Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A trip to the archives

So much I should be doing, but I keep returning, endlessly fascinated, to the horrid photos Prog Rock Step Dad brought. They're like archeological artefacts and weird puzzles at the same time. How did this:

Become this?

Or this?

Adolescence is so cruel. One day maybe I will show these to my boys when they are fretting about spots.

How about these two?

(and let us take a moment to contemplate what an ugly baby I was - moon faced, and baleful with hard boiled eyes that stayed open all night)

How come they have been replaced by this terrifying freak show - 80s rent boy (or member of Bros?) and well, it's indescribable really. Gormless, graceless geek child perhaps?

I remember this photo, and this party. The belly with the tie behind my brother is the Bearded One, and it's one of his work Christmas parties we were both required to attend. As was traditional at these occasions, there was some lovely post-grad marine biologist I was mooning hopelessly over in my tongue tied fashion, and my brother got rat arsed and angry and had to be carried home after publicly berating the Bearded One for his failures as a parent. Happy times.

This one makes me smile - I look like Lady Diana.

I am in my Laura Ashley phase, aged 17, on exchange in Casablanca with Aurélie, who is a model.

Aurélie only eats SlimFast and apples and goes to ballet classes all the time when she isn't with her monosyllabic boyfriend. She barely speaks to me in the three weeks I stay, even though we have to share a bed, and her maid sleeps in the corner of the bedroom on the floor, though she does invite me to watch the filming of a commercial for sweets or shower gel or something she is making. It is during Ramadan, and at the end of the surreal day everyone sits in a giant tent and eats harira and dates.

Morocco is a total revelation for a girl from York- it is ravishing. I completely fall in love with it - food, snow tipped mountains, camels, staying in the medina in Marraakech, riding horses through the desert at sunset. I have never dared go back - how could it be as beautiful as I remember? Aurélie's neglect barely registers with me, since her friend Karim kidnaps me and introduces me to nightclubs, Prefab Sprout and sex. I can see why when I look at this photo - I am the picture of English innocence. It must have been terribly tempting.

Here I am suffering terrible torture yet again at the hands of my father. I must be 15, proudly wearing my paisley shirt with, I vividly remember, electric blue nail varnish. Under the shirt there is some dreadful local York band t-shirt that I am wearing like a badge of honour. I went to a lot of "gigs" as I called them self-consciously, and felt like a total hipster. If it was one of those places where you paid admission and got stamped on the hand, I would try not to wash my hand for at least a week to show off my total hipness. Of course, the whole coolness thing was totally undermined by the fact that I was either chaperoned by one of the band member's mothers, or by my mother's friend Andrew. I am a sort of goth lite. And where am I? I am at some scuzzy rural pub in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales, where my father has been dragging me up and down hills and fulminating about my attitude. I will spend my time gloomily reading novels or old copies of NME between bracing 4 hour walks, and pressing my head to the radio to try and pick up radio one. You can see in this picture that I am trying to decide whether to kill myself, kill him, or merely sulk a little harder.

Just one last one? This is just for the outfits. I mean seriously, the seventies, what a decade. A Clothkits CLOWN SUIT for a birthday party? Yes, yes and thrice yes!


The Spicers said...

Aurelie looks utterly empty-headed. I imagine her now, overweight and too-tanned, chain-smoking menthol lights.
You do look like Lady Di (in the nicest possible way)

Anonymous said...

i laughed and laughed. i could duplicate each of these -- lovely toddler, awkward pre-teen, mooning teenager, 15-going-on-35, the whole she-bang.

i will, of course, never do so. much better you than me.

(brief continues unfinished: motion for summary judgment in a maritime wrongful death case. must synthesize a year and a half of discovery and tell a compelling story at the same time. am considering suicide as a viable option.)

Anonymous said...

I would comment more fully, but have gone to my mental happy place riding horses into the sunset and the snow-tipped mountains. Later, Dudes.

bonnie-ann black said...

oh my gawd, lashes looks *so* much like you!

and i'm thinking aurelie is now trapped behind a burkah somewhere in a small, dusty town, with a fat husband, and five kids, all of whom treat her like dirt and no weepete either!

january is a month one must plan to do something! have a robert burns' day party -- with haggis -- that's what i generally do.

expateek said...

You know, I look at those photos, and (call me sentimental) in every single one you look beautiful, caring, tender, exquisite. As one gets older, one sees the loveliness in awkward teens, naughty toddlers, sassy primary schoolers. I think you're aces.

I hope you cut yourself some slack occasionally, because trust me, you are beyond wonderful.

Anonymous said...

aw, but those pictures are lovely (ok, i admit some of the outfits made me wince, but that is what pics of your childhood and adolescence are for - so you can look back and think "thank god i grew up")
plus i agree with expateek, you look shyly fascinating and sweet!

katyboo1 said...

You are a ravishing goddess compared to what is lurking in my attic.

