|Oh THAT's what they're for
||[Sep. 3rd, 2010|08:20 pm]
I hate diaries and yet I'm surrounded by them. My dad loves diaries which may well be why I hate them. He loves poring over Samuel Pepys' work and countless others, reading about meals that are hundreds of years old, houses that are restaurants, offices or gone completely. For him it brings history alive.
I have many heroes but, first and foremost on that list, is Henry Rollins. The former lead singer of Black Flag, Rollins is a musclebound, tattooed shaven headed man who looks like he should be killing people in the woods. In reality he's a fiercely smart, self aware, self deprecating and intelligent guy who has a talk show, a TV show about film and regularly does spoken word tours which are one part stand up comedy, one part lecture, one part look inside the mind of a man who's a little too clever for his own good.
I found Rollins' work the year my best friend had his second bout of leukaemia. This was the year I was in lower sixth, the year my hair was appalling (Anyone who tells you a mullet is business up front, party in the back is LYING and HATES YOU almost as much as they hate themselves), the year my dad's mental health continued to fragment as he pushed into the final eighteen months of his time as a teacher, the year my head of form asked me to tell the class what was going on with Q.
Stop and think about that for a second. I'm 17, my best friend has his second bout of leukaemia, which may or may not be cured. I'm a child, I'm fat, my hair looks stupid, I'm the son of a teacher at the school who is one bad week away from a nervous breakdown and my head of form gets me to deliver a fucking lecture on my best friend's longterm survival prospects to my peers. That was not a pleasant morning,
It was also the sort of thing that diaries seem to allow people to explore. Rollins saw his best friend killed in front of him and the police pour so much salt in the wound that the horror took years to fade and ever really wlll. Pepys saw his home destroyed by the Fire of London and yet still found time to write about his thoughts on it and the fact he buried his wheel of Parmesan in the backyard to preserve it. Diaries allow you to put the inside outside, to externalise your though process. Not something I could ever do, because my thought process is dialled in, walled up, private. I've carried my fair share of trauma in my life and I've survived it by being fine and, sometimes, FINE. I'm Nice Al who deals with stuff but I'm also Nice Al who has a tendency to not write nice things down because you do that? It gives them edges, boundaries. It means they end and it encourages what comes after them to hurry towards you.
Diaries externalise but they also limit and control and they take you out of the moment and sometimes the moment is exactly where you need to be.
But then again.
I walked home tonight along the river and Summer in York is TENACIOUS this year. It was fiercely hot and I stopped off at the new Costa coffee to get Kate a fruit booster (Mango and Passion Fruit in this case) and a Coffee Frescato for me, I had a rough day at work, five first contact logs in half a day where a busy day features three but I'd got to the end of the day and I'd even helped a couple of American tourists find the pub they were looking for. I moved past them, looked up at Scarborough Bridge drenched in golden light and the people making their way home and the first strains of 'Rock Star' by Nickelback kicked in and the coffee tasted so damn good and then I knew, I knew this is what diaries are for.
So I'm back and I've also started a diary at ohlife.com. It's an interesting idea, you post by email and it sends you a previous post every day as a prompt. I enter into this with some trepidation because, well, the chances of suck are fairly high but I figure it's worth a shot. And besides, as Chad Kroeger himself put it, I want to be a rock star, and how else will I get the spine for my autobiography?