Advent Calender 2013 – Dec 18th: Q&A Diary

18 Q&A Diary

The 2013 Advent Calender: For the 25 days of Christmas, I will be blogging each day about a miscellaneous thing I love. Not necessarily a big thing, not necessarily a small thing and not in any order.

I used to keep diaries, but only intermittently. Or more accurately: only at a time when whatever was happening seemed of sufficient melodrama to warrant recording, whereas diaries are probably more useful for recording to seemingly unremarkable events that slip by and vanish into memory.

I also frequently buy diaries and calenders, as I’m sure plenty of people do, approaching new year. They’re nearly always abandoned quickly, but this year was not the case, because I’d bought a little gem of a book, called the Q&A diary.


The gimmick of this book is that it doesn’t run for one year–it runs for five. Each page is headed with the date (indeterminate from an assigned weekday), a short pithy question, and then five spaces below. The first year of the diary, you fill in the top space. The next year, the second, the third year, the third, and so on. The questions range from quite deep (What inspired you today? Can people change?) on through tricky (Who loves you today? Who are you fooling? How would your parents describe you?) to banal (What song is stuck in your head? What was the last bad movie you watched?) Towards November, it started getting a bit bohemian and asked me to write my day in rhyming couplets and a haiku.

It’s great on a day-to-day basis–the prompts are simple, and occasionally therapeutic–but the real value of it will lie in January when I return for a second pass. The rub lies in the answers. Will it be different? In 2014, will I have changed my mind over whether people can change? Will I still be inspired by what I was, or will there be something new? Does someone new love me? Does someone no longer? Am I still fooling people? Those bigger questions will of course hold fascination when I can chart the change, but in some ways, the little questions have got more important. Flipping through the write this post, I came across the January post asking what’s your current favourite song, and I’ve written Youngblood Hawke – We Come Running, a song that was going around and around in my head. A year later, I’ve forgotten all about it, but humming the tune conjures that moment in time vividly. Four years further down the line, I can imagine it will still do the same.

In the end, our lives are built out of lots of inconsequential things, the kind of things that, sat in front of a blank diary, we probably wouldn’t have recorded, but years later, take on a far stronger power in memory than we could ever have imagined.

Mind you, it doesn’t always work. A few pages over, the question is ‘Who do you think is cute?’ I’ve put a couple of answers, and a line of explanation, but one of the names says ‘Max’ and I have absolutely no memory of who that is.


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