The Awful Truth

I kept a paper diary during 2003, our first year in Scotland. As a teen I’d been an avid devotee of the paper diary, until one day aged seventeen I had an attack of paranoia, convinced that my angsty scribbles were being intercepted by the household authorities. I unceremoniously burned five years of Collins A5 To A Page and vowed never to write again.

But I’m glad I revived the habit for 2003. We didn’t get internet access at home until September so blogging was sporadic. By the time I’d get to an internet cafe, my entries were heavily edited and largely cheery. People constantly reminded me how lucky we were to have this opportunity, thus I was loathe to focus on any negatives less I be told I was an ungrateful arse.

So the paper diary tells the real story of the ups and downs of moving to the other side of the world. It’s uncensored, illegible, whiny, lonely, banal, self-absorbed, scared, obnoxious, bitchy, paranoid, pathetic, and gramatically incorrect.

In the spirit of honesty and laughing at oneself, here is a few selected high(low)lights. WARNING: Angst and self-pity ahead!


25 March – Have packed up entire life. Never thought would happen. Doesn’t seem like a “Shauna” thing to do, does it.

Clearly crapping my pants here!


March 28 – Flight [from Frankfurt] to Edi was uneventful, Rhi and I reminisced about Aussie food.

We’d been away from Oz less than 48 hours and we were already getting misty-eyed on about Australian cuisine! Priorities, man.

The next day I wrote in Edinburgh, “Every shop seems to sell pre-made sandwiches wrapped in plastic. Must be all they eat over here.”


April 1 – Got our first taste of Scots rain today. Went out to library and it just PISSED down. Nicked into Boots to get brolly. Fuck everything is so expensive. £15 = $45 for brolly. Then Rhi leaves hers in the bloody shop.

We almost bawled when we realised we’d left the $45 brolly in the coffee shop where we’d just spent approximately $30 on two hot chocolates and a scone. Three years later, I still can’t break the habit of translating prices back into Aussie dollars. I quite enjoy it in a sick and twisted way.


April 4 – Got up and went to Argos, funny shop. You write down numbers from a catalogue then they get it from ‘out the back’.

There’s something about Argos that is infinitely fascinating to foreigners. I remember when my friend Jenny returned from two years in London, one of the first things she mentioned was her trip to Argos to get a hairdryer, how you just browse the catalogue then the magic elves fetch it from their mystical store cupboard. Momo wrote about it too!

Argos sounds like a Soviet relic where one collects their brown overalls and soap rations, but you can buy anything from a watch to a saucepan to a freaking home gymnasium and somehow it’s all there waiting for you, Out The Back.


April 12 – Americans truly SHIT ME to tears. I try & be openminded, non-judgmental, but every one I have encountered in person this yr has been a loud & annoying FUCKWIT. Our bus trip was full of em today. Went to Loch Ness via Trossachs & Ben Nevis. Pretty cool.

OH DEAR! Now before you send that hatemail, ask yourself – have you ever been tired and cranky and made a gross, sweeping generalisation about a country? If not, I deserve your flaming missive! But please bear in mind I was very new to this tourist caper. I’m quite the diplomat now but that day I was impatient, intolerant and positively seething at a family whose son never once looked up from his Game Boy to admire the scenery, and asked the driver approximately every twenty minutes when were we stopping for more food. Apart from that one family three years ago, I love Americans!


April 28 – Work. Blah blah work. Rhi and I ended up punching each other out of sheer boredom.

Rhi and I worked at the same place for our first Scottish job – data entry. We were quite literally locked away in an attic typing medical information all day long, unsupervised.

After typing for eight hours together, we’d descend the stairs together, catch the bus home together, cook dinner together, sit down to eat together. One of us would say, “How was your day?” and the other would say, “It was shithouse!” and the other would say, “Yeah I know, I WAS THERE!”.

All that tedium and togetherness soon sent us over the edge and we resorted to primitive hair-pulling and assault to pass the time.


May 20 – Went to net cafe & was annoyed to see noone’s commenting these days. Fuckers.

Around this time I was feeling friendless and pathetic, so I clung to my blog as a connection to my treasured Old Life. So a lack of comments or emails would make me mope for days, convinced everyone back home hated me and had moved on. Sob sob… don’t you love how now matter how old you get, you always sound thirteen years old in a paper diary?


June 3 – Tonight was pub quiz @ Baillie in Stockbridge… Rory, Jane, Rhi & David were there, & this guy Gareth. He really grew on me. Very shy smile & soft accent. Quiet sense of humour. Oh I do believe I have a wee crush.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! *gag*


June 6 – Gareth is really sweet & has a lovey accent. Just something about him… Maybe I am just getting a wee bit frisky & lonely?

