Back to the Future


I suffer from diary envy.  Secretly, I want to be a Samuel Pepys or Adrian Mole, a Simone Weil or Bridget Jones. The most innocuous entries say so much about a life lived, about culture and trends, people and politics, the personal and the professional.

Occasionally, for the odd year here and there, I’ve managed an approximation of journal-ism. When I chance on a decrepit blue Dataday diary in a drawer, or an old blog post online, I’m transported back and reminded of faces and places long forgotten.

In 2006/7 I kept an online journal in which I diarised life as a PUSPIE. That is, a Professional Urban Single Parent in Extremis. I saw myself as living in a bunker, looking out on the world. The style and vocabulary used for the entries is staccato and fragmented, reflecting the speed and absurdity of it all.

Style and vocabulary are important markers or representations of a brand. The PUSPIE style, which was not conscious, is also presented in single paragraphs. There are no breaks in the stories. The feeling is chaotic and joyful, careless yet controlled.

I’ve pasted one of the PUSPIE posts below.

The way we write, whether it’s an email or a diary entry, can give away a lot. Large companies often have books on house style, which determine the tone and the vocabulary that represent their brand. What does your style say about you?


Another week, another blur. I cannot account for the time. Somewhere in London is a wormhole. That must be how, last night, I found myself back in the 1970s. It started with farce. Literally. Donkey’s Years at the Comedy theatre. Only one set of trousers was dropped. But there was a lot of door action. I tittered my way through. Afterwards my companion and I sauntered along to Chez Victor. On entering, I sensed all was not well. It was the Chianti bottles… The menu came. Avocado with prawns, chicken Kiev, mozarella and tomato. “It’s very seventies,” said my mate. “It’s very Italian,” said I. The obligatory flirting waiter arrived. “This is supposed to be a French restaurant.” I said. He winked. “We are mixed French and Italian, and I am recommending to you the Italian carrots.” After a night of farce, I was on euphmism watch. I considered his carrots, which were more baby than bunch, and declined. Just then I spotted scampi on the menu. And zabaglione. And decided there are some traditions worth revisiting. My mate, who had chosen the venue because she wished to share a louche story with me and felt the nearby Chinese cafes were not conducive to secrets-sharing, started to relax. “I feel like we’ll go outside and everyone will be in velvet jackets,” she said, blowing a smoke circle. At that moment my mobile went. It was a former schoolgate mum. “I’ve got tickets for Cliff Richard next Sunday night and one of them has your name on it,” she said. It’s at moments like this I wish for Marty McFly and a safe passage Back to the Future…