as a child I had spent a happy fortnight, or Zazie dans le métro, had the alphabet not nudged me in those directions.
I also decided that I would not write about any topic I had covered at length elsewhere, so Ivy Compton-Burnett but not Proust, spirals but not touch. I had no idea if my alphabetical list of subjects would take me to the end of the hundred days I had allocated to myself but I felt I should leave this to chance. I scribbled down a provisional list of items and every afternoon when we returned from our daily walk on the Downs I would sit down with a cup of tea and look over the list and add or take away a topic here or there.
As it happened my alphabetical thoughts and memories came to an end with Zoos on 26 June, ninety-seven days after I had started. And around that time the Government announced that there would be an almost complete easing of the lockdown restrictions on 4 July even though none of its own criteria for doing so had been met, so my hundred days was a pretty accurate forecast of the length of the lockdown. The days did not go quite according to plan. On several occasions I was not able to complete my account of a thought or memory in one day and had to let it spill over into two; and once or twice I felt unwell and unable to do more than jot something down for the diary. As, towards the end, I realised I was going to fall just short of my hundred days, I tried to think of a few additional topics to write about, but none of these fulfilled the criterion I had set myself of making each day’s writing a genuine exploration. In the end there are 86 thoughts and memories for the hundred days of the diary and the whole is, I now realise, an attempt to come to terms with my life as I approach my eightieth birthday.