Crushed Diaries

A blog for Young Adults

Friday, January 26, 2007

Be Careful Who You Go Away On Holiday With

I shall always remember my first holiday abroad without my parents. With their blessing and money to pay for my first holiday without them in tow, I went to Italy with a couple of close girlfriends. One of them was Sally, my very best friend who lived round the corner. She had mini-skirts up to her eyeballs, had long black hair down to her bottom and had all the boys chasing her. She was a chainsmoker and was a barrel of laughts. Christie, on the other hand was so beautiful, that a legitimate film producer once stopped her in the street and asked her if she would like to be in his new movie. Unfortunately, she had very strict Catholic parents who forbid her to follow this opportunistic lead, and insisted she stay on at secretarial college. Christie was very quiet and never said a word, which suited me fine as I liked to do all the talking. Her beauty attracted the boys, but my chat made sure they stayed.

Unfortunately, shortly before we all went on holiday together, Sally fell in love, obsession more like it, with a cool boy who was simply not interested in her. She could have had any boy she wanted, except for this one. He did lead her on a bit though, and once asked her to go to a party with him where they danced cheek to cheek for the entire evening. He never called her again. After we bought our airplane tickets, Sally announced she didn’t want to go on holiday, as she was moping around for this unattainable boy. Like idiots, Christie and I persuaded her to come on holiday with us, saying a trip abroad without our nagging parents would do her the world of good.

What a killjoy Sally turned out to be, which just proves you don’t really know what anyone is like until you go on holiday with them. We all stayed in a little hotel by the Adriatic, but while Christie and I went out during the day and night, feasting on pasta and trying to learn the Italian lingo, Sally insisted on staying cooped up in her room, chain-smoking and constantly moaning how depressed she was.

Before this holiday, Sally had been my best friend and confidant. And, Christie had merely been a beautiful sphinx, but on holiday, Christie turned out to be a gas. We ganged up against Sally, both agreeing what a pain in the neck she was. But, we didn't let her ruin our holiday. Christie and I fell in with a gang of Italian boys, whose handbags were more chic than ours. We slobbed out on the beach with them every day and fried in the sun. 'Bella! Bella!' they cooed when we turned lobster red. Once, Sally deigned to join us on the beach, but she was so miserable, that she started to cry. She looked like a big panda after her five layers of non-waterproof mascara ran down her cheeks. 'Bruto!' our new Italian friends exclaimed with disgust.

Going to Italy without my parents for the first time was a lesson. I knew what my parents were like, so I knew what to expect. But after the Sally fiasco, I was very careful not to go on holiday with a best friend ever again, for fear of falling out with them.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Summer Holidays

I used to go away with my parents every summer until I was sixteen. That was when I didn’t want to go away with them any more. I wanted to go away with my friends. But, I used to go on wonderful European holidays with my family while I was a child. Paris, Venice, Switzerland, Italy and many times to Corfu before it was spoilt by package holiday tourism.

Before my parents decided to explore Europe, we went to Belgium every summer for years. My two sisters and I squeezed in the back of Mum and Dad’s tiny Austin 7 (the luggage was on the roof rack) and drove all the way to Belgium after getting off the ferry. Oh, how I hated that ferry. I used to spend the entire journey being sick over the ship’s rails. I used to pity those poor fishes in the sea.

We used to stay in a hotel in Le Coq. I don’t remember anything about the hotel but I do remember Belgium chips with mayonnaise, which were the most delicious thing I had ever devoured in my entire life. But, the beach was where it was at! All the kids on the beach used to make paper flowers and arrange them in pretty patterns on the sand. And, every day there was a competition to see who had the best arrangements. Some of the paper flowers were spectacular. That was because some of the kids had artistic parents who made them. Mum wasn't an artist, but worked very hard at making our paper flowers, but none of them ever came out quite right. They didn’t even look like flowers, but resembled clumps of messy lumps of coloured tissue.

My sisters and I couldn’t speak French, let alone Flemish, so we felt a bit out of it. Most of the other children on the beach were Belgium and couldn’t speak a word of English. However, when my cousins and their parents (my aunt and uncle) joined us on holiday, my sisters and I were suddenly part of the In crowd. For, my cousins lived in Brussels and could speak fluent French, so they acted as our translators. Even their parents, my aunt and uncle were bilingual which suited me fine. For my aunt used to manage to barter all of Mum’s home made paper flowers on the beach, not for shells, but for gigantic portions of chips and mayo.

It was the perfect holiday, especially when a gorgeous looking blond boy called Francois set up his flower patch next to ours. We immediately became best friends and I actually learned to speak French in order to communicate with him, my first crush. Also, his paper flowers on his patch were easily the best on the beach. He made them all, and created new ones every night. He had to, for his flowers always sold out during the day. I thought I would be friends with him for life, but when I returned to England, we didn’t write to each others as we promised. If we had met in the digital age, we undoubtedly would still be corresponding by Skpe, Chat or e-mail. However, whenever I see some paper flowers, they always remind me of him, and the purple paper water lily he used to wear in his long, blond hair.

