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.
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.