write what should not be forgotten

Re-Reading My Teenage Diaries | August 1990

[There was no Secret Diary post for July 1990, for the simple reason that, if my younger self did anything of note that month, she completely failed to record it, and so it will forever remain a mystery. I mean, I think it’s probably safe to deduce that it was just a lot of whining about the state of her hair, really, so let’s all try our best not to feel too bad about it, m’kay? Anyway, after a short hiatus in July, our heroine returns in August, for a summer that seems to have involved daily trips to the video store, and not a whole lot else. I’d love to be able to say that things get more interesting later in this diary, but to be totally honest, things didn’t get any more interesting in my entire LIFE, so I’m going to hand you over to my teenage self now, and go and cry into my pillow. As always, commentary in square brackets is by Current Me. Enjoy!]

Friday, August 3rd, 1990

It rained today, and mum was off work sick, so I had a shower and then got into cleaning my room. I finished that at about 6:30pm and it is looking absolutely brilliant!!!!! It’s very New Age, clinically white [It was mostly pale green, if I recall correctly…] with no trace of mess. [Probably because I’d just stuffed everything under the bed. I used to do that.] The only splashes of colour are my dancing flower, which looks quite hippyish (being a flower) and a little clay monster I made in art, which is bright green with red hair and yellow eyes with red pupils. It’s really vulgar and bold looking and I like it!!! Oh, and the other piece of colour is Ted, my bright orange, rather worn bear that I’ve had since I was born and that I love more than life itself.

So, I feel on top of the world! Mum and I pulled a wishbone and I got the long end. I wished simply to be happy and I think this time that my wish may come true!! [NO.] Anyway, gotta go, I love you all!!! [WHO, though? Who am I talking to here?! It’s almost as if I actually KNEW that I’d one day publish these diaries on some newfangled “internet” thing….]

Saturday, August 4th, 1990

I didn’t do much at all today, for a start I didn’t get out of bed until 11:30!!! I had breakfast and lazed around until 2:30 then got dressed and lazed around again. [I’m really glad I was so specific with timings in these entries: we’d always have wondered what time I lazed around until otherwise, wouldn’t we? It would have eaten us up with curiosity.]

We’re not going riding tomorrow because of mum’s allergy [to horses], which has gotten really bad lately, and I’m dead worried because I’m not sure if they meant we’re just not going tomorrow, or if we’re never going again. If it’s the second option, I’ll die, there will be no point in me going on living if I can’t have horses but I don’t know how to ask them what they mean? [Er, you could just say, “What do you mean?” Maybe?]

See ya all tomorrow,

Yours worriedly,

Amber L McNaught

Tuesday, August 7th, 1990

Went into MACRO today with the folks, I seen a nice pair of flared jeans, but they didn’t have my size. I also saw a cool pair of Nike trainers, but the smallest size they had was a 6, which was too big, so I didn’t get those either.

When we got back I went down to Chloe’s and we had a good laugh, she was telling me about her holiday in Torquay. She brought me back a cute lil pink hippo to go beside my white one and some Adidas perfume which is great. When I got back from Chloe’s we watched Back to the Future II and it was utterly brilliant!

Wednesday, August 8th, 1990

Chloe came up today and we had a great laugh. We watched Carrot’s Commercial Breakdown which is hilarious, and sung on my karaoke machine. It was great, and I’m SURE my voice is improving!! [Spoiler alert: NO, it wasn’t. False alarm.]

Saturday August 11th, 1990

I’m well pissed off right now. It’s Saturday but we haven’t been anywhere and I’m fed up. I’ll write again later.


The day was much better than it started off. Dad and I went down town [No idea how or why I suddenly turned American here, but OK…] to get some groceries [And again] and a video for tonight, put them into the trunk of the car [The trunk?], and went to get the video, then dad realised the car keys were gone. He’d locked them in the car! We had to walk all the way home to get the spare set of keys and then dad went back down to the car (I was too lazy to go) and get the car. [Quite why this incident turned my terrible day around is beyond me, but it seems to have cheered me up no end…] The video we got was Turner and Hooch and it was brilliant except for the end which was a little sad. Anyway, we go riding tomorrow. [Which explains why I was able to go on living after last week’s disappointment, obviously.]

Sunday, August 12th, 1990

Riding today and I’m sick of being picked on by Julie [the instructor]. I really wish I was a better rider.

I’m feeling a bit depressed because my hair has gone frizzy and horrible again and I’m worried that it won’t be sorted out before I go back to school (a week on Wednesday). I wish something could be done about it, but unfortunately absolutely nothing can possibly be done about it. Dad and Alex chopped grandad’s old rowan tree down today as it was completely rotten, and that was a bit of a shame. There’s really nothing else happened today. It rained and rained and rained and rained. Depressing.

