Crushed Diaries

A blog for Young Adults

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Fancy Dress Party

I used to go to a party every weekend without fail when I was a teenager, but one of the most memorable ones was Tina’s fancy dress bash. Tina was an only child, who lived in a crumbling yellow house round the corner. Her mum was a character actress, who had appeared in millions of films but had only spoken one line of dialogue in each one. Her dad was a director who didn’t work any more, but stayed in bed all day long watching his old films on TV. He even ate his meals in bed. The only time when he went downstairs, was when he had to go out of the front door.

When Tina’s parents were invited to some film festival abroad, she decided to have a fancy dress party. They were always leaving her alone in the house, and couldn't care less if she wrecked it, as they didn’t have any prized possessions to worry about. They were cool, unlike my parents who went bananas if someone broke one of their ashtrays, even though they didn’t smoke.

I didn’t know whom to go as, so stuck a big, cartwheel hat on my head and pretended I was Princess Anne, that was because someone once told me I looked like her. Tina's Mum had made a huge soggy trifle with a mountain of red Smarties on top of the lumpy custard, and I was stuffing my guts on the sofa, careful not to let the goo drip down my moth-eaten fox fur stole, which Mum had once bought me from Portobello Road. I was sandwiched between a fat, bald girl dressed up as Noddy, and an effeminate boy who said he was Shirley Temple. I was just waving to a skinny creature who had a big flowerpot over his head, when I heard a terrific screaming and banging. All the lights dimmed, and I thought I was in an old fashioned horror show, especially when a couple of gorillas came running into the room, thumping their chests and howling. I almost choked on a Smartie.

‘That’s funny, I didn’t know gorillas sounded like hyenas,’ Noddy said.

The guests were unsure what to do, especially when Tina, dressed up as an ostrich, started screaming like she'd been shot. ‘Get those gatecrashers out of here. Call the police,’ she yelled hysterically. The boy who was dressed up as Shirley Temple sprung into action, and started to furiously dial 999 on the big white phone which was plonked on top of the white shaggy rug. But before he was able to splutter out an SOS to the police, one of the gorillas ran over and violently pulled the phone’s socket out of the wall. Noddy shrieked. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry when one of the beasts then whipped off its head.
‘Surprise!’ it yelled. It was Tina’s dad! The other gorilla also pulled it’s head off. It was Tina’s Mum, whose dyed pink whispy hair lay flat on her head like squashed candy floss.

‘We missed our plane,’ Tina’s Mum chortled.

‘We didn’t want to go to the film festival anyway,’ Tina’s dad said. They both went onto explain at length, how grown-ups like to do, how they had decided to play a trick on us by hiring the gorilla costumes for the night, so that they could give us a fright.

‘You weren’t frightened, were you Tina darling?’ Tina’s dad asked, putting a big hairy arm around her shoulders, before he sloped upstairs to have his supper in bed. Although Tina forced her thin lips into a grimace, I could see she was furious. Especially, when her Mum got all actressy and forced us all to play charades for the rest of the evening, a game which I’m hopeless at. After I mimed being a teapot for half an hour, pretending I was the dormouse in "Alice in Wonderland", I gave up. The rest of the guests weren’t thrilled either. They had come along to have some mindless fun, and there they were stuck with their hostess’s bossy mother, who was in her element, pretending she was Queen Kong for the night. I sneaked off home, and realised how lucky I was. Although my parents were a pain in the neck, and didn't trust me enough to leave me alone in the house for even one night, at least they were normal. Frances Lynn: copyright 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Pop Idol

My girlfriend happily allowed her teenage daughters to go clubbing with their friends every weekend, on the one condition that she collected them at the end of the evening. My mother never insisted on collecting me if I went out with friends when I was their age. She never imagined that anything bad would happen to me.

When I was fourteen, I used to be mad about pop music and spent all my pocket money on singles – this was the age of vinyl, before the invention of CDs. I had a goofy looking friend who was a couple of years older than me. She was mad about The Rolling Stones and had such a major crush on Mick Jagger, she was convinced if she ever met him he’d take one look at her and ask her out. Personally, I think she had a crush on his long hair, not on him as an actual person. I liked the Stones too – I preferred them to the Beatles, but I didn't tell my friend I had a secret crush on Brian, the dead blond one. I used to write him loads of fan letters but he never replied. So, when my friend miraculously got tickets to see the Stones perform on a live music TV show called ‘Ready Steady Go’, and invited me to accompany her, I screamed 'yes' immediately – before I even asked my mother’s permission. Mum happily allowed me to go along to the TV studio, all the way to Elstree (outside London) on the train, reasoning that my older friend would look after me. Mum says she would never have allowed me to come back home nowadays on a train late at night without a grownup escort, but she never used to worry about me.