I remember one particularly fine seventies party where I wore a green and white floor length pinafore in green with white apples, white with green apples, and my mother made me wear a bright green acrylic polo neck underneath. It itched like mad and I spent the whole time looking like Holly Hobbie with lice.

The resemblance to Lady Di is quite striking...

Mr Farty said...

I always thought Radio Luxembourg was much trendier than Radio 1. Happy times!

Your surcings (wv) are so lucky to have Lady Di for a mum.

Teena Vallerine said...

those pictures are lovely and how kind that someone kept them! I found a few old ones of me in my mother's loft but they had been all cut up.....should I ask? Well I'm not going to! I think you were beautiful and your brother very dishy! Aurelie looks a bit world weary for my liking. t.xx

Elsie said...

My internal CFO is rationing visits to your site (since I spend hours in imaginary conversation with everyone here, which is creepy because it’s not real and I need to earn a living), but these pictures were great. Someone just passed my office door and shouted “I recognize your dress,” when I was full-sizing the pretty-in-pink one –still trapped in the 80s here.

Mya said...

What gorgeous pics!
You appear to be wearing somebody else's white socks, sandals and...yes, feet...with the rather fetching red dress. It's quite ravishing.

And well done on opting for a whippet. Fine choice. It is the only dog breed I would ever consider giving house room.And they can jump really high too...perhaps that's a skill you'll be able to utilise in future?
Mya x

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the tortured paisley shirt one, in which you look quite lovely, there in the throes of fifteenhood. What is going on with your hands in the one with the red dress?

My verification word is "extedesi," which sounds like a South Asian travel agent website.

La Belette Rouge said...

We all have pictures when we were gawky and not at our lovliest. I bet you could do a post in which we all envy you that you and Charles had that lovely wedding and you had that intolerable mother in law. You are now and always were lovely, so take that inner critic.

If you ever need a part time job you could rent yourself out to parties as Lady Di, lovely you.

lisahgolden said...

I loved a Moroccan once a long time ago in Dijon. Maybe I should have gone back to Morocco with him. I could've hung out with you!

Old pictures of ourselves can certainly take us right back to the minute, can't they? Your descriptions were both poignant and hilarious.

Waffle said...

Firstly, that is not me in the clown suit. That is Alice Gladwin. I am in the green dress in the background with long hair. I wish I could have carried off the clown suit..

Iheart - yes, I am sure she is very leathery indeed, but I see her skeletal in too tight leather trousers with one of those tiny ratty dogs in her handbag.

Lisa - swap you for summarising plasterboard cartel appeals? Horrid pics. Funny.

HFF - Don't forget to take Marina - perfect climate!

Bonnie-ann - oddly enough there was lots of discussion of haggis at the NY party. Maybe I should hold a Burns Night party and charge them €200 for sheep intestine?

Expateek - ah, you are too lovely. They mainly intrigue me. It's so strange. I wish I could find the one where I am holding the newborn Space Cadette on my knee and you have never seen a person look more pissed off.

Emily - ah, the outfits! There were more. I have spared you.

Katyboo - I think I need to see that dress. It sounds quite awesome.

Mr F - Believe me, anything was better than "Viking FM"...

KP - you should have seen Aurélie's brother. He was outrageously handsome.

Elsie - I do understand. I fear for my own grasp on reality frequently. I mean, the internet knows I am working 2 days a week and have a dog, but most of my family do not... The pink dress, ah. Why my mother did not exercise more aesthetic control over me I do not know.

Mya - I know. The shoes are good, no? Wow, circus weepette. That could be fun.

redfox - I really have no idea. I look completely demented. I was probably trying to look languid and elegant. Hee!

Belette - the thing is, I do not, and have never looked like Lady Di. That picture is one of those freakish ones that looks nothing like the person in question. Bizarre...

Lisa - I find I have a tremendouly vivid memory of the clothes, but less of the places or emotions or people. I can't remember what Karim looked like at ALL, but that cream cardigan, in the Lady Di pic, I can feel every nubbly knitted lump of it..

Welsh Girl said...

You saved the best for last - the clown kit is unbeatably fantastic.

I'm convinced that today's parents (I guess that's you?) dress their children so much better, perhaps because of their own warped wardrobes as children. I confess that I am terrified of most under tens I see now as they are far more fashionable than I can ever hope to be.

I think my mother chose a lot of my clothes just to have a good laugh when we were driving her round the twist. She certainly didn't seem to be making any kind of fashion statement on our behalf.

Simon said...

What a coincidence - I just got back from a few days in Marrakesh. Lovely, but no Prefab Sprout as far as I could see...

bonnie-ann black said...

charge 'em 200 Euro for the whiskey and throw in the sheep intestines for free -- they'll drink a lot more than they'll eat of haggis, i assure (although i *love* the stuff, i admit that it -- like bratwurst or other stuffed internal organs -- is not for everyone).

personally, despite the extreme awkwardness of my teen years, i'd give a lot to look like that again, instead of the saggy chinned hag i've become. although, at least my skin has finally cleared up. but there's just so much more of it now!

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