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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Diary of a 1940s teenager

I rediscovered my mum's teenage diary the other day. Actually, it's a transcript she made of her own diaries which she'd written in small pocket-size books from 1948 when she was 13.

While they don't offer too much in the way of her inner thoughts (well, there's not a lot of room to write much in a tiny pocket diary!), together they give an insight into the life of a teenager in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

I'm amazed how often she went to the "pictures" or cinema - sometimes twice or three times a week. She often adds a comment as to what she thought of the film, too. Her entry of 17th February 1951, a Saturday, reads, "Went to see [THE] Woman in Question. Awful". It was a mystery drama and starred Dirk Bogarde, one of her actor heroes. I wonder what she didn't like about it?

Later in the year she went to see Random Harvest , staring Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman about a WW1 shell-shocked soldier suffering from amnesia. She made no comment on this film but I know she loved it, as did my gran who, in later years, wrote to the BBC begging them to screen it on TV. We watched it many times when we were children - a lovely story and perfect viewing for a wet Sunday afternoon!

The diaries begin while she's still at school and go through her nursery nurse training, her first employment posts and end, rather neatly, when she meets my dad in 1954.

In her last entry she writes, "Exciting quick year. Wonder where I shall be this time next year!!!"

Ah, bless... She'll be engaged to my dad and married the year after that!


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