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Back in the good old days April 6, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Lovely people, Really good day.

Once upon a time. about four years ago, three fifteen year old girls went into town.  Two of them bought cans of hairspray: one black, and one extra-resistant hold.  The third bought Doritos, and icecream.  Then they went to the park with a camera and much fun was had.

We look like utter imbeciles.  I remember the day: it was gloriously sunny.  We screwed up each other’s hair and sprayed it in place, then went home, one by car, one by bus, and one by train, with our hair at odd angles, looking like it had been half-dreadlocked.  The girl in the middle of the picture still had one ear covered in black at school two days later.  We met a boy, a friend from school, and he told us we looked like idiots.  People see the pictures to this day and say, you fools, what were you doing.  But we were fifteen, and if you can’t be a fool when you’re fifteen and you have time and money to spare, when can you be one?  That day for me is only sunshine, and laughing, and getting sat upon by two people whose names I shall not mention, ahem.

The three went to different universities: one in the north, one in the midlands, and one in the south.  They say you look back at yourself aged fifteen, years later, and the person you see is impossibly cute and glamorous.  They also say that who you are and who you know when you’re young shapes who you are when you’re older.  I look at this picture, and I don’t see glamour.  I don’t see beauty.  (Sorry, chaps.)  I don’t see cuteness.  What I see when I look at this picture is people who accepted me for all my foibles, my inadequacies, my idiosyncrasies.  I see people who had idiosyncrasies in shedloads.  I see people who are proud to be who they are, who are powerful in their own small universes, and who would tell you where you could stick it if you said otherwise.  I see girls who like sex, and who talk about it, and are open about it, even though we hadn’t got that far at that age.  I see crude, and immature, but immeasurably funny jokes.  I see people who aren’t entirely opposed to the idea of a bottle of vodka in the park.  I see people who used to go to the top of John Lewis, press the button to go down, each get in the first lift they saw and raced to the bottom of the lowest car park.

I’ve spent the years since I was that age discovering that not everybody is like that.  Some people feel uncomfortable with immaturity, and friendly boob squishes.  Most people seem to care about who’s watching them, and would prefer to have some form of dignity in doing so.  That’s taken me a while to get to grips with, because we were the sort of people who’d jump on each other in the street and put each other in a headlock.  You could do that then.  It was marvellous.  I’m kind of proud of who we were, then, even though I know some people didn’t like it.  We didn’t hurt anyone.  Nobody could touch us.

For you people who’ve met me since: this is where I came from.  Are you surprised?



1. Flix - April 6, 2010


This is great. Heart-warming, easily related-to and just so true.

My parallel day involved orange hair dye and multi-coloured wool. It took forever to get out but it was so worth the pain, just for the memories.

2. Flix - April 6, 2010

Oh, and friendly boob squishes? That made me laugh aloud.

3. Fiona - April 6, 2010

They make the world go round. I was shocked and appalled when I was effectively shunned by a group of girls last year for the suggestion that girls find boobs just as intriguing as boys do. Implications aside, I think friendly boob squishes are the female equivalent of a bromance.

Flix - April 8, 2010

Lol, a guy asked me after observing friendly boob bump with a girl – “you’re not…into…that…sort of thing…are you?” What, being affectionately tactile with my girlfriends? Why yes, yes I am. 😛

4. Martin - April 6, 2010

Meh, you haven’t changed a bit! :-p

(…from the photo. Not the blog.)

Anyway, awesome photo.

Fiona - April 7, 2010

I know, right? And I still get IDed EVERYWHERE and mistaken for a thirteen-year-old. Pssh. Think it might be my favourite photo I’ve ever been in, though.

mikel - April 7, 2010

Think of the money you’ll be saving on train fares and so on. Mind you that may be my Scots upbringing speaking there 🙂 And yes awesome photo and hairdo.

5. annadegenhardt - April 8, 2010

On the plane, they thought I was a child flying unaccompanied. The number of “are you okay there dear” and “you’re being very brave, sweetheart”s I got was impressive.

