An occasional series in which we randomly browse the recollections of an anonymous diarist

DECEMBER
FRIDAY 2nd Tarquin, my eldest, telephones to say he is arriving from London tomorrow. Slight feeling of dread as last time we spoke I let it slip that I was writing a novel, and he has become so cynical of late that I fear he will be unable to resist gloating at my failure. Take a stroll in the Zoological Gardens, where I bump into Twollet the greengrocer outside the penguin enclosure. He is looking suspiciously the worse for wear, despite the early hour, and is singing to the penguins and strumming what looks like a tiny guitar. He tells me in a slurred voice that it is a ukulele, and is currently all the rage. I resolve to buy one and learn to play it before Tarquin gets here tomorrow.

Today’s new word: Quixotic

SATURDAY 3rd
This ukulele business is much more difficult than I imagined. Twollet, even though drunk, appeared to play it effortlessly, yet I am unable to get even a cursory tune out of the thing.Tarquin is due to arrive at lunchtime,and I am tempted to abandon the whole thing. Return library book, God is Deaf by Romulus Grobblar,practically unread. His prediction in chapter two that “television will never catch on” now makes his ideas seem ridiculous. I take out a film by Mr. George Formby in the hope of picking up some ukulele hints. Tarquin sends me a text, (a fad whichin my opinion will never replace the telegram), to say he won’t arrive until tomorrow. Phew.

New word: Mollification

SUNDAY 4th
Celia Badwig accompanies me to church, where, due to my sitting up until 4am trying to master the basics of the ukulele, I embarrass her by falling asleep during Nearer My God To Thee. I awake singing, after dreaming that I am George Formby in the film Turned Out Nice Again. Oddly, the lyrics of You Can’t Go Wrong In These fit the hymn perfectly, and I hear Twollet’s ribald laughter coming from a pew at the back. Returning home I await Tarquin’s arrival with trepidation.

Today’s new word: Discomposed

MONDAY 5th
Ashamed to say I am hung over,and linger in bed feeling sorry for myself. Tarquin arrived very late Sunday, with a case of Elderberry Liqueur, which he insisted we all try,and then produced, of all things, a ukulele, which he strums, to my great surprise, with a degree of sophistication I never suspected he possessed. I have a vague memory of being encouraged to join in with my instrument, which Tarquin spotted peeking out of the umbrellastand where I had hidden it. As I lie in bed wrestling with these odd recollections, Tarquin enters, ukulele in hand and tells me he is off back to the “smoke”. As a farewell, he sings this song to me, which he claims we jointly composed the night before.

You can never have too many ukuleles
Cos a ukulele likes a bit of fun
They like gambolling together
wearing taffeta and leather
and they can’t do that
if you only have the one.

I suppose I shall have to take his word for it, since I can’t remember a thing
after the third bottle.

New word: Abstemious