87. Diary Improvisation

Five-Year Diaries

For most of this period, mum and grandad used the five-year diaries that they had started in 1964, see Chapter 74.  At the end of 1968, grandma went into Norwich to try to buy grandad a new five-year diary. But, she was unsuccessful as most of the ones she found had locks and they considered the prices high. I don’t know why grandad did not want a diary with a lock. Perhaps, as he felt he did not need it, having one would have been an unnecessary expense.

Mum’s and grandad’s diaries 1964-72

A Small Ledger Book

She went back the following day and bought a small ledger book to use as a diary. The cost of this was 7/3 and grandad noted that mum and dad were giving it to him for his birthday.

Denbigh Commercial Book

It was a Denbigh commercial book. Details were on the inside front cover. It was a D68/140 which meant it was eight inches by five inches and had 140 leaves. It was described as “faint” in type. This meant it had single lines and was not laid out as a cash book. These books were originally published by Waverley Stationery. They are still commercially available. However, I could only find the D68 with 90 leaves. I am sure grandad would have commented that this now costs £4.79 when he only paid 7/3 for his and he got more pages! Notes of grandad’s address and the dates of his diary are included inside the front cover

Denbigh sticker inside front cover of grandad’s “diary” 1969-1972
Details written inside grandad’s “diary” 1969-1972. His address – Elstow, 166 Drayton High Road, Drayton, Norwich, NOR 52X – is in the top right corner. It is hard to read. It was done with an embossing stamp

Homemade Layout

Grandad laid out this diary himself. He ruled off a margin and wrote the date and day of the week in that. He wrote the year and dates covered at the top of each page. Because of this approach, he was able to vary the length of entries depending on what had happened and what he wanted to record. He numbered each page sequentially, 1-69 for 1969. In this diary, the years follow on from each other rather than having five years of a particular date on the same page as in a five-year diary.

Extract from grandad’s diary in 1969 showing the homemade layout


Grandad used the page numbers to create what he called an “index”. This was organised by page number and summarised what was on each page. For example, the extract above is summarised as “Dolly came Good Friday”.  

Grandad’s diary index for 1969

Main Bills

Grandad used the back of the diary to summarise their main bills including rates, water rates, gas and electricity. In the year 1969/70, they paid £41 in rates and a further £5 9 4 for water rates. Their gas bill in 1969 was £55 14s and they paid £16 3 1 for electricity during the same period. The details of the gas bill are interesting as this shows that the amount they paid for gas rose from around £56 in 1969 to over £72 in 1972. It also shows the transition to decimal money in 1971.

Details of amounts grandma and grandad paid for gas from 1969 to 1972

Mum’s Diaries Peter Out

As noted earlier, see Chapter 74, mum’s diary entries gradually peter out from April 1964. During this period, there are some entries but they are sporadic The final entry is on 16 August 1967 when she notes that Tricia and grandma had come back from a visit to Hastings. As mentioned earlier, see Chapter 74, I do not know why she stopped writing her diary at this point but the factors are likely to be the ones considered there. Clearly, she had a busy life with four young children and extensive church and social commitments. I think things were still difficult between mum and dad and clearly her mental health problems had worsened. In February 1967, she saw Dr Fraser, a psychiatrist, at St Andrew’s hospital and she received ECT from February to May that year, see Chapter 88.

Mum’s last diary entry in August 1967

A Less Complete Picture

Although I am not sure why mum stopped writing her diary, the effect was that the diaries give a less complete picture of what was happening in the family at that time. In addition, there was more focus on things of interest to grandad, such as woodworking tools and making various things!