'This must be one of the major events of the 21st century': Key dates in history through the eyes of Britain's biggest diarist

Ten key dates from history, as seen through the eyes of John Gadd, who has compiled Britain's longest-running diary.

8 December 1980 - Beatle John Lennon is shot by Mark David Chapman as he returns to his New York apartment.

"After a visit I left at 4.30pm and drove through very dense going home traffic around Luton.  I got lost in Letchworth, but soon found my way back onto the A405.

"A good dinner of veal cordon bleu and a half bottle of Anjou rose."

29 July 1981 - Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer get married at St Paul's Cathedral before an invited congregation of 3,500 - and an estimated global TV audience of 750 million.


"Spent most of the morning in front of the goggle box enjoying the pageantry and so did Alison and Barbara.

"We had a cold lunch when it was all over at 2pm.

"A marvellous wedding and I wish them both well.

"I must say the new Princess of Wales is a stunner and I could gaze at her all day long.

"The wedding dress everybody has been talking about is certainly very lovely, her going away outfit was attractive. Princess Anne looked a bit of a mess - skirt too short and a garish hat.

"The whole affair was a happy wedding - that came across well - and even the queen looked cheerful most of the time."

2 April 1982 - The Falklands War began when Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands.

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


"I'm writing this with ball point pen which I was given for yesterday's talk! Nice of them!!

"Learnt this morning with sadness that Argentina has invaded and taken possession of the Falkland Islands, and it certainly looks as though Margaret Thatcher's lot has been caught with their trousers well and truly down.

"This will do her a great deal of harm and will sink her chances of re-election, which were getting dangerously slim already."


[On This Day: John F Kennedy makes 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech]



8 February 1983 -  Irish racehorse Shergar was stolen from the Ballymany Stud, near The Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland by masked gunmen.

"Still that vicious cutting wind form the north north east and the one disadvantage of our house on the chalk downs is that it is very exposed to easterly winds and it's a struggle to keep it warm despite the insulation, double glazing and draft exclusion, when a 40 mph wind blows straight down from the Salisbusy Plain. Thank goodness for the logs."

9 November 1989 - The beginning of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"Up at 5.30 and a beastly wet day. Took typing in to Mary.  Just dug in and worked all day until it was time to collect Barbara from Salisbury station off the 6.30.

"She had a good break bless her.

"We stopped off for a feed at the King John pub to save her cooking a meal."


[On This Day: Nelson Mandela released from prison after 27 years]



11 February 1990 - Nelson Mandela released from prison after being held for 27 years.

"Cold rough and very wet again.  Alison arrived off duty at 4.30am and let herself in.  I fiddled around all day.

"Tim and Pat Robinson came to lunch. Alison was on good form and cheered them up no end.  Barbara had the inspired idea of offering them a spare ticket to Covent Garden this Wednesday.


31 August 1997 - Diana Princess of Wales dies in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, alongside boyfriend Dodi Fayed.

"Got up reasonably early to walk the dogs as rain is forecast.

"Going up Mill Street I switched on the car radio and listened delusionary to some press journalist going on about the pros and cons of paparazzi.

"I was then utterly stunned to hear that Princess Diana had been killed in Paris. Getting to the car park I let the dogs out and stood by the open door listening incredulously to the news.

"Home then to break the news to Barbara and to switch the TV on."


[Groom-to-be chooses best man by setting mates 12 challenges over two YEARS]


30 June 1998 - Beckham turns from hero to villain when he is sent off against Argentina and England go on to lose the game, during the 1998 World Cup.

"Back to lunch and in the afternoon researching the archives.

"This took all of three hours would you believe.  I wonder if it is appreciated in full.  We do a lot of free work for people in the archive society."


11 September 2001 - 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

"I'm sitting here in front of TV set hardly able to believe my eyes at the dreadful but hypnotically beautiful pictures of the carnage at the World Trade Centre Towers in Manhattan collapse after two aircraft had deliberately crashed into them.

"Those poor people! No one knows how many of the 50,000 for god's sake we're probably in the building when the first plane hit, or how many managed to get out before the tower collapsed.

"This must be one of the major events of the 21st century and will shake America to the core.  At present I cannot really take in."

20 October 2010 - Kate and William get engaged while on a private holiday to Kenya.

"Last week I noticed some decent brash - fallen timber - in Nettonfield. I took the wheelbarrow about 500 or so yards and brought a load home."