Wednesday, 7 January 2009

LOL archives

Just a couple more today and then I absolutely promise to stop this cheap excuse for posting.

1. Neglect - ur doin it rite.

There are hundreds of amusing pictures of me like this, discarded in fields, up cliffs, in trees, buried up to my chin in heather, abandoned to my fate in a field full of sheep. You want your children to like brisk hikes, views, sensible footwear? Do not do this to them. That is all. Also, I blame you, Bearded One, for my overdeveloped thighs from walking up all those fucking hills.

2.I iz in the cuntry dressin liek the kween mum.

I LOVED this dress - Marks and Spencer's finest, with a frankly ill-advised drop waist and sash - it came in nuclear pink too and several of us had it, causing no end of tension at birthday parties and end of term discos (Dexys Midnight Runners and Shaddapa your face). It was all silky (nylon) and look, I so sophisticated I am wearing a scarf AND 15 denier black tights - the sign of über elegance for me. Truly, I am the height of North Yorkshire pre-teen chic. However I am also in the country, poor poor me. This - pre-glasses - is probably the stage where I still enjoyed it and at which I wrote the terrible scrapbook (made for FUN and emphatically not for school) Prog Rock Step Dad also brought along. It includes the following priceless lines in which I sound like a sensibly-shod custodian of a National Trust property in my mid 50s:

"It is very interesting, farmers in Coverdale do not enjoy walking, they walk merely as a means of conyevance. I enjoy walking in the dale a good deal, the views are absolutely stunning".

"Briefly, Sonny is a pony I ride, he is a 12.2 hh strawberry roan with a blase and a white sock on his near hind leg. He can be an unpleasant monster, always rolling in the river and eating the wrong things. I have seen him eat a button, a tissue and a Penguin wrapper! He lives with his fellow equine, 14.2hh Seaspray. I have fallen off him 16 times but he is quite nice really."

"The village of Middleham is of great historical interest, containing the ruins of Richard III's castle. The river Cover is fed by a good deal of small streams which give the landscape its slightly rippled look"

Ha! For fun, people, for FUN. There's a reason I look like I am waiting for a small sherry in this picture, and that is that I am suffering rural seclusion-induced premature middle age.

Moving on.

3.Smiel? Noewayz. Not fur eyt years at leest.

This outfit bears the hallmarks of a trip to Warehouse in Leeds, which was the ultimate, ultimate day out for me. A trip to Leeds, the great metropolis - the heady promise of a haircut at Vidal Sassoon, and a trip round the stylish hot spots of the Westdale shopping centre. I remember getting a t-shirt with 'Warehouse' written on it in neat black capitals and feeling I could actually die happy now. Well, happy but unsmiling, obviously I suppose. The rest is probably Miss Selfridge. Do you remember the joy of going to Miss Selfridge on a Saturday? How it just contained absolutely everything that was good about the world? If I had died at this age, I would have wanted my ashes spread in Miss Selfridge. I can remember exactly how that Miss Selfridge belt felt (very light - plastic) and how I felt it just finished the outfit to perfection.

I suspect I am actually bursting with happiness in this picture, but nothing on earth could have induced me to show it. Lashes caught sight of this picture and said I looked like a "maîtresse d'ecole"

4. Angzt? I haz it.

I think I might actually be wearing the iconic Warehouse t-shirt here, as well as the all important Burlington socks, not that they are helping any.

This is Quaker school ski trip. I have never known misery quite like it, except perhaps the geography field trip when I started having bizarre out of body experiences and my mum thought I should see a psychiatrist (geography! It's dangerous kids. Just don't do it. If someone offers you a fluvial glaciation pattern JUST SAY NO). My best friend Alex and I are sharing a bedroom with the cool girls and everything we have - our C&A sensible ski trousers and giant elasticated ski masks, sensible white briefs and wellington boots - is showing us for the tragic social failures we are. The cool girls have all in one white or powder blue ski suits, hot pink pants with those stringy thong sides and moonboots. All we have to offer is our gigantic foreheads. The wildest of the cool girls stays out all night with a dodgy old ski instructor, to our awe. Here I am probably reading Anna Karenina and wondering if we will have to have whitebait for dinner again. I voluntarily refused to join the better skiers group, because I was terrified of ending up with the cool girls and preferred to stay with my fellow 'remedial sports' travellers. This being Quaker school, there were plenty of us.

5. My pane let me show u it.

Paging Sylvia Plath? We have a bad poetry emergency! Such intensity in that giant forehead.. I am probably trying to smile, but I just can't. I am too damn miserable. You'd be miserable too with those glasses. WHAT IS WITH THE GLASSES, TEEN ME?? If my mother was alive I would be wanting to know exactly what was going through her head when she allowed me to choose these punishingly horrible frames.

Ok, photo archive is over. I'm not sure quite why I find it so compelling. I just want to try and fathom the alchemy that turns a precocious, confident eight -going-on-fifty year old into that angsty, inarticulate ball of awkwardness and alienation. Why? What's the point of adolescence? What evolutionary purpose did it serve to be a miserable arse for five to seven years? Is it better now, or worse?

