THE MOORE THINGS CHANGE: Pepys, Frank and I
THIS THING CALLED MEMORY is fascinating. I’ve been having some fun with it recently. I’m thinking a certain thought, then, suddenly another idea comes in on top of that one, and the original thought is lost. I feel it slipping away and try to retrieve it, but can’t.
Sometimes, I accidentally recall it; other times it’s gone for good. Fortuitously, I had hit on a device these past 48 years which has now come to my rescue: my diary. I am a diarist.
My diary has been over all those years what a famous poet called “a repository of burden, a safe haven, an ever-constant friend”. It has also been my memory refresher.
I’ve always wanted to recall what happened to me and around me, yesterday, last month, last year; ten or 20 years ago today. It’s an extension of my memory – my most treasured possession.
The other day my wife called from work: “Baby, when was the last time we had the car serviced?” In a minute, I replied: “Wednesday, September 10, last year. We had 123 950km on the clock and replaced the CV joints.”
If you have a sense of history, you would wish to keep a diary, or more extensively, a journal. The diarist by definition is a chronicler of his or her time.
A diary was what 13-year-old Anne Frank turned to, as her world ended, locked in an attic from the Jew-hunting Nazis and feeling herself “different” from the family hiding with her. She named it Kitty.
It was what made Samuel Pepys famous beyond all his other accomplishments. Starting on New Year’s Day in 1660 he faithfully wrote down, in a shorthand code, a day-by-day account of everything he saw, felt or heard for the next nine years.
It was the longest, most personal account of life in the 17th century, and also an invaluable eyewitness account of some of the most seismic events in English history.
So what’s in my diaries? Not only events that affect my life from day to day but, the restless journalist in me makes me record and later reflect on happenings local, regional and international.