When lives collide Kenneth Williams & Ingrid Jo Boissevain

To me, one of the things that’s most fascinating with diaries, is the different perspectives they may bring on specific events. Here are two versions of Saturday 25th November 1967 when Kenneth Williams appeared on the Simon Dee show

From his diaries: “To Lime Grove for the Simon Dee show. I babbled on talking rubbish and came away suicidal. Simon gave me this print of the television transmission. It’s the bit where he held my hand & said ‘Honestly I just like looking at you’. He has the most fantastic self possession.”

From Ingrid Jo Boissevain’s Diary of a Posh Schoolgirl: “There was a pretty hilarious man on ‘Dee Time’ called Kenneth Williams or something. He kept going “ooh, duckie” in that gorgeous way that Pam does! It seems to be catching on. Everybody does it nowadays – even the chap in Rumbelows.”

Kenneth W

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…

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


Theft By Finding (3)

“In the UK, if you discover something of value and keep it, that’s theft by finding.”

[see the extract below from the Introduction of David Sedaris’ Theft By Finding]

If you’ve ever done it, you’ll know that it’s an interesting conundrum you’re faced with when you decide to publish your diaries. They’re your diaries but a lot of their content isn’t about you.

How will other people feel about your versions of their history becoming available for public consumption? As I’m not in the business of upsetting people, or creating problems for them, I made the choice to check this out with those whose pasts were linked to mine.

Now considering what I initially published began in 1983, people weren’t that easy to get hold of. Facebook and other social media sites helped but I couldn’t find everyone. Those I did find, upon hearing what I was planning to do, came back with responses that ranged from utter delight that I was reminding them of halcyon days, to mild bewilderment that I would want to do such a thing. Overall people were really positive, even though some of them thought I may have been cruel about them as they, in their words, weren’t “that popular at school”. Some people, with mild levels of notoriety in local circles, understandably preferred anonymity but there was one response in particular had me thinking.

To paraphrase, they said that whilst they valued my friendship they respectfully requested that any events from their past not be used in any shape or form.

But whose events were they? I wrote them, so were they my versions of their events, or my events that they happened to be in? I didn’t know what to do. I felt this particular person had been a key part of my growing up. Someone I remember with huge affection, someone who I wouldn’t want to leave out.

I was also keen to remain as faithful and as true as I could to what I wrote about what had happened and the way I originally wrote it.

I thought really hard about how I would approach it, and how I could be sensitive to what they’d asked of me, and wanted to let them know this.  However my thoughtful, reassuring response couldn’t be delivered as the contact methods through social media were cut off…

So I did what I thought was morally right under the circumstances.

So if you’re out there old friend, the events I’ve shared in the pages of the diaries contain the influence of your lively, giddy, caring spirit, but not you. And I hope that’s OK.

My 1984 Diary is available now, 1985 will be published this autumn, and 1986 in 2018.


Posthumous publishing on Front Row

During Radio 4’s Front Row on 7th August John Wilson discussed the publishing of Margaret Forster’s diaries with her husband of 55 years Hunter Davies. Margaret died in 2016 and left a stash of writing in the attic. This included unpublished manuscripts along with diaries she had kept since 1973. She described these as domestic diaries, about the children and their ways, and as such they were never read by anyone as the subject matter wasn’t considered interesting.

However Hunter discovered they included details on the people she met, the books she was working on and her career as a Booker Prize judge and member of the Arts Council. There were also three school girl diaries she kept when she was 10, 14 and 16; the latter is being published in time for Christmas.

Asked whether she would want the diaries published if she were alive, Hunter believes not, “she was very private, [but] she never destroyed them, so she must have known they [would be] found. She also now and again talks about social history and she now and again has a remark in one of them about “why am I doing this diary?” Is it because somebody in the future will be like me, wanting to know about ordinary lives?”

John also asked Hunter about his motivation for doing it, “Margaret did lots of biographies, I’ve done biographies of people like Wordsworth and Wainwright, and I could never have written them without the letters and the diaries left by these people, or written about them. It’s absolutely vital to have these kept and retained and edited and then published. [They’re] an insight into the post war literary years and I actually think they’re entertaining and amusing and funny. In her books she was very serious but in her real life she was very funny.”

The discussion included insight from Virginia Nicholson, the grandniece of Virginia Woolf whose diaries were initially posthumously published by her husband in a volume that related to her writing. “It is within the capacity of most living writers to decide I don’t want that stuff published and burn it.”

On the ethics of making the private public without the consent of the writer, Hunter concluded, “Unless people destroy their diaries and letters they’re left to the world.”

You can listen again to the full conversation on the Radio 4 website by clicking the link:

Front Row

Theft by Finding (2)

Last February half term my wife had been out with the kids on a walk for a couple of hours. When they came back home and opened the front door, the kitchen door slammed as if it were caught in a breeze. Her first thought was that a window had been left open.

She stood staring at the smashed conservatory window wondering how it had happened. Had a branch blown into it some how, had it just shattered of its own accord? That had once happened to my brothers shower door after all.

Then my son came downstairs. His Xbox and laptop were missing. Then she noticed the up-tip in some of the rooms. We’d been burgled.

It’s cruel and heartbreaking that your home can be violated by strangers without conscious or care. However I do think we were lucky. Whilst my wife’s jewellery box, containing items of great sentimental value was taken, our home wasn’t vandalised, none of us were physically harmed and everything aside from the jewellery could be replaced.

Except my diary.

There were only about 6 weeks worth of entries for the start of 2017. But they were my personal thoughts. And why did someone want them?

I posted on Facebook about it, as I often like to do with curious matters, to get a sense of what others might conclude about this mysterious theft.

Were they reading about me and laughing at my life as they drove off with bags full of our possessions at their feet? Were they high on crack after pawning my daughters iPod for £30 and reading the accounts of my daily life as a 43 year old corporate whore? What had I written about other people in there? Could the other people be identified and would I be exposed for revealing some kind of massive secret?

We’ll never know. The police didn’t think anything of it. They thought we shouldn’t worry. But it is weird.

In hope that they’d tossed it out of the car window, once they realised what it was, we walked the roads, fields and streets around where we live, thinking we might find it discarded.

Ultimately we concluded they mistook it for a kindle in a case and just grabbed it. Then threw it away, along with my wife’s (empty) tatty oriental looking jewellery box in a wheelie bin when they realised it had no value.

No value except to me. It meant something to me.