I have no answers. But I want to go back and tell teen me that eventually I will live in Paris, have a dog, have a French lover and a wardrobe of elegant* black clothes just as I dream (though I will not be a famous show jumper or actress or date Mark Shaw from Then Jericho or even Ian Chisholm in the year above me), but that none of it will be anything like I am expecting it to be back in 1987 in my Laura Ashley pink bedroom. I would try to convey to my mopey self-absorbed 14 year old self that I will waste huge chunks of my life being dissatisfied and restless and passive and that this is what I will regret later, not having to wear glasses, or thinking my knees are too bony, or not having black Reebok hi-tops. And that for pity's sake I should get off my bed and turn off Morrissey and call Alex and we should go to Miss Selfridge and buy some more cheap crap and I should bloody well enjoy those thighs because I won't have them forever.

It wouldn't work though, would it?

*When I say 'elegant' obviously what I actually mean is stained and shapeless.


Welsh Girl said...

OH my god - Then Jericho! how could I have forgotten them? How?

What I like about the gawky teens, the ones hidden behind glasses and wavering between speaking at all, or speaking in tongues due to their general misery and rage at life, is that they always turn into the more interesting grown ups. You prove the point with your french lovers, chic wardrobe and excellent taste in teenage crushes!!!

Nimble said...

I think the bright blue dress is great, much better than bright pink. I also had a dropped waist dress I loved way back when. It was a good time.

Adolescence is supposed to be about being unhappy enough with your parents that you want to roam around and find an unaffiliated mate, right? But really it's just hormone poisoning and it takes us all a bit differently

katyboo1 said...

Again with the royal connections. Are you sure you're not a secret Duchess just waiting to claim your inheritance?

I too loved Mark Shaw from Then Jericho although my biggest crush for a long time was Mark O'Toole, the bass player from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I used to kiss his poster wearing my mint flavoured lip gloss. How chic.

I briefly remember smiling in 1987. It may actually have been wind. I think you don't smile as a teenager in case you seem enthusiastic and someone tries to get you to do something. It's all too much.

peevish said...

You need to upload these adolescent photos to flickr and add them to the group: I'm so bershon. Because you were. So. Bershon.

bonnie-ann black said...

i am sure telling your 14-year-old self all that stuff wouldn't impress her at all because *you wouldn't understand!* i wish i could have gone back and lit a fire under myself and forced myself to live the adventurous, dangerous, sex-filled life i always wanted, instead of being responsible all the time. *sigh* i don't know if i would have listened either.

i cannot remember any specific clothing store that i liked, or any style of dress... my big dream at 14 was a pair of sleek, black high boots, and a black trench coat. both of which i got, thanks to rather indulgent, if bemused, parents. i was too late for all the "trends"... too young for hippy, too old for disco, too round for Flashdance, too dramatic for punk (really! give up my black cloak with the kelly green lining? you *must* be high!).

i've never been very nostalgic for my youth. it really is wasted on the young. and i agree, it is an evolutionary watershed -- if you survive it, and all the weird, angsty, risky behaviour -- you get to procreate with someone outside your gene pool. although, i've seen an awful lot of teen procreation.

Teena Vallerine said...

Love that scrapbook! Have you thought of looking for a publisher? What about approaching the Rough Guide people - they might be interested in something so vernacular! t.xx

Red Shoes said...

OMG, I need to find my childhood pictures of self-with-waist-length-hair-wearing-prairie-skirt-and-high-necked-puff-sleeved-victorian-blouse for you. You would tooootally understand.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad I never had to wear glasses. Being a teenager was bad enough without them.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I think I am a few years older than you and have copious photos of me in National Health Glasses (in baby blue, baby pink or brown only), before looking kooky ever became fashionable, and when you were called, "Speccy Four Eyes!", on a regular basis...

I agree with so much of what has been said - I was a bony, gangly thing and always thought of myself as fat, when the tide has turned now and I'm properly fat at over 40!

We would not have listened to our older selves, we would have been too teenage ueber (how do you get that umlaut?) cool!

Best motto is, "Je ne regrette rien", I feel...

Potty Mummy said...

God, you're so right. it wouldn't work. But I still think your post should be required reading for 13 year old girls living in the sticks... And as for the ski trip, just count yourself lucky that your ski trousers were not fashioned from old jeans sprayed with waterproofing material (that didn't work, btw) by your father... (Sadly, this is not MY story to tell, but a friends. I just borrowed it because it is too good to waste).

Mr Farty said...

Ah, yes, nothing beats a good bit of conveyancing around the dales when you're trying to be über cool.

über. Yeah. Like that. I'm so hep.

Now where did I put my toe-crushing cowboy boots?

SUEB0B said...

The adolescent unsmiling angst pics belong here:

Léonie said...

Wow, I love the scrapbook entries. Oh, I love them. I wouldn't normally admit to this, but I actually LOL-ed.

