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Diana - the unseen Chig diaries

After a fierce bidding war with the Daily Express, World of Chig has secured the exclusive rights to the first ever excerpts from Chig’s diaries to be published. No one has ever read these words before.

Before I reveal what I wrote in my diary, ten years ago today, when Diana died, some context is necessary. I was already having the worst time of my life, feeling anxious, depressed and helpless, because three days previously, at 8am on Thursday 28th August 1997, I had received a phone call from my sister, telling me that our Dad had suffered a heart attack. He was a on a bowls tour of Northern Ireland at the time, so we couldn’t just rush off to see him straight away and we were agonising over what to do. Unbelievably, Dad had actually had the heart attack a few days earlier, on the coach journey from the Midlands up to the ferry for Northern Ireland. I had no idea before then that anyone could have a heart attack without realising, but apparently it’s not uncommon. As early treatment is crucial after MIs (to give them their medical name), it was a miracle that Dad was still alive, but we weren’t sure at all what the prognosis was for the next few days, and if or when we would see him again.

On top of all that uncertainty, I was also being tormented by some kind of skin irritation or infestation, possibly scabies caused by mites or fleas from the carpet of my new house, the first I had owned, which I had moved into just a month before. (The previous owners had a cat and left a carpetful of fleas behind in the lounge.) It wasn’t a comfortable time, physically or emotionally.

On the Saturday night, I had gone to bed just after 1am and written my diary in bed, as usual. The car crash in Paris was just about to happen as I wrote this first entry. I then wrote another entry at lunchtime and a third one later that night. I think they give an interesting insight into what was going through my mind that day, even if some of it seems a bit daft now.

Sunday 31st August 1997 1.16am

It’s very hard not to think about Dad all the time that I’m not feeling mites (or whatever they are) on my face and ankles.


[My sister] spoke to Dad today. I didn’t. She said he was very solemn, and they’ve told him the heart attack was ‘bad’. Lucy [a friend of mine from Northern Ireland, living here in Birmingham] advised flying and hiring a car, when I went round to Deb’s this evening.

Sunday 31st August 1997 (again) 1.00pm

Princess Diana is dead. Along with Dodi Al-Fayed and a Ritz chauffeur, she was in a car crash in Paris and died at 3am British time (4am Paris time) from heart attacks in hospital, after two hours of medical attention.

I got up at 11.03 to come down and watch Hollyoaks. I noticed that the Archbishop of Canterbury was on BBC1 and BBC2, and though the Queen Mum had died. Then there was a shot of a wrecked car in Paris and the news that it was Diana.

As if to add to the misery, it’s raining heavily here, although not in London, where flowers are piling up at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. Pleasingly, the BBC reporter there has said that lots of gay men are turning up because of her support for AIDS charities.

I rang [my sister] – she and [her partner] didn’t know, and we wondered if it was a bomb, but it was a pursuit with the paparazzi on motorbikes, crashing in the tunnel. Dodi was pronounced dead at the scene.

Poor Charles had to tell William and Harry. There’s uncertainty over whether she’ll have a state funeral. I don’t think the nation will forgive the Windsors if they don’t allow one.

Tony Blair’s comments moved me, and Earl Spencer, her brother, said he “always believed the press would kill her,” but didn’t expect that they would “take such a direct hand in her death”. Strong words indeed.

There’s solemn music in Radio 1, all BBC programmes suspended for continuous news. How considerate that they’ve just mentioned that Eastenders will be shown next Sunday. I was wondering.

In the midst of all this, I also rang Mum and left an answerphone message. [My sister] says she’s with [a friend] from Cambridge, out walking somewhere. I rang Dad at the hospital but they were busy and he had to ring me back. Our conversation ran out when his money did, but he didn’t complain that I told him [my sister] and I were going out there, with one of us accompanying him back. I wish it were easier to talk to him, but the payphone doesn’t have a number.

There’s a heavy atmosphere of gloom. It’s even dark now. I was going to go into work, or to Ikea, but I don’t think I’ll bother now. This is a uniquely depressing day.

I can’t help thinking that Diana lived her life like a film script, and it has ended in tragedy, and romance like a story by her step-grandmother, Barbara Cartland. No one would have been happy with an ending written like this.

Even Tom Cruise is on now, talking about the press harassment. She was the most photographed woman in the world. I would guess only Michael Jackson is more famous. No other person has so much attention paid to them. It’s an unnecessary tragedy.

Sunday 31st August 1997 (yet again) 11.56pm

Three diary entries in one day – and what a sombre, miserable, grey day it has been. All day I’ve been thinking we’ll wake up tomorrow and the Diana story won’t be true. At the same time, I’m worried about Dad. I only got to speak to him for about a minute, long enough to say we were going over, earlier today. I’m petrified of flying there, regardless of any other fears.

It has been a “horrible” day, as David Dimbleby said at the end of another tear-inducing tribute tonight. Radio 1 is still playing the same rotation of quite nice easy listening tunes. The only one I know is Sylvian & Sakamoto’s ‘Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence’. It seems to crop up every hour. Oh, and Enigma too. People were saying on TV tonight that because the press (albeit the mercenary paparazzi) killed Diana, we shouldn’t buy tomorrow’s papers. It’ll be hard not to. Of course, no one knows if the chauffeur had a heart attack, skidded on oil, etc., but the photographers chasing them have been condemned already by the self-righteous TV journalists, as Bob Geldof pointed out.

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