I first encountered Adrian Mole on VHS. There I was, happily watching Thundercats and just as Tygra was trapped in Castle Plun-Dar without his invisibility whip who should hove into view through the sudden TV snow but Adrian Mole, with a toy aeroplane stuck to his nose.
I should have immediately seen him as a kindred spirit, we both knew parental betrayal. His parents had conducted secret affairs in the kitchen, mine had recorded over Thundercats.
As it was, even though it took another 20 years or so before I saw what happened to Tygra (spoiler alert, he escapes), I warmed to Adrian Mole.
Of course Adrian Mole is a good fictional example, an individual with grandiose dreams for himself. A teenage intellectual trapped in the Midlands. According to my 1999 diary I was starved in the South East of “interlectual” discussion. Uhuh.
As to why I kept a diary in the first place, the first page declaring it private explains it all: “IF FOUND AND (VERY RUDELY) READ PLEASE SEND TO PUBLISHER BECAUSE IF YOU’VE READ IT EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD MIGHT AS WELL.”
I know, I was a generous teenager; the whole world might share in my upset that my mother turned to my father and said “chill out”. In the diary I toy with writing in code but concede there’s little point, a diary that records homework excuses and records my friends’ many absences from school is not worth the secret agent treatment.
Scandalous things happen to other people in my diary, I frequently lament the absence of puberty in my life. Due to being short and undeveloped I was too much of a liability to be invited to any underage sneaking into nightclubs. By April I appear to realise this is not the publisher’s dream I’d hoped for and the entries peter out.
It is only since I entered my 20s that I became a more frequent diary keeper. In fact I might as well confess now, I was a LiveJournaller.
Squeamish Louise was a more consistent and faithful teenage diary keeper. Somewhere in an attic there are volumes of recorded teen angst and worries. All written, between the ages of 11 and 19, to a soundtrack of Placebo and Ani Difranco.
People claim not to have kept a diary for various reasons. Fear of what their future self might think, or worse, their parents happening upon their scribblings. Or just plain laziness and a lack of self-obsession.
My problem was lack of audience. I wrote those diaries in the belief I would be famous one day and these (abandoned) diaries would be required for memory jogging when the day came for me to write my autobiography.
F1 Kate admits to similar thinking: “That was why I started them, whenever I could be bothered. Because obviously I was destined to BE SOMEBODY, and my biographers would be grateful I had thought ahead. Except I never wrote in them.”
Future biographers might like to note there is preserved teen F1 Kate poetry.