I had a very similar ski trip experience, complete with daring ski-instructor-snogging roommates and sensible C&A trousers. I remember I had to stay in because I had such bad sunburn on my cheeks.

I love your angsty, teenage self.

Jessica said...

You can't quit now, I adore these "awkward teen" posts!

Just one more, please?

expateek said...

Definitely find a publisher for that diary. There was a wonderful exhibition at the Horniman Museum in London two years ago, which used a 12-year-old girl's travel diary to caption some of the Horniman's travel photographs from the early 20th century. It was absolutely priceless -- and timeless too.

I'm sure there's a market niche here that the rural English ache to have filled.

Waffle said...

Welsh Girl - that's 'french lover', singular. Sadly..

Nimble - I must say, the blue was definitely the savvy choice.

Katyboo - I was unearthing a pic of him to show Red Shoes, and got a recent one from the Sun where he had been beaten up. It was a cruel, cruel awakening.

Peevish - I was. Truly I was.

Bonnie-ann - you sound like a bit of a style icon.

KP - I am relieved to say, for my sanity, that after 8 pages it peters out..

Red Shoes - you do. Yes.

Bevchen - it was like death, I swear. Worst thing. Ever.

Woman - I had the NHS pink too (poor choice. At least the tortoishell were iconic). Happily no photos have survived.. I have a French keyboard! ç ñ ô ü Ah, I love it.

PM - no! really? I thought nothing could be worse than C&A but you have proved me wrong.

Mr F - I would love to see a picture of those.

SueBob - a lot of them are WAY too attractive though. I need some really physically unfortunate teens.

Léonie - I know, it's tragic. What a pompous little creature!

Jessica - hmm. I think you've seen the worst sadly.

Expateek - It is mercifully short, but leadenly informative..

justme said...

I love the pics! I was similarly awkward and deeply uncool in my teens.....what amazes me is how very diferent teenage girls are today. Or at least the ones my son knows are. They are ALL, glossy, beautiful, stylish and confident and absolutely terrifying!

JChevais said...

I remember being an unsmiling git as well. I don't understand how everything has changed. French teenage girls are just what justme said they are: sleek and punchy. they freak me out. I was never like that. I was the geek reading in the library at lunch time. I had a favourite chair for god's sake!

The Spicers said...

I spent my entire adolescence squinting at the chalkboard, cheating on the eye test by memorizing the letters, all to avoid the horror of glasses.
I never got the braces I needed either, so vain was I.

bonnie-ann black said...

"style icon"... i like it. but i'm afraid my family just sighed and said "dramatic!" whenever i expressed my desire for some out of the ordinary type of clothing. for a while, in my early 30s, i was wearing an Acubra hat which cost me $100, with a harris tweed coat i bought at a street market for $15, long skirts and a riding jacket. these days i tend towards 2-tone shoes, black trousers and a very long multi-pocketed "highlander" coat. it's really rather terrifying to on-lookers. fortunately, i only look outward and have a sliver sized mirror at home.

H said...

Have you not heard of Sarah Brown's "Cringe" (Now in England!) You must, you must.
I've done it and I didn't die.
AND she's doing a UK book.

Pochyemu said...

'Sheep are really the backbone of farming in Coverdale...'

Were you commissioned to write a sheep-rearing almanac after this?!

This is seriously fucking brilliant.

Waffle said...

Justme - but without suffering, how will they become nice rounded people? Do not tell me they can, because then the only justification for adolecence is gone.

Mrs C - It is cruel. But look at Aurélie and me at the same age - I fear it is a gallic thing too. They just do teenage better than us.

Iheart - damn, I wish I had had your resourcefulness.

Bonnie-ann - goodness. In York if you had those tendencies you became a historical reenacter and stalked around in woad with a big sword.

Helena - sadly I never wrote a diary. If only. Just the scrapbook.

Pochyemu - There's a whole double page centerfold of sheep breeds!

bonnie-ann black said...

as a matter of fact, i do have a sword that i carry about -- on my lapel. it's an old kilt pin from a de-commissioned scots regiment. i'm not SCA or re-enactor material, though. too skeptical and self-aware. i'd attach a photo, but not sure how to do that.

Liberty London Girl said...

It's funny isn't it how arrested we all were in our development, I mean I was still wearing frog applique sweatshirts at 13... But oh Miss Selfridge how I adored you on my day trips to Canterbury to mooch about and stare at boys from King's. And the Burlington Argyle socks. And bright pink tights. And rolled up jeans with huge cardigans.. And thick elasticated corset belts. And The Smiths. Oh god I was OBSESSED with Morrisey. Oh my lost youth....LLGxx ps You are a malign force. Otherwise why wld I be on, okay in, bed at midday on a Friday eating lentil soup (I am currently approaching the poorhouse) reading all your knicker wttingly funny archives?

Waffle said...

LLG - I am a malign force. It is true. But that is the best reason why I have ever heard. The Smiths and Burlington socks. Poor poor us. Oh well, Violet came to the school no uniform day dressed as Pigling Bland. That was even worse.

I am joining you in the poorhouse. It is rubbish.

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