First published in 1984 under a pseudonym as 'The Diary Of A Good Neighbour and 'If The Old Could . . .'
The diaries introduce us to Jane, an intelligent and beautiful magazine editor concerned with success, clothes and comfort. But her real inadequacy is highlighted when first her husband, then her mother, die from cancer and Jane feels strangely removed.
In an attempt to fill this void, she befriends ninety-something Maudie, whose poverty and squalor contrast so radically with the glamour and luxury of the magazine world. The two gradually come to depend on each other - Maudie delighting Jane with tales of London in the 1920s and Jane trying to care for the rapidly deteriorating old woman.
'If The Old Could . . .' contrasts the helplessness of the elderly with that of the young as Jane is forced to care for her nineteen-year-old drop-out niece Kate as she struggles with an emotional breakdown and Jane realises that she understands young people as little as she so recently did the old.