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Diaries are meant to be read. But they are about posterity too

Monday night and the Jamieson family are in the living room.

The TV is off. We're all looking at our own screens. J is on her laptop, doing work. I'm updating my Twitter feed (1). Daughter number one is in old-school mode, playing Pokemon on her Nintendo DS, while daughter number two texts her mates on her phone. It's all very 21st century.

We talk as we tweet and text and click. Two of us are passing wind (I'll not name names, but I'm not one of them). We talk about that. (You would, wouldn't you?)

We talk about Wham! (daughter number two loves Wham!), the fact that Andrew Ridgeley is the same age as her mum almost to the day, and Tupac Shakur's shooting because rap always comes into the conversation with my daughters.

We also talk about the ethics of daughter number one's reading daughter number two's Facebook messages. "She left it open on the computer," daughter number one says as her thumb continues to batter away at the DS keys. "You shouldn't look, though, should she, Dad?" her younger sister says between trying to remember the exact lyrics of Everything She Wants (2). I mumble something non-committal. I know if I had come across the messages I'd probably have read them too.

I could maybe try to justify it as a father's concern, but, really, it's just nosiness. Years ago when my mate Damon (not his real name) stayed with J and me for a summer in our flat in Stirling he left his diary behind when he finally moved. I found it when I was tidying the room. And yes, I read it. Does this make me a bad person (3)?

What did I learn? Only that he had a crush on his hairdresser. That must be a common crush, really. It's one of the few times men have someone giving them some due care and attention. It's not one I've ever shared, but that's only because I go to a barber.

The thing is diaries are meant to be read, aren't they? The writer is thinking about the reader, even if the only reader will be him or herself. But diaries are about posterity too. You can't help but imagine someone reading them years from now. Maybe not a couple of days after you've gone off to do a teaching course down south, admittedly.

Me, I stopped keeping a diary when I realised I was never going to be a latterday Pepys.

He had the Great Fire of London. I had dodgy central heating. Not the same.

I stick to Twitter now. I know nobody reads that.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Because clearly my two followers need to know absolutely everything I do.

[2] One of George's finest efforts, I've always thought.

[3] Rhetorical question. You don't need to tell me how bad.

Twitter: @teddyjamieson

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