After enjoying BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour podcasts series about diaries in which they mentioned Diary Days - events in London where people read extracts from their teenage diaries / letters, reading The Guardian article and keeping my own diary since 1997 - I knew I had to go.
It is part of very attractive, very personable and sadly very straight organiser, Jordi Sinclair’s philosophy to take us away from staring at screens and into events about more shared experiences with people face to face. And I for one am totally on board with that. Jordi’s events company, Smudged Lipstick events has a series of events in London working to this theme.
Some peolpe let Jordi know in advance if they wanted to read. Some people stood up to read without telling him in advance. Some people sat and enjoyed it without reading. There was no obligation to read. There was a bottle of vodka and shot glasses for anyone who needed some Dutch courage before baring their soul to the audience under the bright lights.
Pictures are allowed, but filming is not allowed.
I sat back and revelled in the teenage angst, drama, OTT and variety of experiences from a woman sharing conversations in a Whatsapp group she shares with close friends and sisters, teenage diaries from the mid noughties, a woman who’d just started writing a diary since attending the Diary Days events and another woman who despite most of her diaries being in storage in America, she read early noughties extracts from her diary she’d emailed a friend not long ago.
I loved it.
Every over the top phrase.
Every shared laugh or ‘oh no’ as it rippled around the room.
Most people seemed to have come in couples or groups, so as someone on his own I was a bit unusual. No change there then! It would have been nice to have chatted to people before and after the readings, which is just as much my responsibility as anyone else’s. I had to rush off home after it had finished but next time I think I’ll stay for drinks, Nachos and chats.
I will definitely read from either my diaries or letters I wrote friends but in the meantime, here’s a few of my diary entries from the 4 July:
4 July 1997
Car service – Autotechnik.
8.30. New Forest Enterprise Park. £85 all inc. Rushington Business Park.
Shirley. See video in Chandler’s Ford.
This was within the first 3 months of my diary keeping. It’s in a Filofax which only gives a few lines of space per day. As you can see I’ve got a way to go before it becomes interesting.
Let’s see what happened on the same day a year later.
4 July 1998
PRIDE IN LONDON
9.30 Basingstoke group for lift to London.
Get up at 6.30 and walk dogs.
Arrive B’stoke 40mins later @ 8.50. Quite a few others go that I’d met at the group on Tuesday.
Camp Nick complains about my music taste. James cracks on to me till I tell him no. Steve and Andy celebrate their year anniversary – aahh.
Katherine has her banner. Arrive @ Hyde Park @ 11.00. Meet Evan and friends. The march (mince) starts @12.00. The feeling is great – cool solidarity and real Pride in being gay.
At the end I phone Mel and they say they’ve got to leave really soon (3.00). We go to Soho and look in Clone Zone. Absolutely packed. Sit in Covent Garden & Soho Square. Full of benders – great. Arrive B’stoke @7.30. Go with Nick to Sainsbury’s 4 tea. He drags me across Sainsbury’s 4 a pizza – v embarrassing. Everyone meets @ Nick’s place. Including Matt? Or Mike? - James’ work friend. We go to Reading Gay pub. Live entertainment quite cool.. Talk to Matt 4 whole night. He’s really cute and doesn’t look gay at all – lovely. He’s not out at all and admires my confidence. He hates “all this camp” however says I’m not too camp! Cool eh! Despite numerous interruptions from Nick and looks from Andy we talk all night. Leave @ 11.00. Drop x in B’stoke and get lost. Drop Matt off. Ask him 4 a drink – yes!! He fancies me. I’ll see him on Tuesday.
How things move on in a day! By this time I had a small page per day diary with 33 lines per page, allowing me much more room to write about what had happened, what I thought, and seemingly specify every time during the day preceded by @. I’d started going to Salisbury and Basingstoke youth groups by this point. I would cruise across Hants and Wilts in my little car with a core of friends meeting new ones. What happened to Matt? We dated for about 2 months until he dumped me and traded me in for a ‘cute young blond boyf John’ – who I met at the Christmas party of the youth group on 19 December. It’s like Dawson’s Creek in Hampshire, UK isn’t it?
If you like the sound of this, then my Best Friends Perfect series is semi-autobiographical story full of teenage angst, Pride parades, love, friendship, camp and nineties nostalgia.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx