If I’d had a blog when I was fourteen years old, it would probably have been a lot like my teenage diaries from that year. Here are some extracts, for your amusement…
The only thing I can say about today is that it has been one of the most boring days in my life. We didn’t go ANYWHERE, and in the end I stayed home and watched the film version of the book Forever Amber which is one of of my favourite books of all time [FORESHADOWING!]… I was severely disappointed, the film was nothing like the book. I did like seeing my name up on the screen though!!
[Not just disappointed, SEVERELY disappointed. Being a teenager was SO HARD.]
My birthday! I’ve had a great time. When I came downstairs dad filmed me opening my presents. I got jeans, shoes, a new SONY MEGABASS walkman [LOLs!] and £40 altogether. I’m going to buy a shellsuit with the money.
[Note: this is a shellsuit. I wish I could go back in time, take that money, and buy her a nice dress instead. For when she’s older, you know? People who spend money on shellsuits don’t deserve to HAVE money…]
Today was not worth a comment.
Neither was today.
Tomorrow we are going into Edinburgh so that I can get a pair of wide leg jogging pants for going to see New Kids on the Block. I lurve Edinburgh!! [“lurve“?] It’s so busy and alive! There’s always something happening, which is more than can be said for this hole of a place. [Er, that took an unexpected detour into ‘bitter teenager’, didn’t it?]
[Also: Wide. Leg. Jogging. Pants.]
Mum and I went into Edinburgh to buy me clothes for the NKOTB concert. We managed to argue all the way around Edinburgh but it was worth it because I got some great clothes. [Bet you didn’t...] A bomber jacket with a sort of floral print on it (it’s cool) a pair of baggy trousers (they’re smart) a purple shirt (it’s rad) and a pair of mirrored sunglasses like the ones John Lennon (my hero!) wears on the cover of Imagine (they’re cosmic). I’m going to wear all that gear to the concert along with my black baseball cap, my multicoloured bum bag and my chunky trainers. I can’t wait!!!!!
[I promise I’m not making this up: I actually wrote that, with the ‘gear’ and the ‘cosmic’ and the multiple exclamation points. And yes, I WORE all that, too. Just like my hero, John Lennon.]
I had my hair permed today. It’s super cool, rad, amazing! [Bet it isn’t] It took 2.5 hours to perm because I have such a lot of hair [And then it took 2.5 years for the hair to recover] and Colette says she’s super jealous! I got a spiral perm and it turned out just the way I wanted it. I look like Neneh Cherry!!!!!
[This is Neneh Cherry:
The resemblance is uncanny, no? I was actually really surprised by how happy I sounded in this entry, because most of my diary entries are filled with self-loathing, and me banging on about how ugly I thought I was. Sure enough, though…]
Today started off real bad. I got out of bed and looked in the mirror and nearly fainted. My hair was a mess. [QUELLE SURPRISE.] All sort of frizzy and disgusting. I decided the only thing I could do was stay in and not been seen in public until I’ve had the chance to wash it (Sunday). So I decided to put my time in the house to good use and gave my room a thorough cleaning out. I was reading Just Seventeen magazine yesterday and it was all about New Age which is basically being a hippy and everything being pure and beautiful etc. The idea really appeals to me because I’m really into love, peace, unity, saving the earth, being a vegetarian and all that. [SNORT.]
It says in the magazine that cool names for the New Agers are hippy things like River, Leaf, Sunshine, Autumn, Charity and then it said (this was actually written in the magazine) that another cool name for New Agers is AMBER!!!!! It also says that bedrooms should be clinically clean and white with no mess anywhere [Hey, I wonder what they were smoking at Just Seventeen that year?] so that is what prompted me to clean my room. I’d really like to take all the furniture out of my room and just have a round bed in the middle of an empty room. That would be smart.
[It was ACTUALLY WRITTEN IN THE MAGAZINE, you guys. An ACTUAL MAGAZINE. WITH MY NAME IN IT. It was almost as good as that one time I saw the words ‘Forever Amber’ on the TV screen, and I was like, ‘OMG, that’s my name, only with ‘forever’ in front of it!!!!!!’]
* * *
And then it goes on like that for another couple of hundred pages, and then another twenty years or so.
Some thoughts from all of this:
* I sound SO YOUNG. I mean, I know I was fourteen at the time, but I look at fourteen year olds now, and they just seem so sophisticated. And there I was, obsessing over my hair, and thinking a pair of baggy jogging pants were the answer to all of my problems… And here I am now… obsessing over my hair, and thinking an ASOS dress is the answer to all my problems. This is pretty much what I was talking about when I wrote this post. I’m actually pretty freaked out right now, to be completely honest.
