My Madder Fatter Diary Vol.2 by Rae Earl

Image result for My Madder Fatter diaryYou may already know that I loved Rae’s story of 1989 published as My Mad Fat Diary. It was amusing, nostalgic, moving, thought provoking and candid. A teenage diary at its very best!

I was really looking forward to finding out what happened next to Rae, Mort, Haddock, Battered Sausage, Dobber and the rest. It’s 1990 and Rae is due to sit her A-Levels, and potentially go to university, so it covers an important coming of age period.

I wasn’t at all disappointed. This second volume is even better than the first. In the introduction we get to find out that it was edited a lot and also some parts were re-written to ensure that they made sense. I wasn’t sure about this, was it going to mean that some of the story was lost or that we wouldn’t get the personal detail? I honestly don’t think it did anything but improve it.

She’s still battling with her weight, her head and the unrequited love of Haddock and there are still some great one liners and pop culture references in there:

28.2.80
Who IS Ben Liebrand? He’s remixing everything to shit.

28.3.90
Silk Cut died today. Fair fish never last long. In fact my sugar dummy has lasted longer – which is a bloody miracle. I’m so pissed off.

20.10.90
Status Quo – please fuck off with your Anniversary Waltz. You should not be celebrating. This is now a Saturday night in Stamford. Shouting at Quo. Perhaps leaving university was the wrong thing to do.

30.4.91
Just asked mum if I’ve ever been more mad than David Icke. She just got cross and said, “Rachael – forget about David Icke and move on”

This book covers 1st January 1990 to 6th October 1991 so you get a good chunk of the start of Rae’s adult life. As with all diaries it just ends but thankfully we do get some of our questions answered in an epilogue, except who Haddock is in real life.

If you love diaries and nosing about in the minds of strangers then I cannot recommend this and it’s predecessor enough – you’ll be left feeling like these guys were your mates and that you were there. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

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It’s really captured people’s hearts and that is a wonderful thing – Meeting Bronagh McAtasney

Bronagh 2This week we’re meeting Bronagh McAtasney from Newry in Northern Ireland. For the last five years she’s been sharing the diary she kept in 1981 via the Twitter account @NrnIrnGirl1981.

Tell us how you got to a place where you wanted to share your diaries.
The Twitter account was just a fun thought I had after my sister found my old diary from 1981. We read through it and laughed at all the drama and old memories. I thought it would be something interesting to share in some way. I had noticed other diary accounts and it seemed like such a good way to share a diary in those little daily chunks. The 140 character limit is ideal for editing thoughts down to a concise form. I’ve had to edit the entries down quite a bit but I enjoy picking what I think makes for the best reading.

What made you start keeping a diary?
The diary from 1981 is the only one I kept for a year. I got the actual diary for Christmas 1980. It’s really small – a pocket diary with a page a day on that lovely, almost transparent paper you find in prayer books. I recorded everything in it. The Twitter entries are really such a small part of each day’s writing. And I kept it religiously for that year, only tiring a bit around November.

What was your life like at the time?
I was 13 when I started. And I suppose I was “lucky” in a way that it happened to be a tumultuous time in Northern Ireland. I had journalistic aspirations too so I recorded all kinds of news events. Northern Ireland was a dangerous place then, and my home town of Newry was one of the most volatile places to live. Something seemed to happen almost every day and the biggest event was the IRA Hunger Strikes of that year. Like most children in Northern Ireland, I wasn’t directly affected by the Troubles but I lived with it daily and thought little of it. In hindsight, it was a crazy place to live but then, it was just our lives.

Like many of us, you religiously wrote the chart down each week. What made you start doing this? 
At 13, I was just getting into music. I was a huge fan of Madness and one day in Dublin, I found a “Pop Diary” in a shop. During my teenage years, I had quite bad OCD and lists and organising information was one of my compulsions. This leant itself perfectly to that and I started to record the Top 20. Like everyone else, I taped the charts but I then scribbled the chart listings down and copied them into my book.

You had an elaborate review system didn’t you?
There was a rating column so I had to think of a way to do that and the star system was perfect. My ratings were one to four stars although I varied it a bit with Madness getting dozens and anything heavy metal getting a minus rating!

When my little pop diary ran out of space, I drew up my own and kept them for another six years. Then my brother kept them for a bit longer after that.

