As Diary of a Teenage Girl hits the cinemas, Standard Issue writers re-read their young scribblings and shake their heads.
January 20, 1994:
My school bag is so heavy that I’ll definitely end up with a twisted spine. I have to carry 8 books, my violin and my art folder on the bus on a Wednesday and it’s impossible.
Today is a very special day, it is Gary Barlow’s birthday! I did 2 poos today. Alison sat next to Michelle in French so I looked like a right idiot! She is such a b*!*h.
I got 28/28 on my French test. My mum says that I might be able to buy an insulated flask from Sainsbury’s with the £2.90 I’ve got left out of my Easter money! I still love MK. I went to bed at 21:49.
My five-year Winnie the Pooh diary was the HQ of my teenage pedantry. Not a single shit was unaccounted for, no celebrity birthday was forgotten (thanks to Smash Hits magazine) and every single bedtime was recorded for five years. I wrote nothing of interest in that time. Not a single thing. I was the single most boring individual the world had ever produced.
If an international spy needs some background reading on how to be the UK’s least interesting teenager, gimme a shout, I’ll hit you up with some inane facts and figures until literally no one is interested in you. Which is exactly how I spent my teenage years. I did end up buying the flask though, in case you were wondering. It was awesome.
Daisy Leverington (@daisyjoy)
The year 1979 in rural Cumbria was dull. The internet hadn’t been invented, there was not much on TV – evidently the cultural highlight of the year was an episode of It’ll Be All Right On The Night – no transport, limited phone use and no money. Browsing through the intermittently written pages of my diary, it’s clear I wasn’t having much fun: plodding through The Mill on the Floss, listening to Elton John and falling in love with a series of weaselly little fuckwits, all of whom appeared to prefer my more glamorous friend M.
M, according to an outraged entry in March, not only had “big tits” but a perm. No wonder she ensnared the gorgeous red-haired G. He signalled his intentions by catching a 14oz brown trout and selling it to her for the knock-down price of 65p. There’s nothing in my diary entry that suggests anything about this courting ritual was out of the ordinary, although, two days later I’m furious on M’s behalf when G chucks her because she refused his offer to go “to the Green” with him.
“At 16, I manage to turn an out-and-out offer of sex into ‘this man hates me and I am ugly; no one will ever love me’ in the space of one paragraph. Quite a talent.”
By May, I was preoccupied with a love triangle between M, a sixth former – N – and me. Affairs came to a head after a Status Quo concert. M got off with N – even though she knew I fancied him and she said she didn’t like him – and I didn’t have the sense to stop being friends with her. I did, however, transfer my affections to another N, the enigmatic Nic, and spent the remainder of 1979 interpreting his abrasive lack of interest and occasional hostility – “He said, ‘…will you bugger off?’” – as supressed passion.
The choice of detail is peculiar. I wrote nothing about my much anticipated 14th birthday in June, but the 10th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death is noted, as are my fourth-year exam results: Physics (16/20), English (9/10), French (11/12) and German (20/22). I listened anxiously to the ‘Ripper’ tape on the radio and made a failed caramel custard in cookery.
The diary peters out in October despite my earnest promise in my final entry to “bring back each day in vivid colour”. It’s probably just as well.
Sarah Ledger (@sezl)
My teenage diary is excruciating. Until age 13, it’s mostly “I ate some food. It was good.” Then I discover feminism, CND and vegetarianism. There’s a double page spread of slogans and peace signs. “Make Tea Not War.” “It takes 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat but only one to wear it.” My bum hurts with embarrassment.
Then it’s just a series of cod psychology character assassinations of my friends, and a lot of yearning after boys who aren’t interested and utterly ignoring the ones who are. At 16, I manage to turn an out-and-out offer of sex into “this man hates me and I am ugly; no one will ever love me” in the space of one paragraph. Quite a talent.
The Eurorailing section is a case in point. My friend and I met two busker brothers, Loc and Con, in Prague. They were so cool and just damaged enough to make a teenage girl’s heart quicken. We were so in love with them and couldn’t understand why nothing happened.
I can understand now. Reading back it’s quite clear that while I was all about Loc, Con had the hots for me, but Kate had chosen him, so I didn’t give him a second thought. We were totally clueless. Oh, I could have lost my virginity so much earlier!
Also my favourite film was Interview With A Vampire. I really thought it was about my life. I thought I knew everything and I knew nothing. At least now I know I know nothing. It all makes me really glad that social media didn’t exist then. At 16, 17, 18 you’re so gauche but think you’re so sophisticated; now that’s played out in public. At least now I can choose which bits of horror I share – and believe me, there’s much worse.
Ruth Bratt (@ruthbratt)3573 Views
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.