Friday, August 13, 2010

Derek at 50

Derek as 007

If you're new to this blog, please click here to find out why the diaries of a local government officer called Derek have become so popular.

This week's installment begins in 1981 - the year of Charles and Diana, inner city riots and New Romantics. Apart from a brief entry about the virtues of bringing back capital punishment (presumably for rioters rather than New Romantics), Derek has very little to say about current affairs. However, he isn't completely cut-off from the cultural zeitgeist:

'I bought Brenda a record yesterday: the theme music by Vengalis (sic) from the film "Chariots of Fire". Marvellous music it is - the sort that fills one with heroic visions and deep thoughts that bring tears. We like it very much.'

Like the other volumes of Derek's diary, this one is largely a chronicle of the internecine squabbles within his local Mormon church, with frequent references to admonishments and expulsions. I had no idea that the Mormon church were so pedantic. Given the efforts that they put into converting people, I'd naively assumed that abstinence from alcohol and a liking for the Osmonds would be enough to guarantee liftetime membership of the Mormons. I was wrong.

One of the curious things about Derek's diaries is how normal and mundane they can seem until suddenly, without any warning, he'll casually mention that he is stocking up on tinned food because he is expecting the End Times. This seems to be the prism through which Derek views the world. When some local boys vandalise a playground, it is sign of Satan's growing power:

'When it comes to having an evil brood of children, Mr Supter's two adopted children must surely take the prize. They fulfill to the letter the Apostle Paul's prophecy about children in the last days being "disobedient to parents and without natural affection".'

Derek and Brenda also hold some unconventional views about the age of the Earth - one of the books I inherited from Derek's library asserts that dinosaurs and humans coexisted a few thousand years ago. When Brenda decides to do an environmental studies course, this leads to some lively exchanges with her lecturer:

'Brenda attended her class last night. Much of it is based on the theory of evolution, and that really gets up her nose; but she does not let it pass unchallenged. Her lecturers will come to dread her arrival before the course is over. One of them was expounding the theory of tectonic plates, and asserted that the British Isles were not only moving but also sinking. Brenda asked whether it was not the time to drop anchor!'

Brenda in the 1950s

I was also intrigued by this anecdote from Derek's church:

'This evening has not been an easy one. At seven o'clock I met with Jennifer Griffin at the chapel, and introduced her to the science of psycho-cybernetics. Slowly but surely she is beginning to change for the better.'

During the last few months I've been gradually building a picture of Derek's life. I now know where he grew up, how he fell in love with Brenda and left the Midlands to enjoy a new life in the West Country, but there was one thing that kept nagging. On the strength of Derek's diary entries, he enjoyed a good relationship with his son and they enjoyed many activities together, but I couldn't help feeling that something was missing. Today I found the answer:

'Richard is, despite his handicap, a witty lad who comes out with some priceless remarks on many occasions. Last Saturday morning, he came into our bedroom and had his usual preoccupation with death. As we discussed the matter, I pointed upwards and told him that he was too young to go up there. Quick as a flash he said "Up on the moon?" Later in the same discussion he said, "I want to go up where Jesus are." You and me both, son!

Sometimes we go a little mad and, hand in hand, leave the house by the back door and walk down the street to the front door and there ring the bell persistently until Brenda or her mother answers. We did this on Satuday morning in our slippers. As we were walking down the pavement, he burst out laughing, and when I queried the matter said "Look at my feet". I did, and they were slipperless. I looked back up the street; and there the slippers were sitting in the middle of the pavement like a couple of orphans.

Though he demands much patience, one cannot imagine life without him. He is a joy and delight in so many respects. We love him dearly. We have been well-blessed in that his health is not the problem that it was. Even so, his life is a precarious one. We thank the Lord for him from day to day.'


When Derek wrote this entry, Richard has just celebrated his 20th birthday.

