Dear Diary … Sorry.

The phenomenon of one’s diary being one’s friend is bizarre, yet generally accepted unquestioningly. I carried out a little research into the origins of this form of personification and found very little, so I cannot impart any worthy scraps of wisdom on the topic. Despite diaries making it onto the National Curriculum some time ago, they are rarely kept consistently, as Moira Redmond highlights in her article in The Guardian:”…you get one as a Christmas present, start writing it, and continue for, oh, a few days…”

The only people she feels should be trusted with the commitment of keeping a journal are fictional characters. This seems fair; as she points out, fictional characters are “forced by their authors to continue the story.” Imagine how sketchy the Bridget Jones franchise would have been if our title character had been as fickle as a real person with her autobiographical offerings.

Any diaries in my Christmas stocking were the result of money well-spent, however. I didn’t keep a diary for my whole childhood but for a good percentage and its purpose was therapeutic, as indeed was my blog’s raison d’etre, initially. Having recently moved house twice in the space of 14 months, I have unwittingly unearthed these dramatic accounts of my childhood and therefore whiled away the occasional half hour on Lisa Workman: The Full Story. The most interesting part is being reminded of how I thought as a child, a teenager and then a twenty-something. Then there is a chasm of nothingness until my blog.

Returning to the ‘Dear Diary’ phenomenon, if my diary is to be considered a best friend, then it is a childhood friend, resurrected in some of my darkest moments in adulthood. I leaned heavily upon this friend earlier this year, but as it did its job of providing a shoulder on which to cry, I have managed to cope for ever-increasing periods of time without it. But, like Fred in ‘Drop Dead Fred’, I hold sway over this friend and as I don’t wish it to cease existing altogether, we will be meeting up from time-to-time; just not as regularly as before.

Another reason for less regular meetings with my blog diary is my new job reviewing movies. I still have my regular teaching job (the appeal was successful), but I have recently joined the team of writers on a film archive website also. Watching, pondering and ultimately writing about a movie takes a considerable amount of time, not to mention editing – which probably takes the most amount of time – so I have little time left for blogging. And little inclination, if I’m honest, as the reviewing fulfils my current need to indulge in this particular muse.

Lastly, my new Open Mic partner has returned from his summer in France and we are finding our feet on the Open Mic circuit, so this is another time commitment that takes me away from this. But that sounds so blunt and cavalier; this is a time commitment that I didn’t think I’d ever have. Just over a year ago, when I started to feel my way around the world of Open Mic as an onlooker, I wanted to be a part of it. I’ve sung a bit in the past, I thought. But I figured I’d have to brush up on my piano playing skills and stick to pubs with pianos, or buy a keyboard, or learn another instrument, like the guitar. But then I broke my wrist. And then I met the Rastafarian and I started to trail around watching him perform and I accepted my role as spectator only. Then that ended and now, here I am, singing at Open Mic nights. New Open Mic Partner – thank you. As with the film reviewing, this is a time commitment I’m very happy to have.

I’m clinging onto the last vestiges of summer by wearing flimsy clothes and shoes, but I shall have to admit defeat soon. Summer was long and warm (mostly) and I indulged in a few trips out, a few catch-ups with friends and a few musical events. One trip out/catch-up with friend was an outing to The Globe to see Macbeth for a fiver (standing). We donned silly – but welcome – free paper hats to shield our faces from the searing sun and opted to stand quite far back so we could lean on the wooden balustrade separating the ‘standers’ from the ‘sitters’ and I was glad we traded a closer view for some support. My legs didn’t start to ache till the second half and even then it was drawing to a close. The quality of the production was unmatched by any other I’ve seen, so for a fiver it was worth the stand.

On the return train, there was a group of twenty-somethings who were surprisingly drunk for so early in the evening. There were no seats, so they stood by the doors and struggled to maintain their balance which, of course, brought about giggly fits of mirth, much to the consternation of the rest of the carriage. They were the cause of some serious eye-rolling, stern looks and huffs and puffs from fellow passengers. The burping, due to continued consumption of gassy lager and the colourful language was a lot for people to handle and when the five other people in my little alcove of seats left, I realised that this noisy situation was about to land in my lap.

