THE art of the diary is dead, long live the diary. It seems that the vanity project of creating a permanent record of your daily life is no longer something which must be contained in leather-bound, padlocked, stuffed-under-the-mattress pages. To blog is to be.
Weblogs, or blogs (web diaries), are the recordings of the great, and not necessarily so great, of modern society. Anyone can set up a web page and fill it with their daily musings, links to a few of their favourite things and a little too much detail about their private life if they are so inclined. Not only do millions of people do it, millions more log on to read it.
I don’t think my father and Samuel Pepys have ever been mentioned in the same sentence, nor are they likely to be again, but he (my father) is someone I see teetering on the edge between old-school pen to paper and the publish-and-be-damned mentality of your casual blogger. Not only is Pa Leith broadband-friendly and wired for sound in his wee hoose in the hills, but he spends more time on the internet than I do, and I spend almost two-thirds of my week plonked in front of a computer terminal. Dad is very much a citizen of the global village, perhaps more so than he is of the one down the road, Fochabers.
Pepys, probably the most famous diarist ever, was a man in the middle of the action - whether that was in his role as the "right hand of the Navy" or being arrested on suspicion of Jacobite tendencies in the late 17th century.
Father, in comparison, is a man usually found in the middle of a tattie field. He has filled reams worth of diaries over the quarter of a century he has been harvesting the same square patch. A typical entry plucked at random might read: "Dry, ploughing, Fiona turned seven today." Beckett doesn’t have a look in.
Dad’s prose may not rival that of the great commentators of the day, but it is an example of unconsciously honest writing that is in danger of disappearing as the pressure to be the world’s best blogger increases.
Such crippling honesty must be a family trait. On returning home from school as a teenager, I was met by my stern-faced mother standing in the kitchen. "Do you swear?" she asked. "No?" I gulped. "Do you swear?" she persisted. "No?" I squeaked, only for my diary to be flung across the room at me, falling open at the offending page. "I hate f***ing hoovering", it read. The offending article and my good self were relegated to the sin bin for a very long time. The fact that she had poked into my, however infantile, privacy was never a matter for discussion.
"It hardly rivals Alan Clark for salacious revelations," I hear you hiss, but it put an end to what could have been a blossoming career of vitriolic, anti-domesticated diary ramblings pre-dating those of a certain Ms Jones and the rash of tiresome twentysomething newspaper column impersonators since.
If all that Melanie Griffith’s blog can offer as insight into her existence is "This is my favourite time of year!", I almost feel moved to compete. Publish and be damned? So be it.