As far as I know, I only have one Pony Club Diary in my possession, so I apologise for the slightly misleading title of the post, and also to anyone who thought this would be written in the style of Jilly Cooper.
I haven't ever belonged to the Pony Club, although I grew up in a village where I'm sure some people did, and I don't know how I came to own one of their diaries, complete with horse care hints and tips. I can only surmise that someone in the family gave me this one as a joke, because of my long-standing aspiration to go pony-trekking during family holidays instead of playing golf or at least following my parents round golf courses morning, noon and night.
I had forgotten about the diary until I inadvertently unearthed it the other day while moving some board game boxes about in a vain attempt to make room for my new printer. This storehouse of memories was in a bag of odds and ends that I vaguely remember collecting when we were clearing out my mother's house, now over ten years ago.
I had also forgotten that the year of the Pony Club Diary was one of the few years in which I actually recorded something meaningful every single day of the year. And what a year it was! Not only did I see the Beatles live ('ears ringing, voice gone... FAB!!!'), but I also went to Germany twice, saw Willy Brandt speak in Berlin and gazed over the Berlin Wall into the no-man's-land beyond, imagining what it would be like to live in a divided city within a divided country.
I went to the island of Tiree on a school trip in the spring, and can still remember wearing all my clothes in bed there because it was freezing, and in the summer I somehow passed all my exams and got into university despite playing tennis about five times a week through the spring and summer, sometimes playing in a match on Saturday morning and then going to a coaching session in the afternoon. I wish I had a fraction of that energy now.
Oddly enough, one of the things I remember best in the midst of this whirlwind of activity was that the whole family stayed up until after 4 am on the night of the election at which Harold Wilson got into power for the first time. I certainly don;t have the stamina to do this kind of thing now. The best I can do is to wake up in the night and look at Twitter on my tablet, which in some recent cases has resulted in my being unable to go back to sleep due to stunned disbelief.
Some of the contents of the diary were more baffling than others. I can't recall any particular incident that would have made me resolve to be 'less vain' or 'more intellectual' the following year. And parts of it are almost illegible because I wrote in a very small space with a very thick pen.
My first reaction as a writer, on browsing through the entries for the weeks and months, was that I could convert it into a memoir of some kind (perish the thought!).
My second reaction, as a parent, was a sense of guilt about not giving my children as exciting a childhood (or young adulthood) as I had experienced myself. No facing men with machine-guns across the Berlin Wall for them! But no Beatles concerts either, sadly. And where on earth did I go wrong in the case of sport? You would think someone who apparently played tennis in every spare waking moment as a teenager, and who had parents who more or less lived on the golf course, might have done a better job of interesting her children in some kind of physical activity that didn't involve a joystick. Only of course, there are more things competing for people's attention these days.
I wonder how many young people write their innermost thoughts in a diary now. Perhaps most people don't use diaries any more, but just post all the ideas that cross their mind on social media instead. But perhaps that's just as well - some of these things are really only meant to be ephemeral and not to be dredged up years later and looked at through the prism of hindsight.