Crushed Diaries

A blog for Young Adults

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I used to love Christmas, especially when I woke up on Christmas day and saw a bulging stocking at the foot of my bed. Even when my grumpy middle sister informed me Father Christmas didn’t exist, I continued to be excited. Before I realised that boys were a different species, one of the best and worst Christmases I ever had was when Mum and Dad gave my two sisters and myself a hoola hoop for Christmas. The hoola hoop craze had just hit the United Kingdom, and it was one of the happiest moments in my life when I woke up and saw my shocking pink hoola hoop lying at the foot of my bed. My sisters were also given one, and Mum even bought one for herself. So, there we all were hoola hooping like crazy and whooping like there was no tomorrow.

After all the excitement, Mum cooked the most enormous goose, and a bucket of roast potatoes cooked in goose fat for lunch. If all that wasn’t stomach churning enough, dad then poured so much brandy over the Christmas pudding, it caught fire and for a horrible moment I thought that we would have to call the fire brigade. But luckily, dad ran out into the concrete garden, carrying the flaming pudding, still on its silver tray and threw the pudding onto the ground. Mum was furious as she had made the pudding herself, and we all ended up eating tinned peaches, but I didn’t mind as I didn’t fancy burnt pud, thank you very much.

In the evening my two sisters were chasing me round the room and pushed me on top of a dolls pram, which my grandmother had bought me for Christmas. It must have been very cheap as the pram had knife-sharp edges, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the side of my face sliced open like a split watermelon. Funnily enough, I didn’t feel a thing, but I knew something was disastrously wrong when I ran into the kitchen and saw Mum drop the frying pan (she was warming up the chestnuts).

Poor Mum almost had a heart attack. She was so shocked, she couldn't even scream, but looked all peculiar - like she had seen a ghost. She had the sense to turn off the gas, and then wrapped my face in a tea towel. Luckily, she had a doctor friend who lived in the neighbourhood, and called him up pronto. Even though it was Christmas day, he agreed to see me straight away. Poor Mum drove like a maniac to the doctor’s house, managing to hold my face together with the tea towel. She probably would have been arrested these days, as she only had one hand on the steering wheel.

The doctor was very nice and cracked stupid jokes, while he stitched me up. He said I was very brave and gave me a huge helping of homemade Christmas pudding, which he said was full of coins. I found loads of them and was so happy, although Mum wasn’t, as the doctor had stitched up the side of my face like it was a piece of leather or something. In fact, Mum and Dad wanted me to have plastic surgery to make the bumpy stitches look smoother, but I was having none of it. Nobody could see my stitches anyway unless my face blew out after I had eaten a lot of walnut cake. Then, they bulged along my jawbone like a pink row of mangled chewing gum.

After the accident, my parents made a huge fuss over me, and my sisters were full of remorse. They even gave me their precious packets of lemon sherbet which had been stuffed in our Christmas stockings as a treat. So, all in all it had been a very profitable Christmas even though I must admit, I did end up looking a bit wonky.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tap Dancing Karma

I was so hell-bent on becoming a good tap dancer that I secretly attended the beginner’s tap class at the Dance Centre. It was held at the same time as the advanced class, but the advanced class was held in a big studio on the first floor, while the beginner’s tap class was held in a tiny studio in the basement. It was really like having a private lesson, because there were only four of us in the class. The middle-aged teacher was a patient man, and didn’t get angry when we couldn’t master the steps or the simple routines he tried to teach us. Beverley and Stacey, my school friends didn’t know I was learning how to tap in secret, and once when I bumped into them in the changing room, they asked me what I was doing there. I lied and said I was going to do a modern jazz class. Luckily, I hadn’t put my new tap shoes on yet. I was so enthusiastic about learning tap, that I had begged my Mum to buy me a pair of red tap shoes from Gamba for Christmas, even though it was nine months away. They were my prized possession.

