No doubt the psychs would have a field day with this one.

Today was spent mostly sat around watching a good friend – and computer whiz – reformatting my hard drive, re-installing software: the works. It was a long process, made longer by the various quirks that Windows kept throwing back at us.

But in the end, almost done, we turned to Outlook. I needed to back up my messages, calendar and such like. She is not an Outlook user: she delegated the job to me.

Big mistake!

I suspect I was tired. How else to explain?

I went to the bit that does back-up, clicked the appropriate folder and gave the new file a name, so it would be saved for re-installing later.

We cleared everything down and, a few hours later, put everything back up.

Hmmm. What happened next? You’ll have to wait a few pars, whilst I strike out on another theme that has been something of a constant over the past year or so: which is my sense that, for me at least, a complete break with my past would be unhealthy.

I have lived most of my life as male: lived in one name, behind one façade. There are practical issues involved in losing all that (like academic qualifications and, more important, if you work in the media or more generally, in the public spotlight,brand and reputation). Perhaps.

Since I’m not exactly planning on maintaining that past, there may be some inconsistency in that approach.

Co-incidentally, I was asked yesterday, by a producer with whom I am working on a documentary, if she could film me making use of material that carried my old name. I balked – and in the end I said no. Why? I’m not sure: I only know that it felt.. wrong. That “me” is gone. So a direct re-statement of that past is also wrong.

Pffft! That’s intellectualisation. The truth is, I am increasingly divorced from the old male persona, and reminders just feel wrong. That’s about as much explanation as I think I’m going to be able to give right now.

And so, back to Outlook. I should, of course, have backed up at the highest folder level – which happens to be “Personal Folders”.

Backing up at the inbox level just maintains .. .your inbox. Which is precisely what I just did. OK. I also backed up my calendar separately – as much by good luck as anything else.

But I didn’t back up my contacts. Or my sent box.

Ouch! Searching frantically through my drives, I find I have backed up both – a couple of years back. The contacts is no great loss, as I’ve been maintaining an address book outside of Outlook for some time now.

I can also recreate my sent folder from a few years back…Otherwise, though, I have, I suspect, at a stroke, wiped out most of my last five years – and more of e-mailing.

Am I bothered. Strangely not. I have kept looking at the 12,000 plus e-mails (yep: you read that right!) in my sent box, and thinking I need to whittle it down. Well: I just have! With extreme prejudice!

It’s a bit of a loss, in the “thinking of writing my memoirs” sense of things. But to be honest, I’m not thinking of writing my memoirs – what a pompous thing to do anyway! There will, undoubtedly, be a few e-mails that I will miss: but not THAT many. Memory will help, as, too, will the stuff that people have sent back to me.

But at a stroke, I seem to have wiped away a very large chunk of my past. I could recover some of it. But at this moment, I’m not sure there would be any point to that – beyond a teeny bit of anal retentiveness on my part.

Am I down-hearted? No. I actually feel just a bit freer than this morning.

How strange!



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