. These are her entries for the week before, they were always brief because she had tiny diaries but they suddenly became very domestic and practical. and it was just a very simple family wedding.

1 August "Bath-room"
2 August "Do front room out well today"
3 August "Do living room out well. Finish off bathroom today or tomorrow"
4 August "Spend today shopping food, flowers etc. Prepare table in front room."

On the previous page I spotted 25th July "Just 12 months ago today since I first met Les.

I had to look back into her 1949 diary and there it was July 24th 1949 "Went to club, (that was 18plus) everyone gone to Blackely except Eric, Vera & new fellow Les, had jolly evening talking all walked home together. "

I think they'd be happy for me to tell you about their romance they had one of the happiest marriages I've ever known. A few arguments on the way but they always remained in-love all their lives....I'll sort out about the other ones later...obviously they weren't true love....but they do say that you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince...... I wish I had dad's diaries too........


  1. Isn't it interesting how we all feel differently about artefacts from the past especially those related to people we actually know? As a curator, I work with other people's private papers everyday - letters, diaries and other documents and I must say that I sometimes do think about the fact that they were not written for me.

    Going through Mum's things recently I found some letters to her from a friend she knew when she was young. They lost touch over the years but by a twist of fate our paths have recently crossed professionally. After reading the letters to try and gain some insight into Mum as a young women I decided to return them to her friend. She was quite chuffed and laughed at her wildly melodramatic younger self.

    Maybe it's just thinking about our parents as individuals before they met that we have trouble with? I hope that's not the case as I would really hope that my kids realise I was an interesting, valid, fully-rounded human being before I met my 'other half'! What do you think?

  2. You know what I find amazing. The simplicity of the statements about what was done. If I was to write in my diary the "done" list it would look manic. Oh, how I long for simpler, slower times, some days. Today is one of those days.

  3. Thanks Caz, for your lovely long comment. It's certainly food for thought. I will respond properly but have lots of visitors coming today for the weekend. I want to take time to answer properly.

  4. Katie, I hope that you get some peace and calm this weekend. Simplicity is something we keep trying to achieve too. I know what you mean about the lists. It would be amazing to have a whole day to do just one job, we seem to cram so much into one day and end up with lists of lists!