"From within my worldly pleasures, being able to write is probably the one that most preserves my sanity and gives my existence an added meaning. Having been an avid reader for most of my life, along with being a student of British history, I have always been fascinated by the practice of keeping a diary by both men and women. There are too many famous diarists to mention, but imagine the loss to the world of literacy and history had pen not been put to paper during moments of greatest secrecy.
An old lady called Etta, who became my 'adopted mother' after the death of my own mother, lived as a spinster until the age of 94 years. Among her many treasured possessions was her diary that I read after her death. All of her life, Etta, who was the youngest and only girl of two children, was expected to look after her invalid and bed-confined mum, besides keeping house for her strict father and brother. She rarely had any leisure time for herself throughout her week and was not allowed the freedom of mixing with other children of her own age outside school hours. She loved only one man in her life; a serving soldier who she kept secret from all others except one close friend. The couple planned to marry when the 'Second World War' was over, but her sweetheart soldier was killed in action and Etta was left to mourn in private.
Upon reading Etta's diary, one entry as a young woman in her late teens made a profound impression on me as to the importance of diary keeping for many similar girls of her day. I don't know if the words written were hers or of another which she'd read and copied, but they are so poignant:
August 4th, 1936
'I write of things in my secret book that no one would believe if I told them. I write my most secret thoughts, both good and bad and some of the body feelings that I cannot yet understand. My diary is my imaginary friend who will never lie to me or tell me anything that I do not wish to hear yet will always accept unquestioningly what I tell it. My diary will never impose its thoughts on me as I am able to open and close it at will. I can even change my mind today about something I thought yesterday and if I don't feel like picking up my pencil and instead pick daisies, my diary will not be offended. It will understand. When I write something that on reflection shouldn't have been expressed, I can simply take it back by crossing it out. I love my diary.'" William Forde: August 2nd, 2017.