The volume ends with fleeting references to the Falklands Conflict, before finishing with this brief paragraph:

'Today Brenda and I celebrate 25 years of married life together, which in these cynical times is a real achievement! This weekend the whole family are coming down to celebrate the event; ironically I shall not be there; I shall be at the Priesthood meeting in Manchester.

And what shall I say of those years now past? Have they been a blissful ecstacy? By no means. Each one of them has been a test and a trial. Were it not for the testimony of the Gospel and the sacred covenants made at the altar of the temple, I am sure that our marriage would have failed. I thank God that despite the difficulties of the past, we do live in peace together and enjoy many things together.'

After reading this, I picked up a volume from 1955 and was touched by this passage:

'This evening Brenda and I lay in the churchyard and muttered to each other. She has had her hair done and looks wonderful. I am not going back. I am going to set up a home - with an open door - and I am going to marry the girl. I have an eternity in which to live with Brenda.'

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Mormonism explains a lot about Derek and his many hangups. One of the engineers in my husband's office was a Mormon, and we learned some fascinating things about the faith from him.

It is a very conservative and repressive religion. There was a case a few years ago in Utah where the Latter Day Saints excommunicated a woman because she had the audacity to run for public office and win. And when they asked her to give up her position and she didn't, they kicked her out of the church.

Mormonism is also one of the few religions which believe that only men go to Heaven. If your wife dies, she goes into limbo. You can remarry and carry on without her, and when you die, you have the option of inviting your first wife and your second (or not) into Heaven. But there is no way either woman can get there on her own, no matter how many good works they do.

The proscriptions of the Church of Latter Day Saints are many and varied. In addition to the no alcohol, these include the wearing of special underwear -- this was a cause of much amusement and speculation when Steve Young, who was quarterback of the San Francisco 49'r's admitted that yes, he did own the special underwear, and yes, he did wear it every day, even under his 49'r's uniform, on game days.

And though their tabernacles say they are open to everyone, they really aren't. Only a selected few of the elders get past the inner doors into thesanctuary where the font is located. Even if you or I are considering becoming Mormons, we wouldn't be allowed in there until after we had converted. And even then, your chances would be a lot better than mine, because I am a woman.

They also require (not sugget, but require) that you tithe 10% of your income to the church every week. No matter how tight times are, or how much you personally may need the money, 10% has to go to the church. I suppose they might help you out if things got really bad, but I don't know if you can count on it.

The Church of Latter Day Saints is one of the more conservative Christian faiths, and not one I particularly want to be involved with, but boy, can they sing! To wit, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

And the work they have done in collating and preserving genealogical information about Americans is nothing short of amazing. They are a wonderful resource for genealogists because the facts they store in their data banks and vaults deep in the mtns. of Utah apply to everyone even non-Mormons.

Canadian Chickadee

Steerforth said...

Fascinating. My knowledge of the Mormons was limited to the Osmonds (far too wholesome, but I liked Crazy Horses), a tabloid sex scandal and watching the 1940 film Brigham Young when I was in bed with food poisoning.

I had no idea about the underwear and gender issues.

What a strange set of beliefs.

Brett said...

The "stocking up for the End Times" thing is characteristic of the Mormons. The survivalist/militia movement in the U.S. has some Mormon roots.

James said...

Derek's diaries are strange and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them with the world.

I'd also like to add some correction and context to Canadian Chickadee's comments on the topic of the Mormon faith.

I'm a practicing Mormon, and Canadian Chickadee is painting with an awfully broad brush. I'm not aware of this woman who was excommunicated for holding public office. How long ago was that? It seems outlandish to me. I know in the state of Utah we have had Mormon women elected to office several times (in fact, Olene Walker was our Lieutenant Governor for some time, and became 15th governor when Mike Leavitt went to serve in Bush's cabinet. She is a devout Mormon).

Mormonism certainly doesn't teach that only men go to Heaven. That's never been true. The church has had (and continues to have) some gender role issues that are fairly typical of the widespread sexism of most American churches, but never was it doctrine that only men can obtain salvation.