The ratings always get the most comments. It’s so funny how upset people still get over Black Lace getting four stars when some classic or another only got two, but that was how I felt at the time and I love that it generates some fun conversations on Twitter. Music is so evocative of a time and place that people are immediately transported back to then and hearing those memories gives me a lot of pleasure.

Chart

How did you feel when you first began to read the diaries in adulthood?
I loved it. I was right back to there in an instant. They were funny and over-dramatic but I knew that they really captured me at the time. I never pitied myself although I did cringe quite a few times!

What approach have you taken to sharing your diaries?
Initially I just read each day and chose what I thought worked. As I went on, some narratives did appear (Valentine’s Day, the Hunger Strikes), so I transcribed everything and was then able to edit what I put in. The greatest challenge has been what to leave out and how to get it into 140 characters. I have overflowed into two or three tweets but only a couple of times, when the day’s events really needed to be shared as entirely as possible.

How did it feel when you first let someone else read your diaries?
I was fine about sharing. Although I know it’s me, it still feels like a different person and because I knew the “ending” was fine, I didn’t fret about it.

What kind of reception have you had?
The reception has been unreal! I can’t believe it. For some reason, it has really captured people’s hearts and that is a wonderful thing. For me, the best part has been hearing other stories, sharing diary entries and reliving memories that are so common to all of us no matter where we live. And people are so often most captured by the tiny details such as a type of clothing or the stories of teenage “romance”. I really love that.

I’ve done loads of things and met some amazing people thanks to the diary. I’ve spoken at lots of events, was the guest speaker at my school’s A Level Prizegiving. I’ve been awarded grants, worked with the BBC, spoke to a class in Belgium. All kinds of great opportunities that I could never have imagined when I started this.

What do you think your diaries mean to those who read them?
It means different things to different people. Academics want to talk about the historical events, music people love the charts. People comment on every aspect and I still chat to someone every day about whatever has come up recently. It’s just been incredible and at times very moving.

Anything you haven’t felt brave enough to share?
No. The only thing I do is use initials for people. I’m very aware that other people did not ask to be included in this and deserve their privacy. That said, I’ve had old friends contact me when they recognise themselves and others remonstrating with me because they didn’t make it in!

Do you have any favourite entries you want to highlight?
So many! The entire Valentine’s Day saga is hilarious. I love the entries about me and my siblings – we fought and played as all do and they’re very touching now. I’ve really just repeated the diary on a loop for five years now and every time I think I should stop, someone new finds it and we have a little chat about something. So even the most boring entry – which I think it was important to have – evokes something for me or someone else.

What do you think of yourself when you look back at what you wrote?
Oh I cringe a lot! I was so dramatic – every illness meant imminent death, I would NEVER have a boyfriend! But I like 13 year old me still.

If you could return to 1981 and give your 13-year-old self any advice, what would it be?
I would definitely tell myself to keep more diaries! And that everything would be OK and even that there would be peace in Northern Ireland which I remember being something I thought we would never have.

I’ve published my diary in full in book form – is this something you would consider?
I’ve thought about this and talked myself in and out of it. I worry that because it doesn’t have a nice tidy arc, it wouldn’t read well. I was approached by publishers who wanted me to rewrite the story and add things that didn’t happen such as meeting Madness, but that didn’t sit well with me as I worried it would undermine the authenticity of the diary.

I would love to do something with it though. I am talking to a theatre group about it being a play which would be fun but really I think it would be great on radio – that would be brilliant.

Bronagh 1

Paul Simper – Pop Stars in My Pantry

Image result for pop stars in my pantryI’ll admit I’m pushing the definition of my own blog site by including this as a diary as it’s blatantly not. It’s a memoir of Paul’s time working as a music journalist in the eighties, book ended by how he got there in late seventies and what happened afterwards in the early 90’s.

I’m including it though as Paul includes some amusing snippets from the diaries he kept as a kid and refers to them throughout the book, surely as a reference point to prompt his drug and alcohol addled memory.

Image result for paul simperSo let’s be clear, this is not a day by day account of his life at that time, instead it is an amusing and revealing account of what he got up to with his mates at No.1 magazine, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet and stars of the London club scene.

