Will this diary really change your life? You decide...
There aren t many authors who would invite their readers to stalk them. But there are two. Belsize Park s Ben Carey is one of them. Along with Henrik Delehag – once of Belsize Park, now of Kensal Rise – he s the author of the cult bestseller This Diary Wi
There aren't many authors who would invite their readers to stalk them. But there are two. Belsize Park's Ben Carey is one of them. Along with Henrik Delehag - once of Belsize Park, now of Kensal Rise - he's the author of the cult bestseller This Diary Will Change Your Life.
More on the stalking later. First The Diary. For those who haven't come across it yet, it is a diary. Like other diaries it contains plenty of space for you to scribble down your appointments. Unlike other diaries, it doesn't stop at giving you the space to plan your life. It helps plan your life for you.
That's done by giving weekly suggestions - beautifully illustrated - of what you should be doing. Carey calls them "slightly insane tasks".
In the recently-published 2009 diary the suggestions include digging your own grave (and lying in it). That's to be done sometime between November 9 to 15, applying for inclusion in Who's Who -- in May - and signing up to Marxist principles in September.
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"Communist Week is one of my favourite ideas," says Carey. "We're going to ask all our readers for their earnings that week, high earners and low earners alike. Then we're going to pool the money and redistribute it to everyone who participates."
Carey anticipates that hundreds of people will send in their money. Here's a word of caution to anyone who scoffs at that. People do what The Diary tells them. The 2007 Diary told its readers to spend a week invading the small village of Svankaer in Denmark.
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"We chose Svankaer because of its complete remoteness, but that week people went there from all over the world. One guy travelled from New York. We made the local news."
Still not convinced? Let's return to the stalking. In the 2006 Diary, Benrik (as Carey and Delehag are jointly known) ordered their readers to stalk them at 6pm on a given night.
On the night in question, Carey hid in his downstairs flat with the lights off, hoping any stalking readers would assume he was out and would leave. It didn't work out that way. Readers did turn up and did assume he was out...
"So they decided to go to the pub and wait for me to come home. They turned up again at 11.30, completely pissed. I had to go out and appease them."
"The readers aren't loonies," he says hurriedly. "They approach it with a tongue-in-cheek feel. What's great is that it's grown into a community. Readers send in their ideas to us. About a fifth of the tasks that get into the Diary come from them."
The rest are generated by Carey and Delehag in the pubs and cafes of Belsize Park. They come up with so many that this year they've created an overspill book. Called A Book For People Who Want To Become Stinking Rich But Aren't Quite Sure How, it has all the surreal creativity of The Diary, but focuses on potential business ventures.
"The ideas are all slightly unhinged but potentially serious," asserts Carey. "Like Judgment Day interview training. That's the most important interview of your life - but nobody prepares for it. So the training's to discuss your sins and prepare yourself. There would definitely be takers for that in the American Bible Belt."
If you see it on Dragon's Den, you heard it from Benrik first...
o This Diary Will Change Your Life, £9.99 and A Book For People Who Want To Become Stinking Rich But Aren't Quite Sure How, are £9.99 each and both published by Boxtree.