I wear the "special underwear", which is basically a white top and bottom with some symoblic meaning. It's a symbol of a commitment I've made to my faith. I take it off when needed (such as swimming, bathing, etc).

The tabernacle is open to everyone, as are our meething houses. Our temples (which Derek makes reference to occasionally) are the only buildings which require special recommendation from local church leadership to enter. But they are not exclusive to "a few of the elders." My wife and I regularly attend the temple together, and the only place she doesn't go where I go would be the changing rooms (just as I don't go into the women's changing rooms). Speaking of the font, which Canadian Chickadee says is very exclusive, well the font is usually most often visited by 12 year old boys and girls.

The only requirement for temple visits is that you've been a member for about a year and that you're observing the covenants you made at baptism. The temple is a place for quiet meditation and performing sacred ceremonies for our families and our ancestors.

As for the tithing, yes it is a commandment, which is required by may Christian groups (check the Old Testament on that one), but it is not grounds for excommunication. You won't get kicked out of the church for not paying your tithing. It's a personal choice.

I agree that the current cultural milieu of the Mormon faith is one of much conservatism and there are some very unfortunate ideas still perpetuated by the general membership of the church. But the actual doctrines and teachings of the church are about inclusion, forgiveness, and service.

Derek battled with temptations as noted in his diary. One thing that the church (as a society) focuses much on is fidelity to your marriage vows. Family is extremely important in the Mormon faith, and I can understand the repressed feelings that Derek often battled. These hangups are unfortunate, but they're a product of the culture, not the teachings. While the Mormon scriptures are full of harsh dealings for adulterers, they are equally full of hope and forgiveness for anyone at all, regardless of race or gender.

Disclaimer: the church of course still has a lot of issues with homosexuality as do many other Christian groups... I believe this is more an effect of the political times than anything doctrinal. I personally believe that God loves all of his children and that eventually the Church leadership will make policy changes that reflect this. And for the record, I never supported or promoted the Church's position on proposition 8 in California, and was never even bothered by Church leadership for my lack of consent.

If you'd like more insight, I'd be happy to answer any questions at all.

James said...

Derek's diaries are strange and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them with the world.

I'd also like to add some correction and context to Canadian Chickadee's comments on the topic of the Mormon faith.

I'm a practicing Mormon, and Canadian Chickadee is painting with an awfully broad brush. I'm not aware of this woman who was excommunicated for holding public office. How long ago was that? It seems outlandish to me. I know in the state of Utah we have had Mormon women elected to office several times (in fact, Olene Walker was our Lieutenant Governor for some time, and became 15th governor when Mike Leavitt went to serve in Bush's cabinet. She is a devout Mormon).

Mormonism certainly doesn't teach that only men go to Heaven. That's never been true. The church has had (and continues to have) some gender role issues that are fairly typical of the widespread sexism of most American churches, but never was it doctrine that only men can obtain salvation.

I wear the "special underwear", which is basically a white top and bottom with some symoblic meaning. It's a symbol of a commitment I've made to my faith. I take it off when needed (such as swimming, bathing, etc).

The tabernacle is open to everyone, as are our meething houses. Our temples (which Derek makes reference to occasionally) are the only buildings which require special recommendation from local church leadership to enter. But they are not exclusive to "a few of the elders." My wife and I regularly attend the temple together, and the only place she doesn't go where I go would be the changing rooms (just as I don't go into the women's changing rooms). Speaking of the font, which Canadian Chickadee says is very exclusive, well the font is usually most often visited by 12 year old boys and girls.

The only requirement for temple visits is that you've been a member for about a year and that you're observing the covenants you made at baptism. The temple is a place for quiet meditation and performing sacred ceremonies for our families and our ancestors.

As for the tithing, yes it is a commandment, which is required by may Christian groups (check the Old Testament on that one), but it is not grounds for excommunication. You won't get kicked out of the church for not paying your tithing. It's a personal choice.