Copyhright; Frances Lynn, 2006

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Clunky Red Shoes

When I was about twelve, Mum bought me a pair of hideous red shoes which I loathed with a passion. They were so clunky, I doubt that even Little Red Riding Hood would have worn them. Nowadays, they would probably be really fashionable, but in those days they were the kiss of death. I remember being in love with a dainty pair of black patent high-heeled shoes which were really grown-up, but Mum didn’t like them. She said they looked cheap and nasty. My grandmother had bought them for me when she took me shopping once. I don’t know if it was because Mum hadn’t forgiven grandma for buying me a cheap dolls pram, which had sliced my face open when my sisters pushed me into it, or what. But, she hated these shoes so much, she forbid me to wear them Out. That’s the reason why she bought me those hideous red shoes to wear. I never had reason to be devious before, but Mum made me act behind her back for the first time in my life. When she used to drive me to friends’ tea parties, I’d hide my black patent shoes in my big bag, and dutifully wear the red clodhoppers. Then, as soon as I’d get to my destination, I’d change my shoes in the loo, before anyone could see me in them. Then, just before Mum came to collect me, I’d secretly change back into my red clodhoppers and wait for her to pick me up outside the house. Twice, my crafty plan went wrong. Once, my friends caught me out wearing the red shoes before I had time to change them, and when I confessed Mum had bought them for me, they laughed themselves stupid. And the other time, Mum arrived early at a party to pick me up and caught me out wearing my black patent shoes, while I was playing a game of 'Hide The Parcel'. That was when she discovered I had lied to her for the first time. And, it wouldn’t be the last time either. For when I discovered boys, I had very good reason to lie to Mum, as she hated some of the boys I had a crush on, as much as I hated those ghastly red shoes.

Copyright: Frances Lynn 2006.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Gang

I used to be part of a large gang who consisted mainly of boys from the local school. But, I had my fave raves. First, there was Steve, a supercilious, cool blond who was too high and mighty to ask a girl out. He didn’t have too, as all the girls were crazy about him, and asked him out all the time. He always abruptly said no. Then, there was Roger, an intellectual communist who looked like a shrivelled monkey, and last but not least was Rob, a sardonic and sarcastic Madonna of the masculine sex. He was rude and cynical and all the girls were terrified of him. He was also a bit of a devil. Once, he told me to meet him at a party in the suburbs on a Saturday night, so I got my dad to drive me there, but when he dropped me off in the middle of manicured lawn nowhere, the parents at the supposed party venue informed me there was a mistake. There was no party there. Thank you Rob, I don't think, especially as I had to bus it home dressed up in my priceless, stolen Biba trouser suit.

Every Saturday night, the gang would all, without fail meet outside the local coffee bar, and swap addresses for parties to crash. If I was lucky, I would get to ride on the back of Steve’s souped up scooter, or if I wasn’t lucky, get squashed in the back of Roger’s mother’s filthy mini. Once, I even had a boy-friend who had a jeep, and sometimes twenty of us would clamber in, and roar up and down Kings Road. It’s amazing we were never arrested, especially as one poor young boy couldn’t hold his liquor and would consistently vomit noisily out of the window, splattering the human peacocks on the streets. Yes, those were the days, but I had to cool it with that crowd, when late one evening, my boyfriend somehow managed to crash into a pond near Hampstead Heath. That was the end, as we were stopped by the police. Actually, I would have continued to ride around in the jeep, sitting in the front seat like the Queen of Sheba for longer, but my boy-friend allowed a sly blonde girlfriend of mine to hog the front seat instead. I was so jealous, that I asked Steve, Roger and Rob to help me climb up the drainpipe to her bedroom window, in order to cut off her pony tail while she slept. But the boys told me they didn’t think it was a good idea. ‘We’re not mountaineers,’ they sneered.

Copyright; Frances Lynn, 2006

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My ex-boyfriend

I once had an eccentric boyfriend who tunelessly played sitar and was a Macrobiotic nut. He tried to educate me to his way of hippy drippy thinking, saying I was ‘yang’ and should eat ‘ying’ food. I didn’t know what he was going on about, but pretended to be wildly enthusiastic at his eccentric views on eating. He was very good looking, so I just looked at his double eyelashes, smiled and said nothing. I even pretended to worship the disgusting grub at the local Macrobiotic restaurant he used to drag me to, which was full of longhaired men and women who all looked like they were dying of consumption. And, they way they greedily tucked into their brown rice, they behaved like they hadn’t eaten in weeks. ‘You’re a true Macrobiotic, because you eat such small mouthfuls,’ my boyfriend used to say admiringly. Little did he realise that the reason I pecked daintily at the food, was because I thought it was truly revolting. Give me a juicy steak and French fries any day, but naturally I kept my mouth shut when I wasn’t elegantly thrusting dainty globs of mushy muck down my throat.

