So I crumbled. I managed a week in the tiny diary then scurried back to my A5 like a hermit seeking the sanctuary of his cave. I feel as if I should have given the different size more of a chance, but from the moment I moved into it I was thinking about how to add other elements to make it into something I’d enjoy using, elements which would turn it from something nice and small and portable into something almost as bulky as my A5. I basically wanted the experience I have enjoyed with the A5 diary in a smaller footprint, and that was never going to be a realistic scenario.
The mini diary was fine for recording headlines – an appointment, an item or two that I wanted to get done that day. There was room for a weekly quote so long as it was no more than a single line – quite an interesting challenge. I’ve seen photos and videos of people making the space look infinite by filling it with miniscule writing, but that is never going to be my way. My space needs to adapt to suit my writing, not the other way around.
What the mini format really lacked was room for non-essentials or, as I think of it, room to dream. Somewhere to write a list of things I’d like to accomplish that week, but probably won’t, reminders of how important it is to read and do a bit of writing, a proper quote, a list of random items that caught my eye. All the non-essentials that turn life from toil to twinkle.
Not only did I hare it back to my A5, I then went overboard adding stickers to this week’s spread and that made me very happy indeed.
Whilst this set back my attempts to lighten the load somewhat, I am not too concerned. Splitting my daily carry between two hand-held bags seems to have eased the strain on my shoulder; I even carried my work laptop home on Friday night without too much in the way of twinges.
I set aside a fair amount of time for reading and finished the novel I was immersed in on Thursday. So my bus journeys on Friday gave me a chance to start the Simon Armitage poem. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. I thought it might be a bit dry as it is so long. I am glad to say I was very wrong. I smiled all the way to work, charmed by the wordplay. This is actually a translation/adaptation of the Alliterative Morte Arthure and if you’re partial to a bit of alliteration, this has it in buckets. Buckets bedecked with boisterous bells, in fact. Buckets from Berlin, Budapest and Bognor. Buckets beloved by Sir Bedevere himself.
In the introduction to the poem, Simon Armitage writes “Stock phrases and alliterative formulations are repeated again and again; to the medieval mind they might have provided a kind of reassuring continuity or even glue by which the story hung together, but to the contemporary reader they often seem slack or unnecessary.” This brought to my mind something which the historian Michael Wood covered in one of his “In Search Of” programmes many years ago (almost certainly In Search Of Troy). He was looking at the oral tradition of story-telling and how the use of repeating word patterns makes it easier to learn and to follow a story. Just as a piece of music will come back to certain melodies again and again, as songs have a chorus, as comedians have catch-phrases, repetition of stock phrases is an important part of story-telling in a format which you can’t rewind or flick back through. If you establish, for example, that the people of Genoa are giants, then refer back often to the giant Genoans, it creates a very stong link in the minds of the audience.
Now evening is approaching and the flies are gathering which I hope means that my friendly local bat might make an appearance. Whilst I wait, I will settle in and think about my evening meal.