A haven for diaries

What pleasure to open a daily newspaper to two pages devoted only to writing and reading! Especially in times when less and less space is spared for such ‘archaic’ occupations. The Cape Times‘ book page(s) appear(s) every Friday. Yesterday, a full spread was filled with reviews, book marks, information about upcoming literary events, and a heart-warming article by Katie Grant about The Great Diary Project.

I began keeping a diary in 1989. The first one was a Mickey Mouse journal with a lock. I got it from one of my Dad’s (he used to be a coach) cyclists and his girlfriend for my 12th birthday. There was also a matching fountain pen which my brother still feels sorry about accidently destroying a few years later. I started the diary on 29 January, a day after my birthday, and wrote about the party, the cake my Mom baked (the entry includes a surprisingly accurate sketch of the leftovers), and a line about how strange it was to be a twelve-year-old girl.

Since then I have filled many other diaries, all of which I have with me in my study in Cape Town. I read some of the entries today and can’t stop smiling and blushing – that kiss on a park bench near my high school, that longing and the confusion, that first break-up with all the door slamming and high drama, or all that sand in my hair after a night on the beach with R and my Mom’s loaded silence when I slipped back into our guesthouse room in the early morning hours – it’s all there, not necessarily only in words, somehow dormant and forgotten, and yet immediately brought back to life the moment I begin reading… The smell of the Baltic Sea during that rainy summer. I would never have been able to remember most of it. But the diaries hold all my former selves and remind me why I still feel that Wednesdays are special, why I love getting handwritten letters, why that particular shade of blue, or why chocolate flavour.

To think what treasures the collection of The Great Diary Project holds…

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