Five minutes past four, 14th September 1888

I have it! The first evidence of one of my celebratory hats being worn by persons hitherto unknown in one of the most obscure outposts of Her Majesty's empire.

I must confess that the production of a "photograph" still appears to me a most miraculous process, akin to alchemy. At my club, Sir Charles Weston, who dabbles in such technology himself, provided me with a detailed account of the process. Halide salts are mixed in solution with collodion and placed over a glass plate. In a "dark" room, the plate is then bathed in silver nitrate to reveal an image which captures the very soul of the person depicted. Charlie showed me one of the very latest machines - the so-called Back Focus Cone View - its cone-shaped bellows allowing for compact transportation in, say, a carriage or railway car.

The image I have received clearly reveals a member of the fairer sex, although her garb is unlike that of any respectable lady in English society. She raises her arms towards a gigantic statue, the like of which one would never see commissioned in London. It is this sheer exoticism which makes me perspire with further anticipation. Where next - and in what circumstances - may I encounter another of my hats?

Eight o'clock, 31st August 1888

Great news has reached me from Constantinople. My consignment of hats arrived some two weeks ago and was dispatched eastwards by mountain mule. I can barely contain my excitement at the thought of my forthcoming anniversary being shared with persons hitherto unknown across the Empire.

Five and twenty to six, 31st August 1888

A most disconcerting conversation with a young Italian fellow this afternoon, who goes by the name of Marconi. Whilst on my regular constitutional in Hyde Park, I chanced upon a crowd held in rapturous awe by a demonstration of some ingenious device. After much cheering, the throng dispersed, allowing me to indulge in intercourse with the man who had just moments previously enjoyed what appeared to be a spectacular success.

"Are you familiar with the principles of wireless telegraphy?" says he, speaking in excellent English for a foreigner.

"No, Signor," I replied. "You regrettably have me at a disadvantage."

My response served as a signal for an exposition which must have lasted a full hour, in which the Italian revealed that he was an inventor of a device for sending Morse signals through the ether. Immediately my thoughts turned to my birthday on 1st November. If I were able to gain access to such a device, even for a matter of a few minutes, I might broadcast news of my celebrations as far as The Needles on the Isle of Wight. The rational side of my mind did, however, remind me that talk of 'wireless' Morse is nothing more than conjuror's illusion. After two score years, I have developed an uncanny ability to identify a charlatan.

Two of the clock, 8th August 1888

A most agreeable few days on the sands of Eastbourne, although I freely admit to shock and astonishment at the wilful display of lax morals among certain womenfolk who frequent the front. As you will see from my amateur sketch above, they demonstrate a penchant for hoisting their petticoats and immodestly revealing their ankles as they paddle upon the shoreline. Gentlemen are forced to avert their eyes. I distracted myself by a trip to the newly erected camera obscura and with a pleasant ride upon the back of an ass which is trained, much like a circus beast, to traverse the dunes for the entertainment of his human masters.

Five minutes past three, 1st August 1888

To the sea-side this weekend to take the sun. During my perambulations along the front, I shall endeavour to focus further upon my forthcoming birthday and its associated celebrations. If the mood takes me, I dare say I may venture to the newly-built pier which I understand extends some several hundred yards into the sea and houses countless frivolities and childish amusements. You may, dear reader, rest assured that I shall eschew any game or folly which encourages immorality or fecklessness.