Soon, I had enough confidence to infiltrate the advanced tap dancing class, and sure enough when I made my grand entrance, there were Beverley and Stacey hogging the front row.
‘What are you doing here?’ Stacey sneered.
‘The same as you,’ I replied.
The last time I disgraced myself in the advanced class, I wore a pair of shabby jeans, but this time I made sure I was dressed in proper dancing gear: black knitted bell-bottoms and a shiny black leotard top - another early Christmas present from Mum. So, here I was harmoniously blending in with the In crowd.

I still wasn’t confidant to stand at the front with my old school friends, but stood in the row behind them. Let them look at my reflection I thought, but just before the class started, a late arrival, an extraordinary creature who was at least six foot tall, barged in and stood directly in front of me. He was dressed up like a daffodil, and had ringletted hair which stuck out at a one hundred and degree angle, so that I was unable to see the teacher – but looking on the bright side – she couldn’t see me. The creature must have been a pop star or something as Beverley and Stacey were all over him, but he was very cool and ignored them. I don't think he intentionally meant to be rude. It was like he was from another planet.

The class went very well and I was delighted I could keep up with the tap toe steps, then at the end – the teacher told us all to partner up. I was amazed when the creature turned round and asked me to team up with him. Beverley and Stacey’s mouths hung open, and they didn’t seem too happy when they were stuck partnering each other. The creature and I then tapped together in front of the whole class, and everyone, apart from Beverley and Stacey applauded. After the class, the creature asked me out for a cup of tea, but I didn’t ask my old school friends to join me. After all, they hadn't invited me out after I had embarrassed myself, when I was a complete beginner in the advanced class.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

My Old School Friends

Stacey and Beverley were my two best friends at boarding school, but when I left, I didn’t think I would see them again, as they lived in the Midlands and I lived in London. But how wrong could I be? A few months later, I bumped into Beverley in High Street Kensington one afternoon. She still had long blonde hair, which she was swishing all over the place like a big pendulum, but she had changed. She no longer chewed gum, but smoked furiously instead, and had her head on one side, while fluttering her eyelashes at the boys who were passing by. I thought she was behaving like a daft monster, but the boys all smiled at her, so I thought she must be doing something right. After we had finished flinging our arms around each other, she stamped her feet on the pavement a few times.
‘Did you tread on some chewing gum?’ I asked.
‘No. I’m practicising my tap. Do you want to come tap dancing with me?’ she asked.
Naturally, I said yes, even though I didn’t possess any tap shoes.
‘Do you see Stacey at all?’ I asked.
‘Of course. All the time. Her father got her a wonderful job in London in public relations,’ she said.
That’s funny, I thought. Stacey used to be stout and have red hair, and I couldn’t picture her having a glamorous job.
‘She’s going to be at the tap class, so we’ll all have a class reunion,’ Beverley said.
At the Dance Centre, I borrowed a pair of tap shoes which were much too big for me, and stood at the back of the class so I could copy everybody. When the teacher arrived, she stood behind me, which I thought was a bit peculiar.
‘Everyone turn round and face me,’ she announced.
I could have died with embarrassment, for I was now in the front row and had nowhere to hide. Also, I had nobody in front of me to copy. Mind you, there were big mirrors on the walls, and I saw that Beverley was right behind me, so I decided to copy her reflection in the mirror. I just prayed that nobody would realise I was a complete beginner.
‘You! Are you a beginner?’ the teacher shouted, pointing at me.
‘Yes,’ I mumbled, flushing bright red.
And, then I saw a flash of red hair behind me. It was Stacey who was pushing her way to the front row until she was standing next to me. I hardly recognised her. She had lost a lot of weight and looked like a fashion model.
‘Long time no see,’ she sneered, slowly looking me up and down, which was unfortunate as I was wearing a pair of faded jeans. Everyone else in the class was wearing professional looking dance costumes. Stacey's hair was redder than ever, and she had an enormous pair of gold hoop earrings clipped in her ears. She had masses of makeup plastered over her face, and was dressed in a scarlet shiny leotard, with a pair of matching coloured leg-warmers clutching her thighs.
‘You look so different,’ I gasped.
‘I had a nose job for my birthday.’
‘One, two, three!’ boomed the teacher.
I had no idea what I was doing, and tried to copy Stacey out of the corner of my eye. She was a natural, and was such a good tap dancer she could have partnered Fred Astaire. I could also observe Beverley‘s smug reflection in the mirror, and saw that she knew what she was doing, which was more that could be said for me. I was a disaster, and after I had banged into Stacey for the twentieth time (she actually swore at me), the teacher took me aside.
‘You don’t belong here, this is an advanced class. Go to the back,’ she said rudely.
I swore that Stacey smirked, while Beverley looked at me with condescending pity. It was at that moment in time, that I realised my school days were definitely over, for I could see the girls were no longer my best friends, especially after they sneaked out to have a coffee together after the class without asking me.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Walking The Dogs

