I went home to revel in the bosom of maternal comfort* twice recently. Once when I had three wisdom teeth torn asunder from my poor innocent gums (top life tip: don’t get this done on the day of state opening of Parliament so all the roads are closed and instead of getting picked up from hospital by your daddy, you have to trek across London on the tube drooling blood like a triffid or whatever); more recently for a heartbreak-poverty combo over Jubilee weekend (payday, inconveniently, was the Wednesday. THANKS A BUNCH, WORK/ROYALS).
*Lolsome if you know my mother, a woman whose work nickname was “The Dragon Lady” and whose hero was ER‘s Dr Romano.
Uh, anyway, when I stop the night in my teenage bedroom I am POWERLESS to resist the lure of teen nostalgia. Never mind that my parents have thrown out my sofa (yes, I had a sofa in my teen attic bedroom, it was quite the bachelorette pad), torn down my Homage to Steffi Graf Collage and posters, and repainted the attic from its glorious “Monica’s Apartment in Friends” mint green, lavender and rose pink colour scheme.
(Uh, do I sound spoiled, with my fancy pastel attic room and sofa and that? I should add I got 25p pocket money a week, wasn’t allowed to watch Neighbours till I was 15 because it was “racy” and my mum once humiliated me on a pre-school-trip parent-teacher info night by putting her hand up and asking if one of the teacher’s husbands had been police checked for perversion.)
What did I like as a teenager? Well, I went through OBSESSIONS. Age 13, it was ALL about Steffi and Wimbledon and tennis players and OMG. Age 14, I discovered Tennyson and the Lady of Shalott. I spent a lot of time wearing a long white nightgown from Past Times (RIP) and striding dramatically across my bedroom declaring my love for Lancelot. (((((ROMANCE))))) Age 15 was all about My So-Called Life, which I still can’t even talk about because it’s Just. Too. Much. Nintendo was my BFF for many of these phases, btw.
(The Lady of Shalott phase is mildly less tragic than my 11-year-old obsession, the Phantom of the Opera, the final act of which I MEMORISED and PERFORMED, sans accompaniment, ALL THE PARTS, for my class at school. They stared at me, mesmorised, as I committed social suicide.)
There was the Ralph Fiennes/English Patient phase, which inspired my keeping my diary not in a notebook or, y’know, a DIARY, but written into a copy of Hamlet, scrawled between the lines:
To be, or not to be, that is the question
OMG I TOTALLY HATE HER HOW DARE
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer
SHE READ MY NOVEL IN PROGRESS**
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
ALSO WHAT DO PENISES LOOK LIKE?
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
**My “novel in progress” was the first in a sci-fi-fantasy-spy-thriller-teen-romance-superhero trilogy, called Trailing Clouds of Glory (from a Wordsworth poem I hadn’t fully read, pretentiousness ahoy!). It opened with a DARK AND STORMY prologue where ELVIS, the head of a mysterious superhero/spy training operation, worried about our heroine getting killed when she went to university/secret superhero training college, because he could see the future and death was, like, totes a possibility. I opened each chapter with pertinent song lyrics/Biblical quotes (only from the cool bits, like Revelations) and planned to star in the inevitable film adaptation.
But, best of all, was the KENICKIE PHASE. I truly pity today’s teenagers, who don’t have Kenickie. Sure, they can buy the albums and hear the music, but it bain’t the same as hearing Kenix on the Mark & Lard show (used to fall asleep to that with my headphones in then wake to random Radio 1 stuff at 2am and be bog-eyed at school the next day) or wearing chazza shop leopard-print coats over shiny PVC stuff and slathering yourself in Barry M glitter and that being totally normal. (Don’t talk to me about Camden where they still do that, it’s not the 1990s and it’s not the same.) So much <3 I can’t even.
ANYWAY. In my two recent trips home I basically photographed a bunch of my crap from the KENICKIE PHASE, which also coincided with the JUST SEVENTEEN phase: publishers of my first-ever article! It was headlined “What makes cool?” and the answer was basically, like, um, your attitude? And not, like, your clothes, and stuff? It also included a hilarious Posh Spice joke and had a byline pic of me taken by my then BFF next to the pond featuring my cropped haircut and Dorothy Perkins ensemble. (Still gots every issue from when it was a monthly.) Times, they were good.
Anyway, that was your insight into “Harriet as a Teenager”, I’m sure you were fascinated.