29. Dec, 2016


“To resolve or not to resolve,
That is the question.”

There are those who hold that the best New Year Resolution is not to make one either to give something up old or start something new


Of course resolutions can be made at any time of the year but as I have got older, so January 1st has become more significant- not least because I find myself still clinging onto the twig. Age aside, I still myself renewing the same three resolutions every year. Firstly to view life with amused tolerance, EXCEPT for the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…Famine, Sword, Fire and Pestilence; secondly to build bridges rather than walls and lastly to maintain my diary.
I have kept a training log since I was at school but at Christmas 1990, a relative gave me a diary as a present. I resolved to keep it day by day just for 1991 but here I am, 26 years later with a shelf full of them. The advantages? I cannot go all the way with Dorothy Parker…“If you keep a diary, one day it will keep you!“ However, while working I found such a written record essential for recalling where the bodies had been buried-much to the discomfort of a certain head teacher. During retirement it has prevented one day running into the next and just being forgotten. People of my age often ask, “where does the time go?” I know because I have recorded it. (I also gently point out that it is not time passing more quickly. It is us slowing down).

SAMUEL PEPYS (pronounced "Peeps")

So, what do I record? One of my heroes from the past is Samuel Pepys 1633-1703. A Cambridge graduate, he was to hold a series of important administrative roles in the navy of Charles II and James II. He kept his diary from 1660 until 1669 when he became frightened of going blind-he never did.

Speaking from his status as Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board, later as an MP and President of the Royal society 1684-86 he provides a lot of inside information on political events that shaped the nation. What I have always found fascinating though, are not just special events like the above nor his surviving an operation to have a bladder stone removed without anaesthetic (the surgeon probably had a clean knife); the Great Fire and Plague of London, and the Dutch Wars but his descriptions of everyday life…relations with wife Elizabeth and his servants, the condition of his bowels, burying his cheeses in his back garden as the Great Fire got underway, his knighted neighbour’s privy overflowing into his cellar, his food, drink, friends pastimes etc.

I have tried to record a similar content in my own diaries and looking over my volumes see that the whole gamut of life is there…deaths of one of our sons and of our parents; births of grandchildren and great grandchildren; worries over youngest son serving through the first Gulf War; my enforced early retirement through illness; Elizabeth’s needlecrafts; her two books being published, my 200m and 400m races; the Blackpool Marathon; City and Guilds Advanced Photography Certificate; our many and varied travels; illnesses, injuries and disabilities met and overcome; our Naturism; my writings; my boxing; our computing; new friends and the sad passing of old ones; books read, music listened to, films/TV/theatre seen; political highs and lows; building our Dolls Houses; home brewing…and so it goes on.


I have an old ragged Everyman edition of Pepys’s diaries that I have had since schooldays and it is such an old friend that I can’t bring myself to throw it out. However, I have supplemented it. On one of our travels I visited a book sale in Nantwich and there came across a modern illustrated copy. I remember sitting with Elizabeth in a Nantwich pub looking at the 1660 opening page and there opposite was a building begun in that very year. They brought past and present together for me…and is that not what a diary is?

Following on from the above, there is one slight revision I intend making to my website. I intend to photograph the places where Elizabeth and I find ourselves, day by day for a photo-diary. I would like to promise it would be a daily production but… I intend to use it to replace my Blighty collection of photographs-all of which are available on the internet anyway.

Meanwhile I have bought my 2017 diary and filled in the first page…name, address, next of kin etc., and as always wonder what it will contain by 31.12.2017.


This brings me to the main value of my diaries. We have had our share of tragedies but what they record and tell us is that we have overcome them by sticking to my mother’s two stoic precepts…
”Keep going and make the best of things!”

Thank you diaries for reminding us of that!