‘The weekend Starts Here’ was the pop show’s slogan, and I knew my weekend had started with a fizzle and a bang when my simpering friend and I lined up outside the studio before the show. I was in heaven! All the cool looking boys were dressed in mod suits and had hair past their earlobes. All the girls looked cool too, and had long dead straight hair, which was the fashion then. Unfortunately for me, I had curly hair (still do), which meant I always had to iron my hair underneath brown paper on the ironing board before I went out. I know it sounds really daft now, but It was considered social suicide for a girl to have curly hair in those days.

So, there I was in my mini-skirt and black fishnet top, feeling very good about myself until the first drop of rain fell on my bare head. I immediately felt my hair frizzing into a balloon and wanted to go home there and then. ‘You’ve got to be with me when Mick Jagger asks me out,’ my friend screeched, furiously polishing her National Health glasses. I couldn’t leave her – after all she had invited me along in the first place, and no way did I want to miss seeing Brian, my idol in the flesh. So, I reluctantly followed her inside the studio, ignoring the sly sniggers from the other girls, because by this time my hair had frizzed out into an Afro – a wild hairstyle which hadn’t been invented then.

I felt so self-conscious about my frizzy hair, that I couldn’t truly enjoy myself, and was shell-shocked that Brian was smaller than I expected. I immediately went off him and regretted writing him all those soppy letters. As for my friend – she was mortified that Mick completely blanked her. Not surprising really, as I thought she made a right idiot of herself, when she jumped on stage and gave him a big hug. No one would have realised she was sixteen.

Mum didn’t have a clue what I was really up to until by chance, she switched on the TV and saw me on the show – cowering and grimacing behind The Rolling Stones with my hands held over my head. Funnily enough, she allowed me to go to the show with my friend again. But the next time I went, I made sure I took an umbrella with me.

Copyright: Frances Lynn 2008

Other Peoples' Parents

I was wearing my stolen brown velvet trouser suit from Biba when I first met Simon at a party round the corner. He was the first boy I had ever seen with long hair. It was bright orange, but his locks looked gorgeous against his turquoise blue velvet trouser suit. He offered to drive me home in his souped up mini, even though it would only have taken me a minute to walk back to my place. I thought he was cool, but his two best friends, Gavin and Jamie were even cooler. Simon lived with his father in a grotty basement flat in Baker Street, but Gavin and Jamie both lived in big modern houses in Hampstead Village. Gavin’s parents were very hospitable and were always inviting his friends round for tea. Gavin would lie elegantly on his parents’ chaise longue, and delight in being cynical. His father was a modern art dealer, so there were always lots of peculiar looking paintings on the walls, and I shall never forget the wallpaper as long as I live. Enormous pink eyeballs stared down at you wherever you went. However, Jamie’s parents were the most glamorous of the lot. His dad was a famous songwriter and his mum was a jazz singer who bought all her clothes from Fortnum & Mason’s. But, none of Jamie’s friends had ever met them as we had never been invited to his house.

On New Year’s Eve, we decided to crash some parties. Simon packed his friends into his mini, including a girl called Sally Anne who had suddenly ballooned out. She used to be so thin and pretty and always wore Biba smocks right up to her chin. Now she had to wear a kaftan to conceal her blubber. She had been on the pill since she was twelve, and her metabolism had gone wonky. Thank to Sally Anne’s bulk, it was a very tight squeeze in Simon’s mini, but I insisted on sitting in the front so didn’t end up like a squashed concertina like the others did. After we had crashed fifty parties, we were tired and emotional and desperate for sustenance.
‘Come back to my place for breakfast,’ Jamie said.
'I can't wait to meet your mum,' I enthused.
Jamie laughed grimly.
Simon was also dying to meet Jamie's mum and started to drive at one hundred miles per hour. His mini wasn't called 'souped up' for nothing. Once inside Jamie's big house, we all collapsed in a heap on the pristine white rug in the open plan living room, grateful we had survived the journey. Jamie fished out a magnum bottle of vintage champagne from the fridge and opened it with a flourish. ‘Happy New Year’s Eve,’ we all chorused, kissing each other on the cheeks, but I noticed that the boys didn’t kiss Sally Anne. I suppose they couldn’t bear to touch her, now that she had got fat. Anyway, we were in the middle of dancing frenetically around the room when Jamie suddenly grew hysterical, which was surprising, as he was normally so cool.
‘You’ve all got to leave straightaway, my parents have just returned,’ he exclaimed dramatically.
‘I’m not leaving until I meet your mum,’ I said drunkenly.
‘Get out!‘ Jamie shouted, but it was too late. His parents had just lurched into the room. I think Jamie’s dad must have been drunk, as he kept crashing into the furniture and was slurring ‘Old Man River’ on top of his voice, but his mum was the biggest shock. On TV, she was the most beautiful woman you had ever seen. Now, I noticed that her red lipstick was smeared all over her chin and her perfect blonde chignon was sticking out at a precarious right angle, revealing a grey frizz underneath. I never knew she wore a wig. ‘Jamie, get your friggin’ friends out of my house right now,’ she screamed, before falling flat on her face with her legs sticking up in the air. How disappointing, Jamie’s parents weren’t cool at all. In fact, they were almost as bad as mine.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2008