I agree that the current cultural milieu of the Mormon faith is one of much conservatism and there are some very unfortunate ideas still perpetuated by the general membership of the church. But the actual doctrines and teachings of the church are about inclusion, forgiveness, and service.

Derek battled with temptations as noted in his diary. One thing that the church (as a society) focuses much on is fidelity to your marriage vows. Family is extremely important in the Mormon faith, and I can understand the repressed feelings that Derek often battled. These hangups are unfortunate, but they're a product of the culture, not the teachings. While the Mormon scriptures are full of harsh dealings for adulterers, they are equally full of hope and forgiveness for anyone at all, regardless of race or gender.

Disclaimer: the church of course still has a lot of issues with homosexuality as do many other Christian groups... I believe this is more an effect of the political times than anything doctrinal. I personally believe that God loves all of his children and that eventually the Church leadership will make policy changes that reflect this. And for the record, I never supported or promoted the Church's position on proposition 8 in California, and was never even bothered by Church leadership for my lack of consent.

If you'd like more insight, I'd be happy to answer any questions at all.

James said...

Derek's diaries are strange and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them with the world.

I'd also like to add some correction and context to Canadian Chickadee's comments on the topic of the Mormon faith.

I'm a practicing Mormon, and Canadian Chickadee is painting with an awfully broad brush. I'm not aware of this woman who was excommunicated for holding public office. How long ago was that? It seems outlandish to me. I know in the state of Utah we have had Mormon women elected to office several times (in fact, Olene Walker was our Lieutenant Governor for some time, and became 15th governor when Mike Leavitt went to serve in Bush's cabinet. She is a devout Mormon).

Mormonism doesn't teach that only men go to Heaven. That's never been true. The church has had (and continues to have) some gender role issues that are fairly typical of the widespread sexism of most American churches, but never was it doctrine that only men can obtain salvation.

I wear the "special underwear", which is basically a white top and bottom with some symoblic meaning. It's a symbol of a commitment I've made to my faith. I take it off when needed (such as swimming, bathing, etc).

The tabernacle is open to everyone, as are our meething houses. Our temples (which Derek makes reference to occasionally) are the only buildings which require special recommendation from local church leadership to enter. But they are not exclusive to "a few of the elders." My wife and I regularly attend the temple together, and the only place she doesn't go where I go would be the changing rooms (just as I don't go into the women's changing rooms). Speaking of the font, which Canadian Chickadee says is very exclusive, well the font is usually most often visited by 12 year old boys and girls.

The only requirement for temple visits is that you've been a member for about a year and that you're observing the covenants you made at baptism. The temple is a place for quiet meditation and performing sacred ceremonies for our families and our ancestors.

As for the tithing, yes it is a commandment, which is required by may Christian groups (check the Old Testament on that one), but it is not grounds for excommunication. You won't get kicked out of the church for not paying your tithing. It's a personal choice.

I agree that the current cultural milieu of the Mormon faith is one of much conservatism and there are some very unfortunate ideas still perpetuated by the general membership of the church. But the actual doctrines and teachings of the church are about inclusion, forgiveness, and service.

Derek battled with temptations as noted in his diary. One thing that the church (as a society) focuses much on is fidelity to your marriage vows. Family is extremely important in the Mormon faith, and I can understand the repressed feelings that Derek often battled. These hangups are unfortunate, but they're a product of the culture, not the teachings. While the Mormon scriptures are full of harsh dealings for adulterers, they are equally full of hope and forgiveness for anyone at all, regardless of race or gender.

The church of course still has a lot of issues with homosexuality as do many other Christian groups... I believe this is more an effect of the political times than anything doctrinal. I personally believe that God loves all of his children and that eventually the Church leadership will make policy changes that reflect this. And for the record, I never supported or promoted the Church's position on proposition 8 in California, and was never even bothered by Church leadership for my lack of consent.

James said...

Derek's diaries are strange and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them with the world.

