One day in History

Tuesday October 17, 2006

Today was the UK’s ‘One day in History’ mass blogging effort, where the entire UK population is invited to participate by recording their day as in a blog and post it to the History Matters web site for storage in a database to be maintained and made available by the British Library. Something along the lines of Mass Observation. I’ve done my bit and will post it to the web site as soon as the inevitable over-load clears. In my experience those who set up these efforts inevitably underestimate the load on their servers that user response will trigger.

My take? Well, I’ve been deeply interested in the Mass Observation archive material for years, especially that from WWII, so I wish the venture well, though I’d not want to be responsible for scanning and analysing the results. My only misgiving is that the maximum word count of 600 is inadequate for recording the minutiae of a routine day. Leastways, it is for me. I commonly write more than that every day even after selecting just the [relatively] interesting bits.

However, for what it’s worth, I wrote my account and post it here, just to show how unutterably boring a blow-by-blow record of a day can be:

Got up at about 0650, still mostly dark. Crept downstairs, made coffee and gave the cat a drink at the kitchen tap. Turned computer on in the study and went back to the kitchen to mooch through the first coffee of the day while watching breakfast TV. Then, tiring of the “isn’t this bad news interesting?” guff, to the study, to start work on the online journal entry for yesterday, with Radio 3 to keep me company. The cat sits on the windowsill waiting impatiently for me to go out into the garden for a break so’s she can take the air.

0745 — second cup of coffee and morning diuretic pill.

0815 — the morning rush hour begins as I complete the first page of journal. Tots and mums on foot and on bikes in one direction to the primary school, older kids in raggle-taggle clusters to the comprehensive in the other, and working folks starting up cars, all steamy in the morning air, off out of the close. It’s all over in twenty minutes and that’s when I take the week’s rubbish out to the kerb. Diuretic kicks in. Sit with the cat in the back garden for fifteen minutes, then CP wakes and leans out of bedroom window to say good morning. Tea for him, third coffee for me, then back to work.

1100 — journal written up and illustrated. People are interested in viewing our progress, slow as it is, as we settle in to the new house. Files uploaded to and computer shut down. Now for the business of the day. CP has to go to the dentist to have two teeth extracted and an abcess evacuated. The appointment is for 1150 and we leave plenty of time in case there’s any hold-up on the bridge. Sitting in the waiting room feels worse for me than when I’m there on my own account. The work was finished in ten minutes; CP profoundly grateful. It’s good to have us both signed up as NHS patients once more.

1300 — back home, in a steady rain. Still very mild out. CP flops on sofa to recover, sipping hot water and watching something on TV. All is very quiet in the close apart from periodic visits from delivery services. Funny — the guy hops out of the van and rings the bell. The door opens, a hand reaches out for the packet, signs the docket, and is withdrawn behind the closed door again. With some neighbours that’s all you ever see to prove there’s someone home. If the hands and arms were to be skeletal a good story of the ‘what if’ kind could be written about them. I’m starving and, once I’ve caught the one o’clock news headlines, I shall fix myself eggs on toast for my brunch. Still raining, increasing in intensity.

1800 — struggled awake from long siesta, miseried in front of TV news over umpteenth cup of coffee. When properly awake drove over to Sainsbury’s for dinner makings — poached plaice and soft vegetables. CP making good recovery and was rewarded with ice-cream. I had some too, in recognition of my faithful service. Dark when I got back, just missing the first evening excursion of the boy racers in their boom-boxes on wheels. It’ll be a TV evening, so long as we can find something other than Blair, Iraq, and the issue of the full Muslim veil, all of which have exceeded civilised interest levels. Living through history is not consistently interesting.

1900 — a little Internetery, email and scanning UK news pages.

2100 — dinner.

2300 — and so to bed.

CP:  Civil Partner[ship]—the equal rights status given in Britain to registered partners of the same sex. It grants and guarantees the same legal rights to gay couples in a permanent relationship as exist for married heterosexual couples.



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