I have a calendar on the wall, a diary in my bag, even a diary on my phone to keep track of appointments to be kept. I am just not very good at co-ordinating them.
I go to the dentist, for instance, and they say: ’Next appointment in 6 months?’ and I gaily say, yes, yes, any day in March/April/May (or whenever it is - I can’t possibly have anything booked that far away, goodness me, 6 months is half a year away!) So we agree a date, and I write it down on the back of a receipt because I can’t find my diary, and I don’t want to make a fool of myself looking to find out where the diary is on my phone because I rarely use it. I then get home, track down the diary (on my desk usually, or maybe it was hidden in the bottom the bag) and blow me, I find that same day, even at the same time sometimes, I have a hairdresser’s appointment or a day when someone I haven’t seen in 3 years is coming to stay. Then I check the calendar on the wall, to double-check you understand, and find that the day is right, but the month is wrong, so that involves even more checking to see where I had gone wrong. I am just disorganised.
I keep old diaries too, some have passwords for linen companies I once bought sheets from, or branch codes for banks I no longer use, rescue codes for various email accounts, or the date when I first took the dog to the vet. I know that as soon as I chuck it out, there will be something important in there. The date we were supposed to go and see Status Quo in Dublin in February 2009 is in there - we didn’t go because I put my back out the night before and we ended up giving the tickets away. Why should I keep a note of that? To make myself feel bad? There are lots of crossings out too, Microsoft and Google are ones that have had umpteen passwords entries, where I have changed passwords for whatever reason, only to find there aren’t enough capitals in it, or not enough symbols, or I used my mother’s birthdate and they say it has been used before.
Last year’s calendar is still on the wall too, just in case I miss someone’s birthday, plus the one from the people who deliver my gas cylinders - the latter because, well, the whole year can be seen at a glance and the pictures are nice.
My diary is nice this year too, too big for my handbag, a nice spiral bound affair with a week-per-page-view, each week interspersed with beautiful photos of Holland (a gift from a Dutch friend who visited). The only trouble is that the days of the week are in four different languages, so that takes some working out - thankfully Monday is always top of the first page, or I would be in a mess.
Juggling ‘moveable’ dates is a nightmare, for instance, some things happen every four weeks regularly as clockwork, others are once a month, you would think the same, but some months are longer than others and the dates shift just enough to confuse me. Easter is another – why don’t they make it the same dates each year for heavens’ sake.
I keep all these things because my memory is going like everything else! But I have one diary that is a wonderful read - it is a day-to-day account for pretty much all of the year we first moved to Portugal, from the day we walked across a puddled airport, the struggles opening a bank account, how we (finally) got the internet hooked up, and the joy of finding such beautiful beaches almost on our doorstep. But don’t ask me what year it was, I didn’t note it down.
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.