I'd also like to add some correction and context to Canadian Chickadee's comments on the topic of the Mormon faith.

I'm a practicing Mormon, and Canadian Chickadee is painting with an awfully broad brush. I'm not aware of this woman who was excommunicated for holding public office. How long ago was that? It seems outlandish to me. I know in the state of Utah we have had Mormon women elected to office several times (in fact, Olene Walker was our Lieutenant Governor for some time, and became 15th governor when Mike Leavitt went to serve in Bush's cabinet. She is a devout Mormon).

Mormonism doesn't teach that only men go to Heaven. That's never been true. The church has had (and continues to have) some gender role issues that are fairly typical of the widespread sexism of most American churches, but never was it doctrine that only men can obtain salvation.

I wear the "special underwear", which is basically a white top and bottom with some symoblic meaning. It's a symbol of a commitment I've made to my faith. I take it off when needed (such as swimming, bathing, etc).

The tabernacle is open to everyone, as are our meething houses. Our temples (which Derek makes reference to occasionally) are the only buildings which require special recommendation from local church leadership to enter. But they are not exclusive to "a few of the elders." My wife and I regularly attend the temple together, and the only place she doesn't go where I go would be the changing rooms (just as I don't go into the women's changing rooms). Speaking of the font, which Canadian Chickadee says is very exclusive, well the font is usually most often visited by 12 year old boys and girls.

The only requirement for temple visits is that you've been a member for about a year and that you're observing the covenants you made at baptism. The temple is a place for quiet meditation and performing sacred ceremonies for our families and our ancestors.

As for the tithing, yes it is a commandment, which is required by may Christian groups (check the Old Testament on that one), but it is not grounds for excommunication. You won't get kicked out of the church for not paying your tithing. It's a personal choice.

Derek battled with temptations as noted in his diary. One thing that the church (as a society) focuses much on is fidelity to your marriage vows. Family is extremely important in the Mormon faith, and I can understand the repressed feelings that Derek often battled. These hangups are unfortunate, but they're a product of the culture, not the teachings. While the Mormon scriptures are full of harsh dealings for adulterers, they are equally full of hope and forgiveness for anyone at all, regardless of race or gender.

The church of course still has a lot of issues with homosexuality as do many other Christian groups... I believe this is more an effect of the political times than anything doctrinal. I personally believe that God loves all of his children and that eventually the Church leadership will make policy changes that reflect this. And for the record, I never supported or promoted the Church's position on proposition 8 in California, and was never even bothered by Church leadership for my lack of consent.

Steerforth said...

Thank you James - that was really interesting. Looking at the diaries again, I can see that people were welcomed back to the church after a set period of time, so the business of excommunication wasn't as draconian as it initially apeared.

Sam Jordison said...

Another heart-breaking post... poor Derek. That contrast between 1955 and the 1980s is so sad. Especially given what we know about their sexual relations and so forth.

The fact that he was a Mormon adds another fascinating layer. Did he ever write about feeling isolated because of his faith Steerforth?

I'm really interested by this thread on Mormonism too. The Church of the Latter Day Saints has some astonishing beliefs at core. I'd recommend reading the Book of Mormon to anyone. So long as you can cope with a bit of "thou"-ing and going forth and so on. You won't believe what you are reading...

... Actually, that's probably a bad way to put it, as some people clearly do. I wrote something about the subject a few years ago in a book I wrote about religions. I don't want to take up too much room with my blah-ing here, but will happily put the material up on my blog and link to it if there's demand...

matt said...

Interesting blog.

Expect more traffic now that some cunt has posted it a to metafilter.


Expect 'awesome' and 'this rocks' comments aplenty.

Steerforth said...

Many thanks for the mention in the Guardian blog - the visitor numbers have shot up. I'm rubbish at promoting this blog, so I really appreciate the link. Hopefully, Derek will now have more "followers".

