Dear Diary, says Debbie Bennett

One of my Facebook friends is sharing her childhood diary with us, with comments from an adult perspective on the life of a ten year old. It’s fascinating stuff. 

I started keeping a diary from the start of 1977, when I was almost 13 (my birthday is in January). I wrote pretty much daily until the end of 1985, by which time I’d left university and home and gone to work in my first job in London. Clearly real life was more exciting then as the entries tail off. My last entry was 1988 as I was about to get engaged to Andy – by husband now of over 30 years! 

So 6th April 2021. What was I doing on this day over the years of my childhood … 

1977 
Went to the cinema today and saw 101 Dalmatians, also saw Ride a Wild Pony. It was ace. The pony was called Taff and was a palomino.

I was 13 and in the typical teenage girl pony phase. I can't remember what age I started riding lessons but most of these years were spent obsessing about ponies, reading pony stories and desperately trying to win a pony in those WHSmith competitions. Did anyone know anyone who actually won a pony? What did they do -- deliver it and leave it on your drive with a user guide?

1978
Today we went to Liverpool. Bought cassette head cleaner, Star Wars book about house plants for mum and best of Morcambe & Wise.

Um, Yeah. makes no sense to me, either. Hence the importance of punctuation! Was this a house plant book and something Star Wars related? (I can't think what - I was never into collectibles). Or was their really a time when Star Wars had a connection with house plants in some strange alien way? It will remain a mystery, unless anyone else knows better ...


1979
Went to a disco with Lucy. There was this dead nice lad there. I fancy Lucy's brother.

Growing up a bit now! Lucy was a school friend who had a horse, so there is still the equine connection, but now I'm obviously looking at other aspects of Lucy's life, including her brother! We never did go out or meet up and I doubt he ever knew of my existence.

1980
Easter Sunday. Boring. Still there's Lucy's party on Saturday and also the Liverpool Chess Congress on Tuesday at which I am stewarding.

1979 - Proof! I came 3rd in the
Open Age - Deborah Louie
I was 16 by now. Having played in the Liverpool Chess Congress over the years (and won my group a few times too!), I then went on to volunteer as a steward. I can't think what possessed me to want to look after 16 primary-school-age kids, make sure their games got played, adjudicate where required and stop them killing each other. I played the Wirral Congress every year from secondary school and every year I shared the top 3 spaces with Gary from Calday Grange Grammar. Except for the year we were 18, when we went to the pub and lunchtime and lost spectacularly! And yes, I've watched The Queen's Gambit and yes, it was excellent.

1984
Friday. Started a new book based on an idea I had from a dream last night.

And the writing bug bites! I suspect this book is the handwritten hundred or so pages  still have somewhere in a folder. It's utter rubbish - but hey, I wrote it. Any novel written - however crappy - is better than no novel written at all.

And now I think about it some more - this wasn't the first book. I'm 20 here and I wrote my first novel aged 15. So I think this might have been the first incarnation of my YA fantasy which became Edge of Dreams. I would have been at home from uni in the Easter holidays of my 2nd year and I'd discovered fantasy in a big way. I was devouring the contents of the union library which was just full of all the fantasy classics - both old and modern - and I was into D&D and live-role playing too. It's only natural I'd start writing fantasy myself ...

There is literally nothing of any real interest on 6th April in any of my years spent diary-writing. Which is probably just as well on a public blog. To write this post, I dug out the actual books from a box in the back of my wardrobe and got engrossed in other posts which went into excruciating detail about my (lack of) love-life and how much I wanted a proper boyfriend. I don't know why I let the boys I knew treat me so badly. One of the blessings of getting older is when we stop trying to please other people and start being ourselves rather than who we think others want us to be. Maybe that's why I write? I know I started when there was just a few too many evenings at home with my family than I wanted to have - those evenings when I was convinced that all my friends were having a much better time/life than I was. In reality we were probably all as insecure as each other.

Comments

Jan Needle said…
Hallo Debbie, hallo world. To show you how grumoy and unnecessary Lockdown's making me I'll have to quote you this:

'Hence the importance of punctuation! Was this a house plant book and something Star Wars related? (I can't think what - I was never into collectibles). Or was their really a time when Star Wars had...'

I'm only jealous really. I taught my son to play chess when he was eight, and by the time he was nine he could beat me every time. And did, the swine. And at the time you were being smart and serious at Liverpool University, I was working for the Sun in the same city. Where did I go wrong?!
Peter Leyland said…
That's great Debbie. Boys wrote the same kind of diaries too you know except of course for the ponies! I see you had connections with my beloved home city of Liverpool and played chess there. It was probably in town - I lived in Aigburth. I remember keeping a diary about this girl I liked with one of those pens - a barrel of different closured inks...
Umberto Tosi said…
How wonderful that you have these pieces of authentic evidence of your life from so many years ago. Most of us can only guess at the authenticity of our memories from those ages and speculate what those snapshots mean. Sounds like you have the solid platform from a short story or memoirist novel there.
Debbie Bennett said…
@Jan - used to watch them filming Brookside around the campus when I was at Liverpool uni! And @Peter - I know Aigburth well as I lived up the top of Seffie Park and had friends on Lark Lane.

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