Comment: All you need is life - and a decent diary

JUST BEEN out to buy my diary for 2000 - same sort of shape as last year's, with a plastic folder bit at the back where I can stick my address sheets. Saves me copying them out, worn and tatty though they have become, but haven't we all?

I have kept a diary since 1959. My wife mocks it; says it's not a diary, it's full of nothings, just a couple of words a day, such as Spurs 3 Man Utd 1 - that was a good day.

She keeps a proper diary, 500 words a day, but only every five years. And it's all on one topic: our children. She began it in 1973 so it covers almost all their little lives - ahh. She's not due to write another till 2003, but for 2000 she's going to keep a commonplace book, recording what she does, what she thinks, during the year. There must have been thousands of people who did that in 1900. I've looked all year, but failed to find one.

I started mine in order to do my expenses, filling in the names of people I'd interviewed. Forty years ago, let me see, I was using a Lewis's diary, so it says on the title page. I wonder if I bought it at John Lewis in Manchester, which is where I'd started the year on the Evening Chronicle, before coming to London on the Sunday Graphic. My phone number in Manchester was RUSholme 7570. Severely crossed out. My new number was GLAdstone 4788. Gosh, I was proud of having a London telephone number.

In this week in December 1959 I went to see Gregory Peck in On the Beach, interviewed Marty Wilde and the Vernon Girls, Alicia Markova, Lady Pakenham, David Nixon and Rinty Monaghan. Was he a boxer?

For 1960 I have a half-completed diary, the only time that's happened. I went to Stratford East to see a play, probably one of Joan Littlewood's, driving in my ancient Riley. It packed up and, in bending over the bonnet, I dropped my diary. I had to buy another one, half-way through the year.

Apart from that missing half-year, I therefore know exactly where I was and whom I met, every day for 40 years. Gold dust. Because memory does play little tricks. On the night of 14 June 1967, the Beatles performed "All You Need is Love" on the first satellite global TV thing. I was there with them in Abbey Road. It says so, in several Beatles reference books. Must be true. My diary for the day before records that I was with Mal and Nel, their two road managers. And the week later I had dinner at Paul's with Jane Asher. According to the diary. But the night of "All You Need is Love" is a blank, suggesting I was at home. I feel I was there. Yet I've got no proof.

I have had a few big fat desk diaries over the years, usually because some firm has given me a big fat one for free. For three years I had a BBC diary. Huge thing. What a mistake. Now, on the shelf where I keep my 40 years of life lined up, the BBC diaries stick out, ruining the symmetry.

Mostly they are small and thin, to fit easily into a pocket, which means the paper is small and thin, not to say cheap and nasty. Every year on 2 January, I vow to go upmarket when I see that my scribble for 1 Jan has come through the page. Very symbolic. For does not the imprint of one day dictate the next?

But far more annoying is Saturday and Sunday. For 40 years I have failed to find a diary that truly fits my life. Have a look at your own. Diary, I mean. I bet Saturday and Sunday are shorter than the rest, crammed into one space. So irritating for the millions of us who work at home and therefore treat every day the same, or give it the length we choose to give it, not what we are given. Also annoying for the public now that the nation's Sundays are action-packed.

Yesterday, I've had to write in the Spurs-Newcastle score in very, very small handwriting. I know I'll never be able to read it in the years to come. Perhaps that's just as well.

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'