And it did. I had been writing a film review on my iPad, which I tried to continue despite one of the group sitting so close to me, he really was almost in my lap. To be fair, he was the least rowdy of the group and attempted to quell his friends’ raucousness by saying ‘there’s a lady here – you guys are being offensive.’ Then he turned to me, repeatedly, to apologise. I said that it was fine and engaged with him as little as possible, as some of them seemed a little aggressive and I wanted to minimise potential problems for myself. I stifled a sneeze, so as not to attract attention and rooted around for a tissue. By now, they were particularly noisy and the one practically in my lap said:

“Guys! You’ve made the lady cry! You should be ashamed.”

I laughed and said that I was fine and that I wasn’t crying and they all laughed. I became aware that the one who was a little close for comfort had become quiet and then I developed a sense of being watched. But he wasn’t watching me … He was reading my review.

“You’re a writer?” he asked.

Despite having a job as a writer now, I feel like an imposter saying that I am one, so I explained about the film reviewing and that I was a teacher mostly.

“I’m struggling to read it over your shoulder,” he said, “so tell me about the movie.”

I asked if he liked Quentin Tarantino and he laughed, as if I should have known that a young, hip, black guy from Peckham would like Tarantino. I started to talk about the movie (not a Tarantino but similar) and the most offensive of the group, who was sitting opposite me, said:

“I know this movie! It’s one of my favourites – are you writing a review on it?”

I said that I was and he began to prove that he could make sounds other than burping and offensive language.

“What subject do you teach?” asked the girl opposite the one who was very close to me, who turned out to be his sister.

We got chatting about English teachers and special needs and it turned out that she had been to a special needs school and wanted to work in one herself. Her brother started to talk about his musical ambitions and we had some common ground with Open Mic.

By the time the train pulled into Brighton, the six of us had covered stylised violence in movies, differing genres of music in pubs and special needs education, which was not what I would have expected from a group of loud, drunken lads (and one ladette). Each of them shook my hand and thanked me for my company … I did the same and they seemed full of contrition for their earlier behaviour. I laughed and said that it really didn’t bother me and I marvelled at how sensibly they disembarked onto the platform. They didn’t seem even slightly merry. Funny.

So after the trauma of leaving my workplace, I’m back for a term. My leaving card still resides on the mantelpiece and I’ve only just polished off the consumable goodies from my thoughtful basket of loveliness from my colleagues. The students are baffled as to why I am back and I have to tell myself every day that it is only for a term. There are no jobs of the calibre I need to survive, so I will probably find myself signing up to a supply agency in January and say ‘yes’ to any requests from anxious parents to tutor their children. I will be renting out a room or two in order to generate a bit more income and then I will ponder my future. Living abroad for a spell is still bouncing around my mind, although a few things have popped up to make me question whether the time is right, so if that pipe dream becomes a reality, it will probably be September 2017.

Joseph finished uni and after moving back here, immediately gained an internship writing/editing for a music magazine so I’m enjoying a proud mum moment. Rhiannon is switching degree courses and has to take time out in-between, so has also moved back. I know that both returns home are temporary but for the moment I am happy to have a full house again and will enjoy it while it lasts. Hannah (Joseph’s girlfriend) has moved down here too and we see a great deal of Jay, the new man in Rhiannon’s life. It’s great to have a full house again, although I am prepared for a time when it won’t be.

I had many blog-worthy experiences in the summer. Harassment from the Rastafarian being one of them and so I ignore his efforts to contact me now. I haven’t run into him for some time and I don’t know where he is living so I have come to terms with the non-payment of his debt to me. Sexting from Wimbledon Man being another … I threatened to block him and so I don’t have to endure his unwanted stream of blatant sexual harassment now. And many other blog-worthy experiences, but I neglected recording them in favour of film reviewing and the passage of time has dulled my memory enough to make it arduous trying to write about them.

We may not meet up as regularly as we once did, blog diary, but I will try to be a better friend than I have been lately.