Thursday, August 16th, 1990

Great day today! I went down to Chloe’s at 12:00 and we went to the chemist’s. I bought a new 60s style hairband which is currently in vogue [HUH?] and a bottle of moisturiser cream. [I apparently bought these, not from the chemist, but from 1950, when people last spoke like that.] Then we went to Azad [local video rental place] and hired a video, and went on to Chop Shop where I get my hair trimmed. I got most of my heavy fringe cut off and it’s quite cool. [Is anyone else feeling a sense of foreboding at this, or is it just me?] After that we went home and watched the video, ‘High Spirits’ which was good, and we had a good laugh.

Anyway, after Chloe had gone home, Jason came to the door for the paper money. I just called mum to give him the money and went away, but when mum had paid him I went into the kitchen where dad was saying to mum “What on earth was he saying?” Apparently Jason (Who I have fancied for years) had been asking mum all about me, what year I was in, etc. It’s amazing, I think someone fancies me! [I… don’t think that’s how it works, Amber: there is a thing called ‘polite conversation’, you know? Not everyone who looks at you fancies you.] When mum told him I was only 3rd year, he said, “Oh, I would’ve thought she was 4th year AT LEAST!!” I only hope mum hasn’t ruined the whole thing by saying I’m only 3rd year… do you reckon a 5th year would go out with a 3rd year?

Saturday, August 18th, 1990

Good day today. We went into Glasgow to get me clothes for school. Glasgow is the 1990 City of Culture, and I must say it is much improved. [Ooh! The Edwardian lady is back again! Love that for me!] It used to be full of slums, but they’ve given it a facelift and it’s OK now. [Sorry, Glasgow.] I didn’t get much, however, but what I did get, I love. I got a pair of Easy jeans (£15.99), a new schoolbag (£5.99) and a pair of Kickers. Kickers are shoes that are really cool and have been in for months, but I wasn’t ever allowed to buy them cos they’re £50. Anyway, the ones I got were only £35 in a sale in Hoi Poloi, the trendiest, most expensive shop in Glasgow. [Er, no, and no.] I got my jeans in a shop called Splash, and my bag in a shoe shop. I was really chuffed, I’m quite looking forward to school now. I’ll be much more self confident now.

Riding tomorrow, I hope I’m not sick!

[Here is a photo of the exact shoes I had, and, well, let’s just say there was a reason they were on sale, as we’re about to find out…]

brown Kickers boots/ shoes

Sunday, August 19th, 1990

Riding today and my nerves weren’t as bad as I’d anticipated. I was on my very favourite horse, Solitaire, and the lesson was great, I LOVE riding!!

Monday, August 20th, 1990

I’m not writing this last thing at night, as I usually do, it’s half-past three and I’m writing it now because I’m gonna be busy tonight. It’s back to school tomorrow so I’m gonna have to get my hair washed, nails polished etc, etc. I got this huge box of mum’s old makeup outta the bathroom cabinet this morning and it’s got everything in it, cleanser, toner, lipstick, blusher, eye shadow, eye gel, cover stick, powder, EVERYTHING! So I’ve been experimenting with it, there’s a lot of stuff that suits me [Which is weird, because my mum has completely different colouring from me, but OK…], so I’m well set up in the looks department! [SNORT.] I’m actually quite looking forward to school for once.

I can remember this time two years ago when I was gonna be starting high school for the first time… I was so scared! I eventually set off in my black skirt, etc, mum was determined I was gonna wear school uniform!* This time last year I set off wearing my jeans, denim shirt and leather jacket. I thought I was so tough!** Here’s what I’ll be wearing tomorrow:

Amber's outfit

[*I’m actually still not over this: I went to one of the roughest high schools in the area, and absolutely NO ONE wore school uniform, which wasn’t mandatory at the time. Or no one except yours truly, obviously, who LITERALLY DIED when she had to turn up in a shirt and tie, when everyone else was in jeans. I sometimes still think of it, to be honest.]

[** I remember this outfit, because I was absolutely boiling in it in August, but I insisted on wearing it anyway, because, SO TUFF.]

Tuesday, August 21st, 1990

Today did not work out as planned. [QUELLE SURPRISE!]

First of all, mum didn’t get my sexy black top ironed so I had to wear a really unsexy one. [Because there was no possible way I could have, I don’t know, ironed it myself? Maybe?] Then Chloe slagged off my Kickers, she said she wouldn’t be seen dead in them, etc, etc. She didn’t say it directly, but she said, “My mum was gonna buy me them, but I’ll die if she does, they went out months ago, it’s not ME who wanted them!!” [Which actually DOES seem quite direct when you read it back don’t you think?] Wasn’t that bitchy?!

Anyway, classes started and I had a run-in with Regina* which I won’t go into details about, but she called me a cow and talked about her horse to her friends deliberately loudly so that I could hear her, man, that’s immature. [Wait… she… TALKED ABOUT HER HORSE? LOUDLY? What fresh hell is THIS?] The actual work at school was OK, but boy was I glad to come home.