I used to take Honey and Sophy for long walks round Regents Park, which is a good fifteen minutes from where I live. Us three always used to go by foot to the park (we never caught the bus), but I didn’t mind as I knew that walking on the pavement was good for the dog's toenails. There were dogs of all shapes and sizes in the park, and Honey and Sophy used to know them all. They all used to run towards each other, wagging their tales and barking, except Honey and Sophy didn’t bark much – they were too refined! I used to know all the dogs’ owners in the park. Paul McCartney has a house nearby, so he was always there walking his sheepdog. He was nice and friendly and always smiled at my dogs and I always used to smile at his dog, who seemed nice but was not nearly as delectable as my whippets. Paul even asked a friend of my mum’s to go with him someplace in the country so they could run their dogs around there, but my friend’s Mum was an old fogey who didn’t realise he was a Beatle so turned down his invitation. She thought he wanted to get off with her, which was ridiculous as Paul was young enough to be her son. I even got friendly with an old gangster in the park – well I didn’t know if he was a real gangster, but he wore knuckle-dusters, and had huge Great Danes which he said guarded his house day and night.

Mum loved our whippets so much, she even raced them outside London. She had quickly dumped her dreams of showing them at Crufts dog show, when she was told that their ears stuck up too much. They weren’t pedigree enough. Honey and Sophy loved racing, and so did Mum, as she was the only lady who raced her dogs. All the other whippet owners were men who wore caps, drank out of hip flasks, and rolled up their cigarettes with a vengeance. Yes, it was great having dogs as you always had a wonderful excuse to speak to other people who had four legged best friends. Mind you, the owners never looked at each other, but just looked at each other’s canine pets all the time.

After Honey died in his dog basket during the night (I still can't bear to think about it), Sophy got a bit peculiar and hated being left alone in the house by herself. She used to cry and cry until one of us returned to give her another bowl of water and a doggy chocolate drop. All the neighbours used to complain about Sophy’s crying but there was nothing we could do about it.

I used to look after some black lurchers (they were a cross between greyhounds and whippets), who belonged to some friends who lived up the road. Once I even slept in their house while they were away. It was bonfire night, so I went out to a fireworks party, but felt very worried about leaving the lurchers alone in the house, especially as I knew that the eldest dog hated fireworks. In fact, I had a intuition that something was wrong, so I left the party early and hurried back to the house. My worst fears were realised. The police were outside. Apparently, the dogs had gone berserk and had somehow managed to set off the alarm bell, which had been ringing since I left. They were so relieved to see me and I was so relieved it wasn’t a burgulary – the police had come in with me to check that nothing had been stolen, I cooked a filet steak which was festering in the fridge, and gave it to the dogs for their dinner. I then fed them both loads of doggy chocolate drops and allowed them both to sleep in my bed. Luckily, they weren’t sick. After the owners came back, I bumped into them in the street. They were with the lurchers who jumped up all over me and cried and sobbed when the owners led them away. I used to love those lurchers, but they weren’t nearly as adorable as Honey and Sophy.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Pet Whippets

