4:42pm Wednesday 26th May 2010
By Nione Meakin
The opportunity to peek at the diaries of public figures couldn’t be passed up – at least not by the scores of people who filled the Pavilion Theatre.
The University of Sussex’s Mass Observation archive asked novelist and critic Margaret Drabble and barrister Philippe Sands QC to keep a detailed account of what turned out to be a momentous May 12.
While Drabble was holed up in the British Library, Sands, a Lib Dem advisor, was abused by friends and family about having “turned Tory”. Former Labour MP Oona King couldn’t be present but sent in a reflective piece reminiscing about her days as one of “Blair’s babes” and detailing her embarrassment at holding up her mobile phone to capture Gordon Brown’s Jaguar departing Number 10.
The exercise generated debate about keeping a diary for public consumption. Sands admitted he felt obliged to make mention of all three of his children; Drabble said she wanted to write about making soup for an ill friend but thought it would look self-congratulatory.
Pertinent points were made about the way blogs and social networking sites are affecting the way we document our lives.
Drabble, warning of the power of recorded words, described how she learnt to wipe her PC’s hard drive – by smashing it to bits with a hammer.
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