Monday, October 27, 2008

The value of keeping a journal

Today, being Labour Day, meant we had some spare time. It also meant that I’d start a job and get sidetracked, as I did at one point when I came across one of my old journals – pages 476- 662 to be precise, dating from October 1994 to early February, 1997.
I sat down in the sun – brilliantly sunny day today – and read the entries for the period through from October to Christmas that year. Seems to have been an extraordinarily eventful time – in my terms, anyway.
I started off playing for some singing exam, and then got roped in to play for some auditions; amongst the auditionees was Ana James, who was still only in her late teens at that stage, I think. Wrote a very long review of the local production of Les Miserables (an excellent production of a much overrated musical); talked about finding tenants for a rental property we’d not long bought; wrote about the doings of my 17-year-old daughter; discussed a loan the shop was taking out; and talked at length about getting on the Internet.
I-Day was 30.10.94. In those days it was like travelling an unknown country: the modem would play up, the Internet connections came and went with great irregularity (they went via the University at this point, and their connections were just as erratic); we could call up our provider (three times one weekend) and get extra time on credit (!) – and then go in and pay them the next day at the office under one of the local bars. Even then things were moving fast enough for a newly published book of Internet addresses to be out of date. Emails might go straight away or get held up because of intermittent connections. We joined ‘lists’ and wound up getting emails galore with people already flaming other people. But it was all very exciting: getting into the University of Honolulu’s library…!
The ‘world premiere’ of four songs I’d written to poems by Ruth Dallas happened. Ruth Dallas was at the concert, and apparently couldn’t sleep that night because she was so excited. At this time she’d was a retired lady, well-established as one of New Zealand’s best poets. We never quite get over the excitement of seeing our ‘children’ come to life again.
We altered our kitchen. Originally, when we moved into the house, there’d been a small kitchen and a small dining room next to it. We’d opened up the whole thing and made it one large room – much more convenient for a family of seven. And then, in December here we are turning it into two rooms again, the dining room becoming another bedroom. (The new dining room was in the room that’s now our bedroom.)
As well, in this month, I played again for Ana James – this time at the Town Hall. It was part of the Royal Male Choir concert, and apparently went on so long that I’d been home for an hour before it finished! And then I played for the St Francis Xavier School Musical – something I’d already been doing for several years, and was still doing a couple of years ago. They only have their musical once every two years now. I haven’t heard whether there’s one on this year or not.
During this period I also began writing book reviews for the Otago Daily Times. Dunedin being the size city it is, the book editor was Ana James’ father (!) Some time after this he moved to another editorial role, and Charmian Smith became the (very excellent) book editor. She’s just given up that role in the last couple of weeks, and…Bryan James is now book editor again!
And in October that year I also saw Forrest Gump for the first time. And then took all the kids a week or so later. I haven’t seen it for a long time, so I don’t know what I’d stll think about it, but certainly it made an impression on me at the time.
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