Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Time Capsule

When I was eight - to misquote a song lyric - it was a very good year.

On Christmas Day my friend Jo and I went out of our house, out of the garden and round the block - - all by ourselves!

"So this is what it's like to be grown up," I thought. I know that many eight-year olds went a lot further on their own than I had ever done - - but I was the fairly-late-arriving much-wanted first child of, therefore, over-protective parents. My mother had several miscarriages before I was born and then some more before my brother was born - - and his birth happened when I was nine.

Yesterday, sorting junk in what used to be my parent's bedroom, I came across a box labelled "Daphne" and in the box, amongst many other things, was the school diary that I kept from 1964 to 1965. There isn't an entry every day - - but every few days, certainly.

If only they'd invented the internet I could have written a blog! But instead we had this.


A school notebook, cut in half. I've got the other half, too, which had spellings in it for the class spelling tests - - all - coughs modestly - far too easy for me, because, as I've said before, one of the very few certainties that I've always had in my life is that I can spell. So in my spelling book there are words like "bread" and in my diary there are words like "convalescent." Hah!


I was in Mr Allen's class at the time, where, in a very un-PC way, we sat for every month in the rank order from the feared Monthly Tests that we'd had the previous month. But I liked Mr Allen - he was the school music teacher and a superb musician. I played the recorder and sang in the choir, and he ran both these groups.

Yes, a very Sixties middle-class childhood - - except, of course, that my Dad was a Communist. He was also a pharmacist, and that's how the diary starts, with a mention of his shop in Acomb, York (where Olli and Gareth now live, coincidentally).

I was a very precise little girl, it's evident from this diary. For ever date, I put an apostrophe before the year so every date goes 11.9.'64. And I know it, because I've turned into the pedantic old thing that I am now. I'd like to think that I had a good sense of humour but there's not much evidence of it here - - but still, I was writing it for school. My school image was of the bespectacled swot, but I had plenty of friends and it didn't bother me. I knew there was another Daphne, one who liked building dens and swimming and spending a lot of time out of doors - - but my teachers never really knew about that one, unless they read between the lines in this diary.

All the entries are very short and there's a lot of unconscious humour. Here's the beginning of it, with the original spelling and punctuation (again, pretty good, just the occasional missed apostrophe).

11.9.'64
On Wednesday it was Daddys half-day. He took us to York. Mrs Brwwn, Daddy's assistant in his shop, has two children. We searched the cabbages and found lots of caterpillars.

14.9.'64 (My father's forty-first birthday, though I make no mention of this)
Yesterday we went to Bridlington to see Grandad. Grandad is in a convalescent home after an operation. We dug lots of channels and lakes Down to the sea. Later it was windy and we went to the harbour and saw the boats coming in for safety.

15.9.'64
Yesterday I invented a new Kind of swing. I swung as high as I could standing up and then I tried to sit down. It was very hard.

16.9.'64
Yesterday I made a sort of dolls house out of grass and twigs and flowers. It looked like a grassy mound.

17.9.'64
Yesterday I recieved a letter from the Wildlife people because I have joined the Panda Club.

18.9.'64
Yesterday Linda and Susan came round and we played horses with a rope.

(Linda and Susan were twins who lived nearby. They had considerably more freedom than I did. I met them when they wandered into the garden and took my doll's pram for a walk, then brought it back! Their family still runs a garage just round the corner).

21.9.'64
Yesterday morning we went to the woods and found lots of acorns and beech nuts and autumn leaves. We couldn't find any conkers because the boys had taken them all.

22.9.'64
Yesterday I went round to Josephine's house and we played at not letting Paul Breakwell see us.

I think that "not letting Paul Breakwell see us" was an early, primitive form of what would later be known as "flirting". Oh yes, it was a good year, 1964.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jennyta said...

Yes, it was, Daphne. I had done most of my 'O' levels in December
'63 so I only had two left to do that summer.
I remember the Panda club!

11:08 am  
Blogger Debby said...

Oh that was awesome!!! It took me right back to my diary days. Mine would have been full of missssspellinggs though! Oops, still are!!! I love hearing about your childhood!

8:54 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

I think I kept diaries too but unfort none survive. Your recollections of the 60s are like my own of the 80s!

8:59 am  

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