February 1990 diary

Re-Reading My Teenage Diaries | February 1990

Friday, February 2nd, 1990

I am very upset. Today we got our English marks back at school. I got a 2.2, Chloe got a 2.1 and Susan got a 1.1. I was third in the class, which is terrible. Last year I got a 1.1 and was first in the whole year. I am very competitive and to be third to me is terrible. Seriously, I am very, very upset, I wish I wasn’t so ambitious. I used to be brilliant at English. It was the only thing in the whole world which I was even moderately good at and now I’ve lost it so I am upset. My parents are disappointed in me, my teachers are disappointed in me, and I am disappointed in myself. I feel like dying. I have spent hours crying over it. They say I’m making too much of a fuss but I don’t believe them. How could they understand, how could they even HOPE to understand? They couldn’t. No one understands me EXCEPT me. One day I’ll be really famouse, they’ll all want to be friends with me and I’ll pretend I don’t know them. I can’t wait!

Thoughts from older me:

1. Did you pick up on the fact that I was a bit upset here? Because I think I was maybe a bit upset?

2. I didn’t wish I was better at English, I just wished I didn’t CARE about it. Oh, the burden of ambition!

3. I can guarantee that neither my teachers nor my parents would have said they were disappointed in me over this. I just made that up to facilitate THE DRAMA.

4. Speaking of DRAMA, I would personally have given myself a 1.1. for that, and I expect my teacher would have too, if she’d read this diary entry.

5. “No one understands me except me!” Well, you and psychiatrists (SHRINKS), Amber-Louise. Don’t forget the shrinks!

6. Forgot how to spell “famouse” again: perhaps this is the reason for my pathetically low grade?

7. Really dramatic turnaround there from “I want to die,” to “Actually, I think I’ll become famous just to spite everyone who doubted my ability to do better than third place for English.” Good plan, Amber-Louise! That’ll show ’em!

8. I’m guessing the “them” I’m going to pretend not to know is… my own parents? Didn’t really think this through, did I?

So, to summarise, I got a not-particularly-bad mark in an English test, and, because of that, I invented an entirely imaginary scenario in which everyone in the entire world was disappointed about it, then HATED them for it. This episode is so incredibly on-brand for me that I think I might have this entry about it carved into my grave or something…

Tuesday, February 6th, 1990

Today wasn’t too bad. I got my maths mark back it was really bad. I did pass, but only with 66%. I hate Chloe, she got more than me and gloated over it for the rest of the afternoon. Also, her, Lesley and Alexis got Joyce to write a letter supposedly from me to Kevin (Who is still a pain. I told him I’m going to Mr. Calder if he doesn’t stop annoying me.) The teacher got hold of it. I was really embarrassed.

Thoughts from older me:

1. I actually WAS (and still am) really bad at maths, but luckily I didn’t give a shit about maths, so no dramatics this time.

2. For once I’m not exaggerating when I say Chloe “gloated” over my mark: that’s the kind of person she was.

3. Mr. Calder was our guidance counsellor, who we would go to with any inter-personal problems we had at school. Needless to say, he saw quite a lot of me…

4. The fact that I described this day as “not too bad” really shows how low the bar was set here, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, February 14th, 1990

Valentine’s Day, and the postie didn’t bring anything for me. Chloe didn’t get anything either. It wasn’t too bad. Wednesday is our school’s half day so when I got home I checked the letterbox and there was a pink envelope there with ‘Miss Amber Louise McNaught’ on the front with no stamp or postmark. It was a Valentine’s card signed ‘Anon xxx’. I’m sure it was my grandad who sent it, either that or my parents, the writing is mature. I only wish, though…

[It was 100% my grandad, and I want to cry every time I think of this…]

Thursday, February 15th, 1990

I am sitting in my room. It is 9.39pm. Something strange has happened. I was in the bath, when the phone rang. Dad answered it. It was someone called Gary, who wanted to speak to me. Dad told him I was in the bath and he said he would call back. 10 mins later he did. I was still in the bath. Mum answered. This time he said his name was Gary McDonald and he needed to speak to me. Mum told him to call back in 10 mins time. I got out of the bath. He rang again. This time I answered. The conversation ran like this…

HIM: Is that Amber?

ME: YES (I could hear noises in the background)

HIM: It’s Gary again.

ME: Who IS Gary?

HIM: Gary McDonald.

ME: I don’t know any Gary McDonald.

HIM: I’m in 2nd year at [School in the next town]… (a pause) Will you go out with me?

ME: How did you get this number?

HIM: Click! (I.e he put the phone down.)

