I HAVE always been an avid diary keeper. Towards the beginning of the New Year I look forward to a new diary and can't wait to fill it, first with birthdays, anniversaries and then important contact numbers. Then only do I worry about filling it with items relating to work - major appointments, any big projects, deadlines.
But as weeks turn into months, my diary assumes a new image of familiar and organised chaos that only I alone can decipher. Phone numbers written in eyebrow pencils, sometimes in lip liners, find their way among things to do and what to buy, buried in between "terrible headaches" and "late again!"
There's the occasional "$*(*&!!! and a smattering of ????, weighed heavy with implications and emotions. But try reading the jottings a few years later and even the heavily underlined phrases tend to lose some of their intensity with which they were penned.
There are cryptic phrases that read and sound like a dialogue in a Spy vs Spy episode, as well as circles around dates and phone numbers with no names.
I once succumbed to a temporary whim of wanting to be a yuppie even at an age when I was more downwardly pulled than upwardly mobile. I thought I had to be seen carrying this yuppie bible called the filofax.
Soon it was bulging with pages and I was soon presented with an electronic organiser from sympathisers who thought it could help organise my life. That didn't work either, as I am a technically challenged person. I want my diary, one that I can flip through and tear when I want to.
But looking through my now impressive collection of old battered diaries, I wonder if I can make money out of them. People seemed to be making money out of diaries, so why shouldn't I?
I could do well by taking a leaf out of Edwina Currie's published diary of her liaison with former British Prime Minister John Major. Well, I could if I have any liaison worth publishing.
But how does one know when to start jotting the juicy bits and sound bites that will be worth all the risk and bother? Do you start with just the sketches and then expand it later according to how the relationship develops?
But isn't a diary supposed to be so private, so personal that it is only meant for your eyes only? I just wonder that for someone to meticulously jot down every little detail of the former leader's now infamous blue underpants, she must have such vision that the wearer would become a world figure one day. Well, if you have any kind of brush at all with anyone along the corridors of power, it must be worth keeping a diary - just in case.
And, of course, if you think the disgraced British peer and author, Lord Jeffrey Archer, was going to spend his time peeling potatoes in the prison kitchen, think again. Yes, he did do that, only to be able to write first hand what it was like to do things that we mortals do every day in our own kitchen. With every peel that fell to the floor, he knew that the public is hungry to read about what goes on behind the prison walls.
The British public has been treated to serialised extracts of the diaries of many public figures. There's Currie and Archer and of course Princess Diana's Butler. And I don't believe we have seen the last.
It is the age of kiss-and-tell and voyeurism. People want to see what goes on in your private life and nothing is private or sacred anymore. Have you seen the number of hits at the datindiaries blog? I keep going back too, but she is keeping us salivating before she unleashes another sizzling one. Hmm, and there's sarungparty girl's as well, makes my journal jottings as fun as a nun's in a convent.
Anyway, most of us who keep personal letters and diaries and do not want prying eyes do have a problem. What do we do with them if we don't want people pouring over every little detail of our love letters or diaries when we die?
Do we destroy them; burn them so that our children and great grandchildren will never know the deepest secrets that we and our beloved shared in the throes of young love? Or worst still, what if they sell and publish them?
Oftentimes, I read and reread old letters and diaries and store them back carefully under the bed. I still don't have the heart to destroy them. I wonder what other people do with their diaries and old letters? Most probably I'll burn them and store the ashes. Or better still, mix the ashes in water and drink it. But to let other people read them? Never!