This is the journal I am using at the moment (and hopefully for the next five years!). It is 112 years old and was made by Asprey in 1901. In it I write with a pencil from the same (Edwardian) era. I am not sure when the pencil was made but it is a commemorative pencil made during King Edward VII’s reign, which lasted from 1901 to 1910. I use 2h lead which is hard and does not smudge like the softer leads. I have written about this journal here, and the pencil here
It is lockable and was unused until I began using it at the beginning of this year. It is a perfect size – lockable and portable but big enough to write quite a bit.
I have been journalling since 1976. I lost my family when I was a teenager (my grandmother burned to death in a fire, my father had a stroke in the car on the way home from her funeral and three months later my mother died of brain cancer. I had no legal guardian so I became a ward of the state until 1981) and in those days you just put on a brave face and carried on. I didn’t cry or show emotion and so people thought I was fine – in those days people didn’t talk about things, have therapy or work through trauma like they do today. So I channelled all my feelings into my journal. It probably saved my life. It listened, it never judged, it was always there for me as I wrote down my feelings, my pain, my anger, my loneliness. I also had hopes and dreams but no one to tell them to. I felt rootless but my journal grounded me. I travelled around the world for work and pleasure and my journal was my constant companion.
I kept all my old journals from 1976 to about 2008. In 2008 I burned them all. Probably because I didn’t want anyone else to read all the devastation, anger and pain I had poured onto that paper. But also because I finally felt that that person was behind me and that I could let it all go.
For a while I didn’t journal at all but I missed it so for the past few years I have jotted down things when it strikes me – a beautiful day, a kind gesture or word, sometimes the temperature and weather if it is extreme, things I am thankful for. I am now on my second five-year journal. This one is very special because it was made before the first flight – it has been through two World Wars, the moon landing, 9/11, the digital age. And is now in my loving hands.
On the front page of the diary is written in old fashioned handwriting, a quote from Hamlet. I wonder who it was meant for and who wrote it, so long ago?