Always I longed to write, but there was something missing. Only in my letter writing and MO have I found fulfilment of my girlhood yearning to write.
Browsing in Waterstone's biography section last weekend I picked up Nella Last's Peace, flicked through it, then became increasingly engrossed in Nella's diary entries and had to buy it. Nella Last was a housewife. One of many volunteers who kept a diary for the Mass Observation social organisation set up in 1937.
Nella embodies the 'make do and mend' austerity spirit. She writes about day-to-day life during the war and post-war years -the VJ (Victory in Japan) celebrations, managing her ration books, running a household, working for voluntary organisations and there are amusing anecdotes about her Siamese cat, Shan We, who accompanies her on picnics to the Lake District and her annoying neighbour, Mrs Atkinson, who constantly borrows her jam pan.
I've become increasingly interested in life writing. Nella was not a professional writer or an academic and yet her diary has literary qualities. Well-read, politically aware and finding fulfilment - and to a certain extent an escape from her mean-spirited husband - in her voluntary work and friendships with other women, Nella Last's diaries are an absorbing read.