Yeah? Well maybe you shouldn’t have chucked out your vibrator before you left Australia?


June 20 – We came up the Champs Elysses & there was the Arc de Triomphe, HUGE & so beautiful. Eiffel Tower was cool, & I classily did a fart there. HA! It’s so surreal being in this stinkingly famous place.

This was our first European jaunt! For dinner we ate ham and cheese sandwiches from the supermarket. As we have unimaginatively done in every city we’ve visited since.


July 21 – I’m scoffing chocolate orange. WHY? Because it was on special. OH DEAR.

Rhi and I were flamingly broke in 2003. We were alarmed at how quickly we adopted the Way of the Mothership, buying everything generic or whatever was On Special.


August 5 – News was all about the ‘heat wave’ today. 25 bloody degrees if you’re lucky. Ha!

And still I say, Ha!


August 17 – Oh what a nothing sort of day. Mum called, was nice. Feel a bit homesick lately, disconnected. Was upset by dumb things, like a pissweak bakery section at the supermarket.

It’s always about the bloody food!


Around about this time Rhi and I started working two jobs so we could save enough dosh for our Russia Trip in 2004. The seven-day working week was a real bitch, so all we have now is page after page of exhausted whining. And angsting about boys. I won’t subject you to that!


November 27 – Tonight I bummed around watching stupid reality shows about people leaving the UK. Sure can see now why they do it.

Despite finally hooking up with Gareth earlier that month, I was still a grumpy bastard and clearly struggling to adjust to a Scottish winter!

And now we have another wee gap in proceedings, because every entry is about Gareth and how dreamy he is and how paranoid and insecure I am. You really don’t want to read that!


Now I truly embrace the Inner Teen! After months of anticipation, I had dear friends staying from Australia and the weather gods were conspiring to show them the crappiest time as possible. Every tourist attraction we visited was closed, then Edinburgh’s famous New Years Eve festivities were cancelled due to appalling winds. Plus work was hellish and I hadn’t seen Gareth for days, fuelling my pity party.

December 31 – I just don’t see how he will possibly stay interested in me… But I will try not to wreck it. Please don’t let me wreck it. It really was a good 2003 though. Did a lot of things I never thought I’d do. Now I just need to be optimistic & positive & try harder in 2004.


I bought another diary for 2004. But I quit after three months, when I discovered living the life was much more fun than angstily writing about the life.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for February 2021.

22 thoughts on “The Awful Truth

  1. (Sniff) That was lovely.

    I’ve been feeling a little panicky about being in America lately, and suddenly heard from an old friend who’s in Edinburgh now. It’s disgustingly warm here and I’ve been fantasising about moving to Scotland with all that you’ve said about the cold and the rain… but I guess it’s the same bloody story anywhere in the world if you’re far from home, huh? Or maybe it’s different in Finland.

    Still, I bet Scotland needs me.

  2. I am so copying this – the only difference will be is that it is the diary I kept the year I turned 11.

  3. Ha Ha Ha. I’ve got a diary like this but there’s no way I’m sharing it with anyone, let alone the internet! I keep meaning to burn it ceremoniously, but I like being reminded of who I was back then so I can better appreciate how far I’ve come, because sometimes it feels like ‘not very far’ 🙂 The other day I read about a bar/pub in New York where members of the public can take it in turns to get up on stage and read from their high school diaries. Reliving those hideous moments of self-doubt and introspection and Oh My God He Looked At Me Today And I Nearly Died! up there on stage in front of a crowd of people? Sounds like fun.

  4. Ah, the Living vs. Writing dichotomy. I think we both agree that if you have to choose, the former’s better than the latter, innit hen?

  5. Right on. I’m American and dislike American tourists just about anywhere you find em. Don’t even think about going to Hawaii-unless you like the idea of having planeloads of them, in shorts, dropped off all at once.

  6. I always envied you and Rhi for having the courage to sell up all your prized possessions and take off to a foreign land. I still have your great green bookcase and sieve…hehehe! (And I always thought you were brave leaving behind your great CD collection – thank god for mp3s huh?!) I always lived a little vicariously through your blog, feeling like I was going on your adventures with you. I love how your writing can draw people in that way. It was great seeing you back in OZ last October and meeting Gareth – it was awesome to see how you two just click – very cool! I’m so glad you kept this blog – keep writing, you certainly have a rare talent.

  7. Seriously Charming.

    Stocktaking Time?

    What did the I Ching Say?

    My hand written journal hits the computer after a week. Gives me a chance to clarify my langauge.

    My wife wonders why I bother.