Oh, and “are your parents meeting you at the airport? do you have someone to collect you?” was a lovely and concerned question. I felt like a twelve year old when it turned out not to be the case…

(that’s in relation to being treated as a thirteen-year-old…)

Anyway, yes, I miss days like this. I had a good few in my time. And I’m always happy to be affectionately tactile with friends; alas, most of my new friends aren’t. And one of them hates being touched so screams at hugs…


6. Jenny - April 11, 2010

You have changed, yes, but I can see where you came from and how it all makes sense. I think good friends who are idiosyncratic and love you for all your idiosyncracies can be found all over the place, but that they are rare beasts. That said, I came across my beloved housemate H (you two MUST MEET) lying on her back the other day waving her arms and legs in the air and she told me she’d been doing that for at least half an hour because she was pretending to be a tortoise that had got stuck on its back and was trying to rock its way back upright. I got very affectionately teased for all sorts of odd things at the last couple of parties I went to. And I have discovered that if you make absolutely no apologies for who you are and don’t allow yourself to hold back for a second on saying the things you’d say without a second’s thought around people who already know you, you’re far more likely to make friends and be accepted like that.

7. mikel - April 12, 2010

quite right too Jenny. Incidentally there used to be a “dance” called the dying fly a goodly number of years ago that involved lying on your back waving your arms and legs in the air must have been fun on the dance floor with everyone doing that 🙂

Fiona - April 12, 2010

REALLY?! If I trusted any dance floor I ever came across not to be covered in god-knows-what, I would so do that. That’s fantastic.

8. Lucy - April 12, 2010

‘Dead ants’, that’s known as in my vocubulary. It’s a sort of flashmob thing – someone shouts “Dead ants!” wherever and you all lie on your back and do it!

9. Antony - April 12, 2010

Leggenderry, that’s what that is.

I honestly can’t say if you’ve changed cause I’ve no idea who you are anyway. How comes I never met you in Durham, you sound like a bundle of laughes? Martin, get me on it. Now.

Anyway, regarding moments like these, I always express them in terms of my music library. Specifically, these words: “…and we all sit rouund here in our home town it’s so good like this these are times we’ll miss, the memories I hope will never fade…” (Lostprophets – Last Summer).

Fiona - April 12, 2010

I’ve no idea. I feel I’ve missed out a bit. Coming up this term, perchance? Get in touch, we’ll coincide for a drink!

I was so close to titling this from Blue Remembered Hills, actually. Good poetry, but I use it far too often:

Into my heart, an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills?
What farms, what spires are those?
That is the land of lost content;
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
-AE Houseman

Antony - April 17, 2010

I shall do my best to attend Durham during the final term post-exams so that everyone is free.

I shall attempt to borrow some space on Martin’s front room floor again and hopefully our paths will cross, preferably in one of Durham’s many coffee shops. Perhaps Vennels? I really don’t care where, actually, if it sells tea and caramel slice, I am there.

I currently work a lot, so I might have to see what I can do.

10. Antony - April 12, 2010

P.S. That’s a wicked picture.

11. Jenny - April 13, 2010

The thing is, though, that I have got a friend or two who literally can’t let go of the blue remembered hills and how things used to be in our old home town. I mean, I have some very fond memories of surreal and messy nights in fields, of ice-cream and badminton at my house and endless hours at the Heath and things, but that doesn’t mean I want to go back to those times and recreate them now. Nostalgia is all very well, acknowledging that no friendships since have perhaps been quite the same is fine, but I don’t like it when people can’t accept that those times have been and gone and we’re not fifteen any more and the world has got a lot more complicated since those times because things outside of friendships – things like work and fending for yourself and study – actually matter now. GCSEs kind of felt like a game – and anyway, you grow up, and even those friendships get more complicated, you want different things, and you move on. So I’ve onl got a couple of friendships from schooldays that have lasted even up until now, and yes, there are friendships I regret losing, but, well, it just is.

It’s raining today and it’s the first proper day of revision and I’m feeling a bit homesick and I really don’t want to go back to my house. I should probably have said none of this.


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