Which diary will I get this year? Desk or pocket? Page-a-day or five-year one, complete with padlock and key? Or a Samuel Pepys one, which is already filled in for you?
As a kid my dad would always buy me the MCC diary, which I’d pour over in my Balham flat in the 60s discovering which far-flung places the England cricket teams would be travelling to over the next five or six years.
Growing up, Lett’s was invariably the diary brand of choice.
In 1967 an ancient relative mistakenly gave me the Lett’s Brownie diary; whilst the dates worked ok, I spent the entire year desperately trying to lend a hand!
As I grew older and didn’t feel the need to train for any more badges (having learned how to tie knots, clean my shoes and make a receptacle capable of containing an emergency sixpence) but received diaries containing all manner of information: maps, geo-political statistics and the posher ones, a linen bookmark.
But much of this information – like the GDP of southern Tanganyika – I’d learned through my old school exercise books; on the back covers of which were housed data which could have enabled me to have been the first six-year-old to appear on Mastermind.
As well as showing you simple multiplication tables, you also learned that four noggins made a pint, four farthings made a penny and twenty-one shillings made a guinea. Although my later diaries would show an actual map of Guinea!
I even know how many mickles make a muckle.
For this year’s birthdays I’ll be sending everyone 36lbs of hay, which is a truss, which, in my day, used to be a type of surgical support.
Happy New Year – even though it is already February in Tanganyika!