I wish I could get on with people a bit better. I wish I hadn’t started off so badly with Regina, she is v. popular and is doing her level best to turn people against me [By talking about horses, I guess?] I think she has a big problem…

[* Needless to say, “Regina” wasn’t her actual name. I decided to name her after Regina George from Mean Girls when I wrote about her in the earlier diary which I published on the blog, but while I obviously thought I was being clever, it turned out most people just thought I actually went to school with someone called “Regina”, which, NO.]

Wednesday, August 22nd1990

I haven’t mentioned the Gulf crisis here yet, so here it is:-

[*Older me pulls up a chair and produces a notebook, ready to take notes from this one.* I mean, THANK GOD we’re going to finally have this situation explained by someone who was there at the time, right? FINALLY! I expect this will be an educated and insightful take on the Gulf crisis, both accurate and nuanced. Thank goodness someone had the sense to write it all down!]

A few weeks ago, Saddam Hussain, the leader of Iraq, invaded Kuwait on a mission of power (just like Hitler) and a greed for more oil. Of course, America and the UK have objected and have sent troops out there and everyone expects a war against them, hostages have been taken, etc, etc. I don’t agree with war, I think there must be a different way to solve problems.

[It’s a real shame I didn’t elaborate on what this mysterious “different way” might be, given that I had all the answers, huh? Still, “etc, etc” is a truly fantastic breakdown of one of the most significant conflicts of the time, isn’t it? Look out for my next book, “Etc, etc: the true history of the 90s”, out soon!]

I hope we don’t have a third world war, because that would be horrific. I would be a conscientious objector and I wouldn’t give a damn who won as long as the war ended.

It seems strange to think that you (whoever you are) are reading this some time years into the future. You already know if we do have a world war, you know who wins… who knows, maybe you even know if I survived it or was killed?

And with that thought, I must leave you! Goodnight!

[I’ve left this entry in, embarrassing though it is, purely because I remember being really troubled by this: like, it seemed like something that was even more important than my hair at the time, and that’s saying a LOT. I obviously had the whole Dunning-Kruger thing going for me here, in that I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but would nevertheless talk for HOURS about how v.v. bad war would be, as if I was the only person who had realised this, and everyone else just thought it would be a bit of a laugh, really, like one of the videos you’d watch after school with Chloe. I was genuinely mystified about why the world’s armies didn’t just all lay down their arms and refuse to fight: because THAT would’ve shown Saddam, wouldn’t it?]

Friday, August 24th, 1990

I was talking to Lorraine, our new girl today, and she was telling me that she had been talking to Regina, and Regina had said she was going to rearrange my face for me if I gave her another dirty look. She also told Lorraine that I go up to the stables and steal her horses and I’m always riding them. If she thinks that, she’s gotta mental problem.

[This is the same Regina I bumped into during a beach trip a couple of years ago: I wrote about it earlier this year, in a post I have since deleted, because it’s become obvious that she follows me on social media, and I got paranoid that she’d subscribe and read it. Anyway, she messaged me twice last month on Instagram to tell me how amazing and talented she thinks I am, so I’m guessing she’s forgiven me for repeatedly breaking into the stables and riding her horses. I, on the other hand, will never get over the way she used to talk about them loudly, just to spite me…]

Monday, August 27th, 1990

Nothing much happened today, school as usual. After school, Chloe came up and we worked on our Life & Work project for school. Chloe and I are doing “Food and Marketing” and as part of the project we’re gonna have to go to the crisp factory in [nearby town], which’ll means we’ll have to go on the bus ourselves and we’ll get an afternoon off school. [And also because we’d get free crisps, which, let’s face it, is why we choose this project…]

Oh, I nearly forgot something important. Dad phoned The Grange [another riding school in the area] and I’ve to go for a lesson on Sunday at 10am. I’m REALLY worried because dad told the woman I’d been riding for four years, so she’ll assume I’m good, and I’m not!!! What if I go there and they’re all doing really difficult stuff? What if I’m sick? I’m VERY, VERY worried!!!!!

Friday, August 31st, 1990

Well, thank God that week’s over – it’s been awful. Today wasn’t too bad. I got 100% in an accounts test and 86% in maths. The Grange on Sunday . I’m not feeling too bad about it now, in fact I’d be really looking forward to it if I wasn’t worried that everyone there is gonna be much better than me.

I walked home with Tracey and Michelle and we went into the community centre so that Tracey could talk to a boy who works there about booze for a party. Tracey bought a can from the machine and she gave me a drink of it. I thought it was just lemonade and I took a big swig of it before I realised what it was. It was SHANDY! It tasted really good, but I felt really guilty about it after, I still do.

Diaries of a teenage girl, explained

Photo by Kasturi Roy on Unsplash

books by Amber Eve