A couple of unrelated posts/messages today got me thinking about how much we take the Internet for granted nowadays as an easy way of finding out about everything.
When I was a small boy, growing up in a Wiltshire village, most of what I learned I was taught at school. I don't think I was particularly inquisitive anyway: if my parents took me out anywhere I might've asked about something I found interesting, but if they didn't know the answer that would generally have been the end of it. We didn't have any books to speak of at home: I don't know if the village had a library but I don't remember going to one, and when we eventually got a TV there was only one channel with no daytime programmes. We didn't have a phone, but occasionally sent off a coupon for something-or-other and by the time it came I'd usually lost interest in whatever it was.
Hobbies, too, were pretty much restricted in the same way. I think it was while we were still in Germany that I started an embryonic stamp collection. I liked the bright attractive design of the German stamps, and I got the occasional British one if anyone sent us anything from back home. But I suppose to have progressed anywhere with it would've entailed buying a magazine or a book, or maybe joining a club. I suppose I just wasn't that interested in the end. I don't know what happened to it, I didn't keep it - but I did start collecting coins once our travels took us further afield, and I still have a small tin full of assorted coins from Germany, Hong Kong and points inbetween, including a bundle of Hong Kong 1-cent notes, which I imagine have got to be the ultimate in "not worth the paper they're printed on". Incidentally I also salvaged a complete range of 1960s pre-decimal money (sadly not a mint set, so they're not worth anything) but even down to the lowly farthing which I remember having to use in Junior school arithmetic lessons, but not the real thing in practice. I never bothered getting hold of a coin catalogue which would've been the only real way to see if I'd got anything rare enough to be of any value, though.
And of course I wouldn't have been able to keep an online diary. I could have kept a written one - but I was certainly no Pepys, and while with the benefit of hindsight it's perhaps a shame I can't look back and see what I was thinking and doing as I grew up, in all honesty it wouldn't have much more than idle curiosity value at best and at worst might well have distorted some things into assuming much more significance than they actually had.