Britain's longest-running diary still going strong after 66 years - and now contains four MILLION words

Chris Parsons
Yahoo! News.

Dedicated diarist John Gadd has compiled Britain's biggest ever journal - a 66-year epic containing four MILLION words.

John started the diary in 1947, and it has now evolved into a detailed record of his every moment over 21,000 pages.

The 83-year-old's epic tome is made up of 151 volumes, and weighs half a ton.

John, who says he writes about 'whatever has captured my imagination during the day', has now amassed a diary which is four times bigger than the works of Shakespeare.

His diary also contains 33,000 photos, illustrations and cuttings from newspapers and everyday items like wine labels and food wrappers.
 
He spends 20 minutes every day updating his journal and another two hours every weekend arranging and pasting in the illustrations, pictures and cuttings.

And each Christmas he sets aside two weeks to meticulously index that year's diary - proudly claiming he can find anything within three minutes.

John sees his work as a chronicle of life in and around the Dorset village of Fontmell Magna where he lives with wife Barbara.














He said: 'I am just keeping a record in case no one else does and I'm a total obsessive with it.

'It would be a shame to look back in so many years time wishing we knew what had happened, or how something had happened.


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'It settles family arguments too, my wife Barbara and I are always arguing about who we met, when we met them and how old they are.

'I can't stop now, when you've kept it up as long as I have you need to keep going.'

John started keeping his diary on a whim in 1947 and intermittently filled it in for many years until 1975, when he began keeping a detailed daily event log.

He records the minutiae of his daily routine, from the time he gets up to walking the dog and what he has eaten during the day.


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However, it's John's deadpan entries on the days of historical events which are the highlight of his monumental journal.

On the day John Lennon is shot in 1980, he complains of 'very dense traffic around Luton' on his journey home.

Nine years later on the day of fall of the Berlin Wall, John comments about picking up wife Barbara from Salisbury train station.

John describes every village fete, the walks he took with his beloved Yorkshire Terriers, and has amassed a vast collection of his favourite wine labels over the years.

John, who has one daughter, Alison, has captured some of the biggest changes in history - including the switch from Vinyl to CD.

The diaries also include plane tickets, mementos, and photographs of the numerous places he has visited over the years.


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His work took him to more than half the globe, including Japan 15 times, the USA, the Phillipines, Korea and Thailand.

John's diary has grown so big he refers to it as his 'Omnium Gatherum' and says several libraries have offered to exhibit the vast work.

It is also more than three times the length of the diaries of Samuel Pepys, the most famous of them all.

He added: 'In past times many diarists had the time to sketch and paint to add interest to their record. In 1975 I thought I can at least take photos.


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'After all, there is no point in squirreling away all that information in 22,000 pages if you can't retrieve it, and I'm pleased to say any subject or illustration can be found within three minutes.

'I do it because it is fun and it is also useful to show the changes in our village and over Dorset over more than three decades - and to remind you how fickle memory can be.

10 volumes plus index on display this weekend at village hall.

John has now put his diary on public display for the first time. Ten volumes and one index are on show this weekend at the Fontmell Magna Village Archive Society’s 9th annual exhibition, held in the village hall.