  8. I haven’t managed to keep a diary since I was about seven (and encouraged to do so by my mum). Except for a few months when I was living in Brussels – must be something about going abroad…

    I think my mum’s still got the baby diaries, but they’re probably writhingly twee!

  9. Heh heh; glad you’ve settled in – Scotland seems to agree with you 🙂 I’ll be celebrating the fifth anniversary of my own move north of the border this year – time goes so fast!

  10. Awww!! Pookie!!
    Come here for a hug!!!

    Happy you’re feeling better now.

    Keep on cr@pping – you’re still the best and I still open your blog every day hopeful of another piece of Shauny art.

  11. This was so wonderful. You are so funny. You have a rare gift for writing, for engaging your readership, for comedy mixed with pathos… I’ve been keeping a diary (handwritten) for 40 years now and I really don’t know why but I can’t stop now. But my early entries (eg probably the first 20 years or so) are REALLY cringeworthy. Maybe I should do the annotation now and make them look like intentional comedy…

    I’m an English teacher and you can’t imagine how excited I get reading the writing of a young person who can write so brilliantly – unlike, I fear, most of my students. I could always blame their teacher, I suppose.

  12. Actually, that “young person” bit sounds awfully patronising. I didn’t mean it like that at all. I just meant “person” (and I happen to know, quite irrelevantly, that you’re not old. You’ll also be able to write fantastically well when you are old).

  13. When I was 7 I wrote a letter to Santa explaining that all I really wanted for Christmas was a diary. My letter was even published in the local paper, the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser, surrounded by letters from other kids asking Santa for Rubik’s cubes, Cabbage Patch dolls and gypsy boots. I always wondered why Santa bothered to send my letter to the paper, but nevertheless on Christmas day I got that diary. It was baby blue and even had a lock and key. I would feverishly write my 7-year-old musings and then lock it and hide the key, being sure to hide the key in a different place each time because of course my whole family were desperate to read my innnermost thoughts (or so i thought). When I was about 13, I found the diary, read it, was mortified at how embarrassing it was, and burned it. If only I could read that diary and remind myself of the 7-year-old I once was, and marvel at her problems, her passions, her hopes and dreams for the future.
    Great entry, Shauna. You truly are a superstar.

  14. Thanks for writing this post. It makes me feel better about my own shelf o’ diaries filled with angsty bleatings.

    I’ve made my family and close friends promise to burn them all unread if/when I die.

  15. I love it! I’m so glad that I’m not the only grown woman whose journal writings continue to be written by her 13-year old self!

    My best friend and I have a mutual agreement to burn any journals and dispose of any parent-inappropriate materials if we should happen to die suddenly and our parents are going to arrive to pack up our apartments. Grieving parents shouldn’t be subjected to such things.

    And I must admit I feel bad that I was too shy to post to your blog!

  16. i’m american, and don’t worry – i know exactly what you mean about them. i did the same trip up to loch ness when i was visiting scotland and i found myself bashing on the spanish. there was a whole group of spanish teenagers on our bus, annoying and chatty and rude. they talked so loud i couldnt hear the tour guide and when we actually got to loch ness they slept on the bus. it was the one day i didnt have to be the token american. oh, the spanish. “they’re worse than americans!”

  17. Heheh, don’t worry, you’re not alone with the angsty teen writing in late 20s. The only problem I have with writing a diary is audience.. like, do I write to impress the 60 year old me looking back on the contrived good times of my late 20s or represent the truth; good, bad and ugly? I suppose if I were as crafty a writer as you, I wouldn’t have to worry so much 🙂

  18. I’m 36 amd I still write like an angsty teen – EGAD!

    I found an old paper diary from a few years ago before I left Australia and, although I couldn’t quite bring myself to burn it, I stapled it so tightly and repeatedly together that I may as well have! Heh!

    Oh by the way – I am still at the stage where it is all about the food. My kingdom for a mango ripened in the sun and fresh from the tree. *sigh* I hope it is a phase that eventually passes. 😀

  19. When I was 21, I caught my flatmates reading my rather raunchy teen diary in my room.. …After pursuing them up the street , them reading pages in loud shrieks, I finally caught them, prised it from their gleeful fingers, and asked my neighbour to drive me to Kimbriki tip, where I chucked it on top of the pile.
    I have had nightmares ever since of scavengers finding it and stalking me…my name and address was in the front!!!

  20. Damn, I know that feeling. Documenting all the crap until you have so much fun you don’t bother anymore….

    ….although it sounds as if you’re just as willing to document the fun too – lucky for us!

    Glad you’re still having fun “up north”.

    Scott 🙂
    PS: We now HAVE to comment after your comment about comments!

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