I am mad, to say the very least!!!! Obviously those dickheads at school have decided to play a joke on me. I HATE them!! Why me?! I could string them up for this, but won’t do anything. I AM MAD!

Thoughts from older me…

There’s just SO much to say here, isn’t there?

01. Gotta say, I’m LOVING the very clipped, terse tone I’ve adopted with this, in a dramatic departure from my usual, rambling style. “The phone rang. I was in the bath. It rang again. I was still in the bath.” Great stuff there, Amber, really sets the tone of suspense…

02. Really glad I clarified that “click” means he put the phone down, because otherwise you’d be thinking he literally said the word “click!”, wouldn’t you? (Actually, come to think of it, I bet a lot of younger people WOULD think that, because they wouldn’t know that phones used to make a clicking sound when you hung up. Aaaand now I feel OLD…)

03. Also really glad I clarified that I wasn’t ACTUALLY going to string my classmates up, I just WANTED to. Whew!

04. While Younger Me could find no other explanation for this strange event other than that “those dickheads” were straight-up messin’ with her, in retrospect I find myself wondering if Gary McDonald was, in fact, on the level? I mean, WHAT IF, people? What if Gary McDonald actually DID like me, and I totally blew it by assuming the worst? What if Gary McDonald was destined to be my soul-mate, and is, even now, sitting gazing at a faded old photo of my frizzy-haired, third-place-in-English self, thinking, “Ah, if only she hadn’t been in the bath that night! And if only she hadn’t been such a cynical, suspicious bitch into the bargain!” Are you out there, Gary McDonald? Do you still think about me, and what could’ve been? Will I be able to resist looking you up on Facebook as soon as I hit publish on this post?

Thursday, February 22nd, 1990

Average day. I can’t think of anything exciting that happened. Instead of home economics (We were supposed to be making a chocolate cake and were all looking forward to eating it) all the girls had to go to the technical department where an ex-pupil (female) gave us a talk on the career opportunities for a girl in a man’s world, the electronics industry. Although I personally hate anything technological, I am all for the idea of girls doing this kind of thing. I hate sexism, I think sexism is one of the most terrible things of the 80s, next to racism. I think racism is THE most terrible despicable thing in the world. I am really against it and I hate people who are racist. I would never go to South Africa and when I’m famous I won’t sell records there unless the situation has changed a LOT. Apartheid is SO STUPID!!!! WHY are people like this? In South Africa, black people do not have the same rights, they don’t get to vote, their children don’t get the same education as white people, they are treated as lower life forms. I think it is DISGUSTING!

Thoughts from older me:

  • Interesting to note that racism and sexism were both invented in the 1980s, and apparently didn’t exist before that?
  • Also interesting that I was apparently the first person in the world to fully realise how EVIL these things were!
  • “A girl in a man’s world…” SNORT.
  • It’s a little known fact, but apartheid actually only ended because they got wind of the fact that Forever Amber wasn’t going to sell her future records in South Africa unless they sorted themselves out. If only I’d started my singing career in the 80s, the world could’ve avoided racism altogether!
  • “I hate anything technological,” said the girl who grew up to earn a living on the internet that hadn’t even been invented yet. Yes.

Friday, February 23rd, 1990

Today we had swimming in the school pool. It was rotten.

[Like the state of Denmark, one presumes…]

Monday, February 26th, 1990

TERRIBLE DAY!!!! Know what REALLY bothers me most? [No, Amber, please tell us. No, wait: is it your looks again? Please say it’s not your looks again…] It’s my looks. [SIGH] As I have mentioned before [No, really, have you?] if I was OK looking, everything would be cool. But I’m not, so it isn’t. Instead, I’m forced to go through the whole school day feeling disgusting and inadequate. Of course, it doesn’t help that everyone else (Especially Chloe…) always comes to school looking like they’ve stepped off a fashion page in J17. [Just 17, a teen magazine of the era...] Maybe there is more to life than how you look? [Nah, it’ll just be about how you look, unfortunately. Soz.] I know there is, it’s personality that counts. But my personality isn’t much either. [Sad trombone] I wish, I wish, I wish. I wonder if life is like this for other people? I wonder if all the people I want to be like feel hopeless and inadequate too? Does Chloe, for instance? Probably not. Anyway, it’s my birthday soon, and I’ve told the wrinklies [Sorry, mum!] that I want clothes. I’m going to get my hair re-permed too then I’ll be perfect and won’t have to keep my jacket on, my head down and sit in a corner. [So… a magic perm, then? Gotchya…]

[Photo by pure julia on Unsplash]

books by Amber Eve