Did Derek's faith make him feel isolated? Quite the opposite, I think. In addition to the sense of community provided by his local church, Derek appears to have had good relationships with colleagues and neighbours. He did receive the odd ascerbic comment about the Mormons, but generally most people appear to have been quite respectful.

As an incurable non-believer, I can't help envying Derek for his moral certainties and sense of purpose.

Please post the material on your blog - I've become increasingly interested in the Mormons since I started reading Derek's diaries.

In the meantime, if anyone is interested in the book you mentioned, here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sam-Jordison/e/B0034PL7CS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

I only recently realised that you were the author of "Crap Towns" - a book I really enjoyed and heavily promoted when I was a bookshop manager. As my shop was in one of the Crap Towns, I had some great conversations with customers about whether we deserved to be in the book. Nearly everyone said yes and took a peverse pride in being on the list.

Sam Jordison said...

Thanks Steerforth! Here's the link:

http://samdjordison.blogspot.com/2010/08/book-of-mormon.html

I don't have such a positive view of the church as James, unfortunately.

Do you have much of an impression of hos literally Derek took the Book Of Mormon and co, Steerforth. I'm guessing from the way he writes elsewhere that he must have taken it pretty much at face value. Does that seem right?

Since writing that piece I link too I've also travelled to Salt Lake City --- which is a most unusual place. The kind of place where even the soil in the flower beds looks clean. All very antiseptic.

I took the tourist trail round the bits of the temple and co non-members are allowed to see and it was very interesting... Anyone would think it was a Christian church from the way they presented. I guess because they're mainly trying to convert an already Christian US audience. Atheists like myself didn't merit much attention. I'd recommend going all the same. There's a very nice brew-pub not far away too... Although the faithful are sadly unable to use it.

Meanwhile, thanks for the link to The Joy OF Sects too - most appreciated.

And while I'm thanking you, that's really kind about Crap Towns. The promotion it got in bookshops was absolutely fantastic and I'll be forever grateful.

As for the Guardian, it's my pleasure. I hope more people do come to Derek as a result...

And sorry everyone else, this post has been a bit puke-making, hasn't it? Will stop now!

aptronym said...

I discovered your blog yesterday, through the Guardian piece. I just wanted to thank you, as a book lover, for this blog, and tell you that you have a new reader in Sydney.

Grey Area said...

Ah - I think we have all fallen a little in love with Derek over the past few months.

Mormon Tabloid Sex Scandal??? As we are both roughly the same age, you can only mean the 1978 saga of Joyce Mckinney - who kidnapped a Mormon missionary and tied him to the bed, forcing him to have sex with my her before jumping bail and absconding to, I think, Canada - an even that caused the impressionable 12 year old self much excitement, confusion and fascination.

Steerforth said...

Indeed. As my parents were avid News of the World readers, I had an early introduction to the concept of "bondage".

Joyce McKinney disappeared for a couple of decades before resurfacing recently with a new scandal, involving cloning dogs in Korea.

Caroline said...

Thanks for all the information about Mormons and the links.

Derek's journal always makes me feel a bit sad. I get a feeling of quiet despair when reading it.The fact that his journals were discarded after his death too is something I could never have done as a child or a relative, even though I'm not sure if I would have wanted to read it had I been close to him.

I wonder what he would have thought of his writings being posted like this and made known to a much bigger audience than he could have ever imagined.

James said...

Whoa. Sorry for the triple post, guys.

Anonymous said...

The woman who was excommunicated by the Mormon Church was Sonia Johnson. She spoke out in favour of the equal right amendment for women. I stand corrected; she ran for office but did not win.

To read about her, check Wikipedia's entry under "Sonia Johnson."

Canadian Chickadee

The Poet Laura-eate said...

How poignant to discover Derek had a disabled child on top of marital woes, a pessimistic faith which evidently tied him up in knots of angst at every little thing he did, and the burden of feeling his true destiny was as a writer, rather than a civil servant.