I wasn’t concerned about not having a good meal when I went out with him, because as soon as I returned home that evening, I devoured the contents of the fridge to make up for my lack-lustre meal. He was very hippy-drippy, for he loved to predict his fortune every day by throwing some rusty coins on top of his smelly copy of the I Ching, which he described as the book of changes. I didn’t understand why he did this on a daily basis as I could have told him he would never change. I didn't have to be a fortune teller to predict what his future would be: twanging his sitar in bed and picking fungi mushrooms out of his nylon bed sheets. If all that wasn’t dreary enough, he also quoted long incomprehensible passages from another hippy trippy book, “The Tibetan book Of The Dead’ in a reverential tone like he was in a cathedral. If he had recited chapters from a chick lit novel, I would have been interested, but I concealed my boredom by removing a chiffon scarf from his lampshade and wrapped it round my head, so he woldn't see me yawning. But, he was so gorgeous – he had long curly blond hair and saucer big blue eyes - I forgave him everything, and that’s why I went out with him for a week. I might have gone out with him a bit longer, but when he started to light joss sticks, kneel down and chant for hours like a demented, howling wolf, that was the end forever.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pep Pills

I fantasised about becoming a beatnik after I left school, even though beatniks ‘dug’ jazz and were so old fashioned, they were already stagnating in the dodo-dead Age of bebop. I visualised myself wearing a black and white striped Matelot top, a black beret and long black dirty hair, while reading extensionalist literature, lying down on my unmade bed. It really was all a fantasy, because I don’t have black hair. I could have dyed it coal-black I suppose, like Goths do nowdays. But, my hair was mousey, and I wanted to be a platinum blonde. At school, I poured a bottle of peroxide over my head, which made my hair go a luminous green. In the sunlight, it looked like I had a frizz of spinach on my head.

I used to be bonkers about pop music, and loved to read about pop stars in the cool teen magazines of the day. I had no intention of taking drugs like my idols did while I was at school, but I must have been very influenced by their illegal habits. For, I do remember buying Pro Plus pills to help me keep awake all night while I was cramming for my exams. And, when my mother was trying to lose weight and went to one of the fashionable slimming doctors in Harley Street, without her knowing, I helped myself to some of her prescribed slimming pills. As a result, I was speeding for days, which was very convenient, as to Mum's delight, I fanatically cleaned my bedroom for hours.

After I left school, it was the vogue for teenagers to go to slimming doctors too, especially if they had become engaged and wanted to look svelte on their big wedding day. I’ve always been slim, but I never felt skinny enough in the Sixties, so once without Mum knowing, I made an appointment with an expensive slimming doctor, whom all my friends recommended. What a quack. He injected me (with what I never knew) through my tights and gave me some slimming pills, which unfortunately weren’t as powerful as the ones I had stolen from Mum. By this time, her slimming doctor had been struck off, and this doctor I went to soon got struck off as well, shortly after my appointment in fact. And, I’m not surprised.

I was ordered to eat grapefruit and hard boiled eggs for a year, which I did for almost one day. But, I was so ravenous that after midnight, I sneaked down to the kitchen and wolfed down the remains of Mum’s Cordon Bleu chicken pie, which she had served at her dinner party the night before. And, I didn’t even like her fancy pie, what with all that yucky, gooey mushroom sauce she drenched the shredded chicken in. So much for that fancy slimming doctor. I felt very bad tempered and jittery after I went to see him, and couldn’t stop eating for a week. I only forced myself to stop when I went shopping and saw my podgy reflection in the changing room mirror. But, a good thing came out of it. I was never tempted to take another slimming pill for the rest of my life. There was no need, especially when I discovered Macrobiotics. I discovered that if I only ate brown rice for a week and smoked like a chimney, I might not have been able to walk up the hill, but I looked pleasingly skeletal.

Copright: Frances Lynn 2006

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Giving Up Sugar

I should have done a PhD on Chocolate. I knew more about chocolate bars than anyone I knew. I was a chocolate fiend and gourmet. I knew exactly how long it took to fry a Mars Bar to perfection, so that it became almost too gooey to eat. Once when I went swimming with a chocoholic friend, we had a competition. Whoever named the most chocolate bars, while we were ploughing up and down the pool in the fast line, would win a chocolate bar of our own choice. I won (a rich Cadbury Creme egg) easily. ‘Galaxy, Caramac, Turkish Delight, Cadbury's Fruit & Nut, Rolos, Lion bars, Curly Wurlys, Bounty, Milky Bars, mint Aeros, