I was slightly surprised to discover recently that there are some people out there who don’t know what an academic diary is. To me, that seemed strange, because for many years my life was recorded between the pages of one.
In case there is anyone out there who still doesn’t know what I am talking about, an academic diary is one which runs from around the 1st August until the 31st July of the following year, thus mirroring the school year in most parts of the northern hemisphere.
With four children at school, it was only natural that my parents should revert to using one in an effort to keep track of us. It also made sense because Dad, as an academic, was not only working to broadly the same term times as us, but also had access to the diaries.
Everything, but everything, went into the diaries. Birthdays (even our own), anniversaries, school holidays, Mum’s babysitting commitments, Dad’s drama group rehearsals, everything. If you were going somewhere, it went into the diary. If someone was visiting us, it went into the diary.
It wasn’t as if Mum was likely to forget anything. She has a phenomenal memory, so good that, on occasion, it has been known to remember things that didn’t actually happen. But the diary was an essential part of our routine and remained so, even after I had left home.
Mum and Dad kept the diaries for many years, long after each one’s life was over. They sat, in their multicoloured glory (each year’s was a different colour) on a bookcase upstairs. And then, one day, they were gone, disposed of in one of Mum’s ‘We can’t keep this stuff forever’ purges. I can understand that, but in a way I wish that we still had them. It would make writing some parts of this diary a bit simpler, that’s for sure.