Funny how someone can seem so content on the surface, yet evidently seethe with frustrated passions and angsts beneath. It seems his diaries were his only outlet, much as he strove to enjoy what there was of his marriage and evidently adored his mentally disabled son.

I imagine he had his share of female admirers though, if only from afar, much though they appear to have alarmed rather than flattered him! Those look like some pretty serious chastity shorts though!

It would be fascinating to go back in time and meet him for a cup of tea, but knowing what I know of him, he probably would have headed for the hills, refusing to believe my motives were entirely honourable!

Kári Tulinius said...

Hello, I'm the "some cunt" who posted about Age of Uncertainty on MetaFilter. I linked to the blog because I think it's wonderful. Here's my post. And this is my MetaFilter profile, in case you're wondering who I am. You won't need to worry about MeFites (the term for members of the MetaFilter community). We're an articulate lot, more given to overthinking at length than single-word comments. And thanks for writing such a great blog for such a long time. I've been reading backwards through your entries.

mothership said...

Steerforth, I'm SO pleased for you (and Derek) that you got a mention in the Guardian - well deserved!
My heart is breaking for poor old Derek. He clearly loved Brenda so much but was wretched about their lack of emotional (and sexual) intimacy. It's fascinating to hear about the son. I wonder what was wrong with him, exactly, and how much that had to do with the distance between him and his wife - can't have been easy on them. Neither can the Mormonism - it's not a religion that promotes easy understanding between men and women, much as it holds 'the family' in high regard. So very prescriptive.
Anyway, a lovely piece as always and I'm very happy you have more readers which you surely deserve!
On a side note, do you know of a book I have been thinking about that I had as a child about a little old man who couldn't read, and he bought all the wrong things at the supermarket? Used to make me very sad, although I think it was supposed to be a funny cautionary tale..

Steerforth said...

Many thanks for posting the link Kári. I've never had this many hits before.

I've just looked at the MetaFilter site and was very impressed by the perceptive, thought-provoking comments (why does Matt hate it so much?)

To answer a few of the MetaFilter comments:

1. Yes, the blog navigation is terrible. Maybe I could do something with tags to make it easier for people to sort out the wheat from the chaff

2. Derek definitely meant crotch!

3. The confessional element is, initially, unintentional. It's only when I start writing about someone that I realise why their story has touched me

I'm glad that Derek's story has touched so many people. I had mixed feelings about publishing extracts from these diaries, but Derek had put so much hard work into them (literally thousands of typed A4 pages) I felt I had to. I'm sure that he would have been excited to have a worldwide readership!


Laura - I agree. I would love to have a cup of tea with Derek. You're probably right about Derek's reaction - the offer of a caffeine-based drink with a young woman would be beyond the pale.


Mothership - thanks for your kind words. It's great to see the number of hits go up.

I don't recognise the book, but I'll ask around and keep an eye out for anything that fits the description. Was it a normal picture book?

Kári Tulinius said...

I copied your responses to the MetaFilter thread.

Oh, and I hope you find an archive willing to save Derek's diaries for posterity. They are a fascinating document.

Steerforth said...

I've just seen aptronym's comment. Thank you - glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

As someone raised in the Mormon faith (but it didn't "take"), I thought that some clarification of "Mormon speak," might contribute to our understanding of Derek. Mormons use the word "posterity" to describe their children, their children's children, and so on. Those married in the temple ("sealed") are married for "time and eternity." That means both while they are alive and after death. The importance of the family unit is central and partially explains the Mormon interest in genealogy: they will be reunited as families in the afterlife. Church members are actually encouraged to keep journals, not only to preserve their life story for their "posterity," but also in an effort to chart their efforts at self-improvement. Striving for self-improvement is a strong theme in the church. For example, the church's organization for young people used to be called the MIA - Mutual Improvement Association. There is an earnestness to this continual striving for self-improvement which seems,at least to me, to shine through some of Derek's writings. Thanks for posting these excerpts. The Family History Library of the local LDS church would be able to offer advice on where the journal could be donated in order to preserve it.