* BUM BAG. SHELL SUIT. BOMBER JACKET. BASEBALL CAP.
* Ever since I found this diary, I’ve been walking around saying, “I look like Neneh Cherry!” then almost wetting myself because I’m laughing so hard. It’s got to the point now where I just have to THINK that line, and I start laughing. Then Terry turns round, looks at me, and says, “Neneh Cherry?” and that sets me off again.
* At least I got the white bedroom, though. I just need the round bed, and I’m good. Because I’m, like, really into peace and love and baggy jogging pants, you know?
The other thing I keep thinking, though, is that there are plenty more of these teenage diaries, and they’re all more or less the same. I mean, I stopped wearing bum bags (Which you American’s call ‘fanny packs’… which makes us Brits laugh our asses off, because “fanny” means something else here…), and I DID learn my lesson with the perm, but I didn’t really seem to grow up much, or to, well, get some sense knocked into me. I cherry-picked the parts that were vaguely amusing, as opposed to downright embarrassing to show you here (Not that the bum bag and the shell suit aren’t downright embarrassing, obviously…), but the fact is that most of those diaries are absolutely cringeworthy – to an extent that makes it hard for me to even read them myself.
What do I do with these diaries, I wonder? Because I come across them every so often, and I’ve no idea what to do with them. I wrote them (or the earlier ones at least) with the intention of them one day being published (Yeah, yeah, I know…): I had this idea that one day they’d be discovered, and would provide a valuable insight into what it was REALLY like to be fourteen years old, with just a bad perm, a bomber jacket, and a pretty rad Walkman to your name. To be reading Just Seventeen magazine one day, and to think, “Oh hey, I think I’ll just change my entire personality to fit this article I read: I wonder if my parents will let me take all of the furniture out of my room?”
And, I mean, obviously that’s ridiculous (thinking the diaries would be published, I mean. Thinking I’d be an awesome hippy was pretty ridiculous too, though. I mean, I don’t even LIKE tie-dye?). And even if there weren’t any other ways to know what life was like in the late 20th century (Seriously, did I really think we didn’t have TV and stuff, and that it was going to be totally down to me to be the chronicler of our times? Who did I think I was, Samuel Pepys?), I wouldn’t be in any rush to offer up those diaries, because now that I’m able to look back on them with slightly more clarity, I can safely say that I would rather walk down the street naked than allow anyone AT ALL to read that stuff. Other than the bits I just put on the internet, obviously.
Teenage diaries: so full of angst…
Actually, I realise this is going to sound horribly morbid, but lately I keep worrying about what will happen to them if something happens to ME. I’d like to think no one would read them, and that they’d just burn them or something, but what if they couldn’t resist a quick peek, and they found the post that simply says, “HI I AM WRITING THIS WITH A BLACK EYEBROW PENCIL NEAT HUH?” And I was FOURTEEN. Seriously, fourteen year olds nowadays have all probably written books or something, but me, I had a black eyebrow pencil, and I wasn’t afraid to use it.
(I can sense a comparison between my teenage diaries and this blog trying to force its way to the front of your minds here. Please try to suppress that thought: that’s what I do…)
So I’m thinking I should get rid of the diaries, is what I’m saying. I’d bin them, but I’d still worry about someone finding them (I was in the habit of writing “THE SECRET DIARY OF AMBER LOUISE MCNAUGHT” on the flyleaf, and then following it up with my address, phone number and date of birth, then the names and addresses of everyone I’d ever known, so they’re not exactly “anonymous”, you know?), so burn them, maybe. But then, I know if I did that, I’d feel like I was somehow betraying the person I once was, who poured her heart and soul, and her dreams of looking exactly like Neneh Cherry, into those pages, and who did it so that one day she’d be able to look back and remember.
Sometimes I worry that I won’t: remember, I mean. What if I get Alzheimer’s or something (you think I’m joking, but I seriously worry about stuff like that: it’s one of my biggest fears, actually. Look, you’ve seen The Notebook, you get it…), and those diaries are all I have left? Well, those plus 2,000 blog posts and counting.
I’m not sure I can burn those diaries, then … but I’m not sure I want to keep them, either. I guess I’ll just have to hope I don’t get run over or something, huh?
So, tell me, fellow diarists – what do you do with your embarrassing old journals? Keep them? Burn them? Or were you lucky enough to not have compared yourself to Neneh Cherry in them in the first place?