Monday, 28 September 2009

The London Cringes: Things people wrote when they were younger

The Times had an article recently about a movement called the London Cringes, which seems to be essentially a group of people reading aloud their childhood writing. I've been meaning to post about it ever since. I wonder if in 20 years we will be doing the same thing in relation to our earliest blog posts?

Anyway, I especially liked this one by Alicia Wolfe who was 13 when she wrote this in her diary in 1990:

Alicia’s Rules for Parenting, 1990

1. Telephones in their rooms is a must

2. Pay for them to subscribe to one to two magazines. Reading is good for them, and everyone likes to get post.

3. Support their hobbies. (If they have an abnormal obsession with James Dean, so be it.)

4. If they mention a boy’s name, but don’t want to talk about it further, don’t make them, and don’t tease them about it.

5. Don’t give them the tatty, worn out towels. If you get new towels, they get new towels.

6. Rent a film they will want to watch when you have a babysitter.

7. Keep Spaghetti Hoops in the cupboard.

8. Do their laundry. They are far too busy to think about having enough clean underwear, and it’s not that difficult.

9. Explain puberty honestly. Don’t use stupid sayings that will confuse them (the birds and the bees) and don’t give them leaflets from 1952.

10. If you have to buy them something expensive for school, don’t make it their birthday present.

11. Don’t let their siblings wake them up at 4:00 AM to clean their hair out of the shower drain.

12. Keep more than Diet Coke in the house. Everyone else has normal Coke, and your children will be regarded as weirdos for their abnormal taste in diet.

13. If it is cold in the house, turn on the heating. If it is hot in the house, open a window.

My old teenage diary is at home in what used to be my bedside table (a cabinet that once started life as my Dad's sock drawer, until he gave it to me). Then I used to store it in the space that was left if you pulled out the bottom drawer. Last time I went home it was in the top drawer. But then I got married and a sister swapped rooms with me, and my room became hers and hers became the guest room and my stuff moved up to the loft. I think.

But if I could find the diary, I can tell you what I would find. My 14 year old self, in 1996, was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio. Specifically, the Romeo & Juliet Leonardo. That and boys and church and self doubt and friendship issues which were so dramatic at the time that I can't even recall the things that I spent so long crying and writing about in a dark candle lit room with joss sticks burning and taped music playing whilst wearing leggings and army boots and nasty jumpers purchased from charity shops.

The funny thing is though, when Husband and I were talking about fancy dress costumes for the upcoming Halloween engagement party and how, maybe, if we parted his hair right and put him in the right coat, he might pull off Christian Slater circa 1989, he told me that when he was aged 14, he wanted to look like Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo & Juliet.

Looks like we were meant to be...


Marie said...

I think my 14 year old self was going through being bullied at school. I never did keep a diary but I remember that time pretty rawly still. I did find some angsty writings when I was last at home, the venom of which surprised me. Ah well, onwards and upwards as they say!

Love that fact that you and husband both thought about Leo DiC from Romeo and Juliet, you must have been meant to be...

Rachel said...

Marie, that's awful. I guess that's kind of what I was alluding to with 'friendship issues' but it's still sad to hear that your memories are still so raw.

I think young teenage girls in particular have an ability to be so very cruel without realising the impact it has on others.

chicncheap said...

The list of parenting tips is really lovely and precious. It's funny how many of us say "I'll never do that to my kids!" Then of course we end up doing them because we now have unforeseen wisdom or we realize we have to implement some rules for kids.

Oh dear the early teenage years and high school - awkward and strange times. I remember finding out that my best friend at the time was cutting me down and hooking up with a guy I almost went out with. Not sad to leave those days behind.

Oh and I would love to stop by the vintage shop at Sardo some Sunday! I didn't know they had one!

Rachel said...

No, I wasn't sad to leave 14 behind either.

The vintage shop is Shikasuki and is opposite Sardo, on opp side of street from the Engineer pub. :)

Bells said...

"8. Do their laundry. They are far too busy to think about having enough clean underwear, and it’s not that difficult."

That one really made me laugh - oh, the arrogance of youth!

Peonies and Polaroids said...

How strange, I have the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack on right at this very moment!

I think I kept a diary when I was 14 but I hope I never ever find it. I'm cringing just thinking about it.

Krista said...

I love this post.

And I love your love of R+J. I loved it, too. I loved Leo, and I loved Claire Danes. I thought it was a match made in heaven!

I love this girl's innocence. And I agree with her: if the parents get new towels, so should the kids. So sweet in her democracy!

Marie-Ève said...

Lovely post... I too had a R&J phase, although I was a bit older than all of you girls and already in university. Not too long ago, someone I had not seen since that time told me he was always associating the thought of me with that soundtrack.

I don't really like my 14 year old self. That year was the worst of my life (father getting ill, learning mother had an affair, parents divorcing, selling our beloved home...) I think my 14 year-old self was a bit numb and reacting to all of that by doing quite dumb things.

My 12/13 year old self was cuter and more interesting, dramatically listening to British alternative music in my room, writing, dreaming of a more intense life, thinking no one understood me.