The Golf Twins

When I was fourteen I was quite a good golfer. Naturally, I didn’t dare tell any of my friends what I was up to, in case they thought I had gone senile. In fact, under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been caught dead on a golf course. Tiger Woods hadn’t been invented yet, and as far as I was concerned, the game was for old people and squares. My parents belonged to a fuddy-duddy golf club outside London, and every weekend, they used to religiously drive up there and play in matches called 'married fouresomes', whatever the weather. They repeatedly asked my twelve year old sister and myself if we wanted to become junior members, and each time we both said ‘no way’. I used to love ironing my hair before waltzing up and down Carnaby Street with my friends every Saturday, so I thought my little universe had ended when I was roped into having lunch with my parents at their stupid club one weekend.
‘Are you sure you don’t want to join?’ my father shouted, swigging back his gin and tonic and spilling soup down his shirt, while saluting a brigadier type whose nose looked like a bulging red sausage.
‘What for?’ I muttered, seething with resentment.
Then, I almost chocked on my frozen prawn cocktail.
‘I’ve changed my mind. I do want to become a junior member after all,’ I hissed.
‘What made you change your mind?’ my father barked.
But, my sister already knew, for I was staring transfixed through the dining room window in the direction of the first tee.
A pair of gorgeous blond twins were standing there, looking at least aged sixteen in their crazy diamond patterned sweaters and matching trousers.
‘The Pratchett twins have such marvellous golf swings,’ my mother said dreamily, as both of the twins whacked the ball up the fairway, not that I knew what a fairway meant in those days. And, to be honest I couldn’t care less.
‘Do you know them?’ I gasped, thinking my mother wasn’t such a bad old stick after all.
‘Everyone knows them. They’re the best players in the club,’ my father croaked.
I didn’t know one end of a golf stick from another, but all I was concerned about at that moment in time was following the glorious looking twins around the golf course, which I obsessively did for the rest of my school holidays. Every time I spotted them confidently striding towards the next hole, clutching their matching tartan golf bags, my heart would pitter-patter a little bit faster, and I’d run after them hoping they would notice me. I was hooked, until one of the twins actually deigned to speak to me when I mistakenly hit a golf ball right at his head. ‘You should have shouted fore,’ he shouted pompously, after ducking. What a drip! I never realised he had such a squeaky voice. I immediately lost interest in him and his twin brother, whom I quickly discovered had an even sillier voice. My parents were disappointed when I gave up golf on the spot. I realised it had been a complete waste of time putting the snooty twins on a pedestal, and shortly afterwards, discovered boys who smoked, listened to pop music and didn’t wear hideous Pringle sweaters.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crushed Goes Underground

Art on the Underground want to use extracts from my Young Adult novel Crushed in a book called "Piccadillyland", which will be distributed at both ends of the Piccadilly line (Heathrow Terminal 1,2 & 3, Cockfoster and Uxbridge) between June and December. So, travellers who use the Piccadilly line after arriving at Heathrow and London commuters will be able to get the book for free. Extracts from my books were chosen because I happened to mention several Piccadilly tube stations in my prose. Somebody who works for the London Underground must have read my books from cover to cover in order to discover this information, info which I had completely forgotten I had written! The book will contain extracts from 120 authors in total, so I presume they all wrote about stations on the Piccadilly line in their books as well.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I dedicated Crushed to Caroline de Lone, my niece who lives in Marin County.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Crushed Drawing

I'm amazed. A friend offered to buy one of my original drawings in Crushed today. Naturally, I said yes - letting him know he could have first option to buy all my other drawings in the book!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

World Book Day

The Mayfair library have booked me to read from "Crushed" and to give a talk on World Book day - March 2008!