I was born in 1964 – just 19 years after the end of the Second World War. By neat symmetry I started writing a journal in 1993, just before we had our first daughter. I was still working for the company I joined in 1985. I had been married to the girl I met in 1983 for 4 years. I wrote about anything and everything – a page of A4 a day to record the state of my world at that time. It seems that the same things were happening – just with different technology.
Just looking at the photo from 1994 I can see I had lots more hair, of a different colour and the diary reveals I weighed almost 2 stones more than I do now. I was clearly just as fashion-conscious as today (not at all).
Technology has clearly moved on as you would expect – my parents bought their first video recorder, there was no such thing as digital photography and I had a very large camcorder to record events of a Disney holiday. I was selling computers at the time and I really think I could still function perfectly well with the PC I had then – for word processing and spreadsheets. The only thing I would probably struggle with is disk space and the browsing experience was clunky – I remember by browser of choice was Metacrawler. And Apple? They were nowhere – the world was IBM and Microsoft with Apple being the platform of choice for marketeers and designers but struggling financially. I had just bought a PC for home use which cost me £700 – to replace a PC which was outdated which I bought a year earlier for £700. I imagined with horror the standard specification of a PC in another 18 months – 2Mb of RAM and 40Mb of disk! In the event I bought another PC later in the year to that specification for over £1100.
Early in January I started to write about Iraq. Saddam Hussein was posturing by moving tanks close to the Kuwaiti border. My verdict? “Saddam Hussein is playing silly buggers again…He reminds me of an irritating schoolboy who throws stones or knocks on the door and then runs away… The answer is to squash him I’m afraid.” Later in January a British soldier died in fighting in Bosnia.
There was also a hacking story in the news. Newly-privatised British Airways’ staff had somehow got hold of Virgin’s customer database. They reached an out-of-court settlement reported at £610,000.
The IRA was still active and the Warrington bomb went off in March killing two young boys. There were further bombs and although there were hints that the tide of opinion was turning against IRA action to achieve results there was nothing imminent.
My working life seemed to be travelling into the City of London by car regularly. This was pre-congestion charge. Ever since it came in I’ve not driven into London – I’ve always caught a train so it’s worked on me.
In the few days before my daughter was born I carried a pager so that if I was needed I could be contacted. It was another few years or so before I would have a mobile phone. I don’t even know if pagers exist any more – even in hospitals.
And that’s it – not so very different from today – technology rapidly developing – if anything PC development has slowed down without the rampant obsolescence which existed previously. Or maybe it’s my perspective – maybe there are lots of little comments and notes in my journal which an impartial third-party would pick up on in the same way that I would see real differences in a 1973 journal.
As I wrote it I had no expectation of revelation: “I am under no pretension of a book, a soulmate or spreadsheet (?). I want a pragmatic diary which I’ll enjoy writing. Under no pressure to fill the page, and to give my children an insight as to who their Dad was or is. I’m writing it as I’m thinking. It would be nice if its interesting or funny but frankly it’s possibly only to me (sic). Maybe I’ll give it to my kids on their 16th birthday. It may make them more tolerant during their teens.”
I carried on for ten years or so – on and off.