I loved No.1, a poor relation to Smash Hits never the less, but it was out every week and therefore could cover pop that was on the fringes of the charts as well as its superstars.

I hoped we were going to get some insights into how the magazine worked, how features were created and cover stars selected, who decided which posters it would have and how some of the free gift ideas were dreamt up. There was some of this but not enough to satisfy my inner geek.

What there was a lot of was detail of Paul’s incredible social life, his drunken exploits and the types of jobs he was given as a journalist. My favourite parts were how he enjoyed the New York club scene and the music style that was coming from there; his friendship with Bananarama’s Siobhan Fahey-supplement Jacquie O’Sullivan and her interesting dalliance with a ‘Neighbours’ star and being pals with George Michael.

Paul has had a fabulous life and it’s great that he’s shared his excesses with us here. Any discerning fan of pop music of the eighties will enjoy this read. You should definitely get to know something you didn’t already and you’ll be amused along the way.

I do wonder if there are some diaries though, and what they may include and whether there could be some salacious detail in there which would make for an even more lively and revealing read?

Let’s party like it’s 1985!

Book 1985 (Actual)I thought about waiting for Black Friday but I can’t wait, I’m far too impatient, so the full version of my 1985 Diary is out now!!

It’s been independently published which means I can do just what I like with it and don’t have to edit it under someone else’s instruction. It’s been a labour of love and a “right laugh” adding in the illustrations and thinking how best to present it. I’ve even created my own author’s page on Amazon – which feels like one of the most bizarre things I could do – me? On Amazon? Seriously? Hilarious!

It’s all just for fun, I’m only doing this for the laughs and because I love it. I love it that I’ve turned my diaries into books that are now preserved; I love it that the diaries and the pre-teen-me make other people laugh; love it that it brings back happy memories for people and most of all I love it that others share their past and their diaries as well. It’s mega! So thank you to Paul, Sarah, Bronagh and Tess – love you guys!

Book 1984 (Actual)I’m on with 1986 now so that I can continue with the tweets and hopefully this time next year publish that too. I kept much more “memorabilia” from that year including my own x-rated hand-written version of “Forever”… All good things to those who wait!

I know some people like something that little bit special so if you’re in the UK you can order a dedicated and signed copy of 1985 via the link
PayPal.Me/JamieDays/8 and 1984 via PayPal.Me/JamieDays/7. If you’re not in the UK let me know and I’ll sort out what the delivery cost would be and send you a link.

In the mean time, here’s a photo…

IMG_20171003_0001
This is what a selfie looked like in 1984 when taken with a 110 camera.

 

I got all hot and flustered! – Meeting Tess Simpson

TessTess Simpson (who is most definitely not a twat) has been aggressively writing ‘BYE!’ at the end of the day since 1995. She’s also been sharing what she wrote back then in her brilliant blog If Destroyed Still True. Here she tells us about how all that came about as well as what it all means to her.

 

You’ve been blogging your diaries since April 2014, how did you get to a place where you wanted to share your diaries with the world? I first started thinking about it during the Somerset Levels winter flooding in 2013-14. I wondered what possessions I’d be most upset to lose in a flood or a fire and realised I’d be very sad if didn’t have my diaries. They’re so full of little memories (often in minute detail and sometimes with diagrams!) that I’d never remember if I hadn’t written them down. For example, I would never have remembered what the house of my first crush looked like from 2 different angles.

Me at about 12 or 13

How old were you when you started keeping a diary and what made you start? I was 12. My friend Hayley gave me a little diary as an early 13th birthday present in 1995 and I wrote in it the next night to record how shattered I was after my early birthday sleepover. It got a little bit more interesting than that as time went on once boys had entered my radar.

 

What was your life like at the time? I lived in a very safe village with my very stable family, hence my diary worryings were about extremely minor things like who I’d have to sit next to on the bus and why a boy might have smiled at me. I spent a lot of time outside on my bike with my sister and friend Emma, which gave us plenty of time and space to plot mild stalking missions away from nosy parents.

How many years did you write your diaries for and how difficult was it to keep them going for that long? I haven’t stopped writing diaries. It’s not been a difficult thing to keep up because it’s become a habit. There are days when I can’t be bothered or I don’t have time but when something is worth remembering or is worrying me then I reach for a pen and my diary without really thinking about it. I’ll still mull things over when I’m trying to sleep but writing it down definitely helps. It’s therapeutic to rant somewhere that no-one will read it… until I put it on the internet 20 years later.

