Tuesday, 30 October 2007


The Northern Herald, Curly’s Corner Shop, Rossinisbird – all examples of pretty good local blogs and diaries covering the politic, culture and the down right stupid. However, none of the writers involved in such perfect examples of the written prose come any where near one Rev Robert Shields, a resident of Washington, USA, who has sadly passed away at the age of 89. Mr Shields “claim to fame” however, is his chronicling of his life in five minute segments, recording his reflections on God and every visit he made to the toilet. The tome runs to 37.5 million words and fills 91 boxes.

Bizarre? Here's an extract:

Dear diary, it’s Sunday, August 13, 1995 . . .
4.15-7.25am I slept for three hours rather soundly.
7.25-7.30 I sprayed, and puddled and piddled and widdled.
7.30-7.35 I fed the long-haired white cat, Ting, with tinned tuna cat food. She ate the tinned food last night that I had set out yesterday.
7.357.40 I peed again and took a methylpred-nisone tablet.
7.40-8.40 I read the Tri-City Herald, published in Kennewick, Washington 99336... Shannon Faulkner is in The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, as a cadet, the only time in 152 years that a female has been admitted to the ranks. I think she is a snot . . .
8.40-8.45 I filled the humidifying basin mounted over the Futura baseboard heater.
8.45-9.20 I shaved twice with the Gillette Sensor blade for the fourth? or fifth? time. I shaved my neck behind both ears, and crossways of my cheeks too.
9.20-9.25 I drenched my hair with and plastered it down with a scrub brush.
9.25-9.35 I dressed in a pair of black Haband trousers, a Haband white mesh shirt, the Haband blue blazer with simulated silver buttons, eyeglasses, the 14-degree Masonic ring, both hearing aids.
9.35-9.40 I cleaned the cerumen from both my ears and from both hearing aids.
9.40-9.55 I hunted high and low for the recent issues of Time and Newsweek to give to the Seneys, and I was frustrated not to find them

Now call me a traditionalist, but where’s the plot, the intrigue, the character development or more simply, what was the point?
In 1999 the Rev Shields doanted the diary to Washington State University on condition that it not be read for 50 years. Thank God. Between toilet visits he said in 1995

“Some people would say “Well, he’s a nut” May be I am”.

Fifty years may not be enough to change this sentiment!

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