000 My life, already

Why me, why now?

How much do you know about your parents’ life? Probably less than you think. Your grandparents? Probably not very much. Your great-grandparents? In most cases, nothing at all. And in most cases we don’t realise this until it’s too late to ask them.
So I am writing this now; but of course this poses problems. A large part of my life is, I hope, still to come; so, when I’ve done all this, should I update it regularly with a diary or a blog? Or maybe produce a personal Annual Report at the end of each year?
There is a cautionary tale in John Peel’s autobiography. He began work when he was about 60 with every expectation of finishing the job, but several things went wrong. One was, that, having got some way into the job, he accidentally deleted the whole thing and had to start again. Another was, that he was trying to write his book in odd moments inbetween the serious business of working himself to death. As a result, two-thirds of the book ended up being written by his widow, who, fortunately, turns out to be a fine writer herself.
I have learned several things from this. I have no plans to find myself a highly literate wife, partner, companion or mistress, so I had better get myself well organised. Secondly, I must avoid working myself to death. I think I can manage this. Thirdly, I must allow for the fact that, as no-one is likely to round off work when I can no longer do it, I shall have to put my text together in such a way that it can break off at any time without seeming to be a torso. And lastly, I must keep it in a very safe place (viz. the Internet) where I cannot accidentally destroy it.
The third point is the one that will make all of this look a bit odd. Most autobiographies start with “I was born in…” and proceed in chronological order to “Now that I have retired…” but there are several reasons for doing it a different way. The main one is that in an average life things don’t happen in a tidy order; there’s a bit of study, then a bit of career, then a bit of real life, then perhaps a bit more study, and so on. And when you reach the present day, you think it’s all over, which, of course, it isn’t.
So I shall divide things up into subjects, each with a page of its own, such as “Music in my life” or my opinions on various subjects. And of course, being a librarian, I shall give each page an appropriate number, which will be good practice for me, and an intriguing puzzle for you. It will also be a handy tool against writer’s block; I can pick a number, see what it means, and decide what I think about whatever it is. I insist this will be fun for all of us; but don’t expect anything too lively on page 176.


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