How long do you think you will keep blogging them for? IDST was only supposed to be my teenage diaries but I hadn’t thought this far ahead and I’m now 17 diary-wise. I don’t know what to do when I hit my 20s diaries. I intend to keep typing them up somewhere because I want to preserve them for myself but I don’t know if adult diaries are quite the same as teen ones. Although I was still utterly cringe-worthy as a 20-something and probably am as a 30-something.

Me at about 15

How did you feel when you first began to read the diaries in adulthood? Ugh. I couldn’t cope! They made me laugh but want to hide. I’d read a few lines then have to look away or retreat cringing into my jumper. I also flitted between feeling glad and horrified that I had everything I did written down depending on the entry I was reading.

What kind of challenges have you faced along the way? In true diary style, I shall give this answer as a list.
– People I went to school with finding out when I accidentally posted a link to an IDST post on my personal Facebook page. That set me off worrying about what I’d said about people and what the hell they’d think about it.
– As of the other week, I found out one of the boys I wrote waaay too much about has been reading it. I’ve not cringed that much in a very long time!
– Blog and reality crossing paths and losing complete anonymity when I was asked to read my diary on stage. Live reading was NEVER something I thought I’d do but I agreed after half a jug of sangria and then couldn’t back out.

How did it feel when you first let someone else read your diaries? I didn’t really expect anyone to read IDST but when they did and someone actually commented, I got all hot and flustered! They were never meant to be read by anyone until I was long dead. It’s a warts (spots) and all account of growing up in the 90s/00s, thinking you’ve got all the biggest worries in the world, like not being allowed to stay up late to watch Pride and Prejudice, having 50 million spots and probably never getting a boyfriend.

What kind of reception have you had and how does that make you feel? Really good (so far). Surprisingly good! Most people can recognise themselves in bits of it, I suppose. Everyone was horribly embarrassing as a teenager, it’s just that not everyone has the hard evidence to prove it. The reception has been a relief. I was really worried (and still am) that people would think I’m a twat.

What do you think your diaries mean to those who read them? I’ve been told that people relate to them and, even though the situations were different, the feelings, worrying, over-analysis and reactions are all very familiar. Everyone felt self-conscious about something, everyone fancied someone that didn’t fancy them back, everyone had to snog someone for the first time.

How do the people who you wrote about feel about your blog? I don’t really know who knows about it or who reads it amongst people that actually know me. My sister and my friend Cat who both kept diaries at the same time (sometimes about the same things) find it funny and cringe-worthy in equal measure. The school friends that I’m still in touch with find it amusing as it reminds them of things they’d completely forgotten about. My first boyfriend is still coming to terms with it I think, after discovering it by chance and mentioning it to his workmates without thinking that he’d, of course, feature sooner or later. In detail.

Anything you haven’t felt brave enough to share? Not yet! The only bits I’ve left out are a few lines here and there that were too personal about other people and would be upsetting to them. I’ve changed everyone’s names and local places too. Thankfully I went through my diaries before I went to university with a big, black marker pen and redacted anything… er… graphic just in case my family found them while I was away. I reckon if I hold it up to the light I could still make out what it says though.

Do you have any favourite entries you want to highlight? I quite enjoy/cringe horribly at the ones with diagrams or drawings of people. The ones that spring to mind are The Full Monty school assembly one (that seems really dodgy now!) in which I not only listed the boys in order of fitness but also drew them. My friend Cat and I were also thrilled/horrified to discover that we had diary entries about the same party and the Cat-based MAJOR GOSSIP that ensued.

Barn owlWhat do you think of yourself when you look back at what you wrote? I actually think I’ve not really changed that much as my brain still works overtime worrying unnecessarily. I’m not as spotty and stalker-y but I do still really love owls.

If you could return to the late nineties and give yourself any advice, what would it be? STOP WORRYING! Also, stick a bet on Man United winning the treble in 1999.

Finally, I’ve published my diary in full in book form – is this something you would consider? This is the first time I’ve thought about it. I’m not sure I would. At least with IDST I could delete the lot if I one day regretted sharing everything with the world!

BYE