The first dog that my parents had before I was born was a black cocker spaniel called Sammy, who swallowed a stone and died. Mum wasn’t sad as she said he was a stupid dog and used to run round in circles all the time. Also, she never forgave him for leaping up onto the dining room table, and devouring the Christmas lunch one year. After Sammy died, Mum said she never wanted a spaniel ever again – she wanted a dog with brains, so the next dog she got was a whippet. She and Dad drove out to the country to look at a litter of puppies and came home with a male pup which Mum, and Dad named Honey. Honey was a noble dog and I loved him to bits. Mum then got another whippet to keep Honey company, but he was a naughty dog and got knocked down by a car. Luckily, he only broke a leg, but kept chewing at his bandage and got gangrene, so he had to be put down. Then, Mum bought another whippet but she couldn’t stand it. It had a beastly temperament, so Mum gave it away. Then, Mum and Dad hit the jackpot and bought a bitch that they christened Sophy. Both our whippets were brindle coloured and they loved each other. Every morning and afternoon, without fail – Mum used to take Honey and Sophy out for a walk round Regents Park. But, bystanders didn’t like it when they chased after and caught squirrels. ‘They’re rats with a tail,’ Mum used to say. Mum loved Sophy the best, but I adored Honey. He was an asristocratic dog and was very distinguished looking. Sophy was a mummy’s dog. She glued herself to Mum’s side all the time. Even when she was in the park, she always used to return to Mum’s side after chasing another dog or running in and out of the lake.

One morning, I woke up to hear a terrible crying. I went downstairs to find Sophy lying on top of Honey’s body, crying the house down. My favourite dog had died of a heart attack. He was only seven. Seven must have been our dogs’ unlucky number because Sophy was only seven when she later died of some illness that made her too weak to walk. In the end, she just lay on Mum’s bed, feeling too wretched to even wag her tail. After Mum took Sophy to the vet to have her put down for dog-humane reasons, she was too upset to get another dog again. But, she said that if she did, she would get a greyhound from a greyhound rescue centre, who would need lots of love and affection.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

School friends

When I was at boarding school, I had two best friends, Stacey and Beverley. Stacey had red hair and was rather stout, but Beverley was skinny and had long blond hair, which she swished around a lot. My boarding school was in the Midlands but as I lived in London, I didn’t see my parents very much during term time. They usually managed to take me out for one weekend during term, which used to be a real treat. They usually stayed in the local hotel and always treated me to a slap-up dinner. One weekend, they even brought our two whippets, Honey and Sophie, but unfortunately the dogs managed to get into a private field and chased a sheep. The farmer was furious and wanted to shoot our pets on the spot, which would have made me very sad, but Mum and Dad talked them out of it, I don’t know how. My parents said they would never live in the country, as you couldn't take your dogs for a walk without somebody threatening to kill them.

Unfortunately, Mum and Dad were unable to take me out often, as it was inconvenient for them. It was a long drive up from London, so I had to rely on my friends to take me out on exiats, which was no hardship. Beverley lived next door to the Morgan car family, and if only I had been interested in cars then, I would have been impressed to see the handsome young Morgan heir tinkering underneath his Morgan sports car. She also used to live in Stratford, and knew everyone when we went for walks through the town, and that included the Shakespearean actors, which I found terribly exciting even though Beverley didn’t seem to think so. She just swished her long hair and furiously chewed gum. Stacey’s parents were ‘nouveau riche' as Mum described them, but I had no idea what it meant as they had an indoor swimming pool and always took us out to expensive restaurants.

My other best friend at school was an American girl called Laurel. She lived with her parents and older brother in Knightsbridge. In the holidays, I once stayed at her family’s penthouse flat which was really glamorous, especially as her brother was dating a pop singer called Twinkle. Her mum even took us out to Harrods for lunch, and I had a Knickerbocker Glory, my favourite meal in those days. It was a bit embarrassing though, because when I invited Laurel back to stay at our house, I was desperate to give her a good time. But, David, the ‘clever dick’ round the corner refused to invite us to his fifteenth birthday party. He said we were too young , even though we were only one year younger than him. I suspect Laurel got rather fed up with walking round Regents Park and feeding the ducks with Mum’s stale Cordon Bleu chicken pie. After all, she used to walk round her local Hyde Park a lot. Also, Mum and Dad didn’t take us out to a restaurant, but made us eat Mum’s French muck at home. Laurel must have been bored stiff staying at my place, as she never invited me to stay in Knightsbridge again, and even stopped sitting next to me in Maths at school.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006