“Dear Wilbur…”

Rosie and Owen said they’d sort out the clutter in the loft today. They pulled everything out of cupboards into a huge mess of stuff (and more stuff). When I got back from work we sorted through it.


What a load of rubbish. And memories.

A few (of so many) highlights; my Kate Bush fan club card, 500 francs from the Central African Republic, a load of charcoal life drawings, my autograph book (including Arthur Askey and Daley Thompson), old school textbooks covered in waxed paper and an old laptop we decided to keep for comedy value. The LOL Laptop as it was renamed.

Then there was my battered old case of birthday cards and letters. We chucked the cards. Well apart from 18th and 21st birthdays. And handmade ones from the kids.

Various diaries also turned up spanning several years. Didn’t realise I was such a diarist to be honest.

“OMG Mum, you’re so lame..” muttered Rosie, leafing through them. “Woke up. Washed my hair. Walked to school…Watched Angels, went to bed…

1982 quickly became the favourite. From March 2nd, I started writing it as though I was writing to a mate from my old school.  I’ll save the details for another day other than to say this shift meant there were a lot of exclamation marks and I signed off entries “TTFN, Sara!”  On May 5th I switched to writing to an imaginary person, ‘Wilbur’, ending each entry with “Well that’s about it for now! Sara.” By the end of May, I reverted back to type. Thank goodness.

Rosie read out several entries, howling with laughter. Then we got back on with the job. Head first in dirty boxes.

OMG Mum. Stamps!!! You.were.a.stamp collector?????

Nuff said.








My diary (2); Christmas Day

Browsed a bit more of my diary this afternoon. I was waiting to upload some photos and it sort of called to me from its recent position under my computer screen. Next to the packet of Rajah Extra Hot Chilli Powder and the spotty sock.

The page fell open at ‘Christmas Day’. Wow. Now this should be a cracking entry. We always had a great Christmas Day as kids. All that excitement, atmosphere, lovely food and fun. Always fun times.

The verbatim entry;

Christmas Day

Up at 6.30. Opened stocking – Yorkie, tic tacs, book, paper clip, piggy bank, make up, biro, rubber, Abbey National notebook.

Went downstairs. Cup of tea. Unwrapped pressies – cardi, Parker pen and biro, Barry Manilow* LP, Ludlum book, Neil Diamond single, record cleaner, Bogeyman book, Pooh calendar.

Brekky. Got dressed. Listened to Barry Manilow LP. Read book. Had orange drink then Florida Orange. Listened to Beach Boys, Paul Simon, The Police. Tracey worked.

Christmas dinner. Afterwards watched TOTP with No.1s. Bit of George and Mildred, Putting on the Ritz (Fred Astaire), James Bond (Man with the Golden Gun). Went upstairs to my room. Downstairs. Watched Airport 75 -terrible. Bed.

Eh? Where is everyone? Where’s the excitement? The drama? The interaction? The fun?

Why did I keep a daily record of my life based on stuff, the TV I watched and daily activities like waking up and going to bed?

Mind boggling and hilariously, weirdly, odd.

*I ain’t gonna apologise for Bazza. I loved him then and I still do. Mr Ultimate Cheese with the mysterious background. I do wonder about the Abbey National notebook and Neil Diamond single though. 

Silliness, crime and the clothes swap

Back to the overland trip and a tale of (more) silliness, crime and a clothes swap. So, the truck is in West Africa, parked up in Lome where, for the first time since leaving Chalfont St Peter, a couple of months before, we were going to camp for seven nights on the coast while some truck repairs were done.

Whooo hooo!!!! It was great. Beautiful sea, lovely people (especially the kids), a chance to wash off some dust and enjoy not driving for 10 hours a day, every day. Because we didn’t pack up after a night, as usual, the bizarre landscape of our malaria nets, rigged up from makeshift lines, became visible.

Brad was happy, as he was reunited with his beloved ocean, and there was (rare) harmony in the group. Mid week, Geeky Chris and Lucy returned from town excited. They’d met a lovely brother and sister in the supermarket, gone to their house and swapped clothes.  Lucy had a beautiful West African pagne she’d swapped for a Top Shop t-shirt.

Continue reading

The stinky goat and the power shower

I didn’t know anything about ethnography when I signed up for this overland trippet all those years ago (for the previous episode click here), but it was a missed opportunity to explore how a group of strangers live together in a mobile unit, in/across unfamiliar spaces with a changing cast of additional characters.  Some of whom were quite short-lived.

Continue reading

Talking about a revolution

June 11, 1988. The Nelson Mandela Wembley concert was live on TV.  Tracy Chapman was haunting. The following week an ad in the back of Time Out, advertising a trip from England to Kenya. A couple had bought an old Bedford truck and were looking for passengers.

September 21st, 1988. About twenty of us set off from their gaff at Chalfont St Peter.


Fucksie me.

Continue reading