Memories of an autobiographer

The Cuckoo coverNever throw away anything you write, however banal it seems – you never know how it may come in useful, as author Tony Bayliss discovered when he came to write the first instalment of his autobiography The Cuckoo

One of my all-time favourite books isThe Diary of a Farmer’s Wife – 1796 -1797. It was written by Anne Hughes, a woman whose existence would be unknown to us had her diary not been found under floorboards over a hundred and fifty years later.

It’s an account of how Anne lived in a small English village at the end of the eighteenth century. She makes no mention at all of the wider world, perhaps because communications were so poor in those days that she felt remote from it all; indeed, the village WAS her world. Had the title not already been used, I suppose ‘Diary of a Nobody’ would seem appropriate, except that none of us is a nobody: we each have a story to tell.

Most of us think that our lives are not worth writing about – who would be interested? Anne Hughes certainly thought that, and was writing to herself, as do most diarists, but every page is filled with fascinating information and insights into the life she lived.

It’s more than fifty years since I wrote my first diary and, like Anne Hughes, I wrote it to myself, having no idea that the passing years might make it interesting to readers from the future. I was ten-year-old boy, coping with the break-up of my parents’ marriage, my emerging sexuality, and feeling at odds with my dysfunctional family. I was the proverbial cuckoo in the nest, hence the title I have given to the memoir. Continue reading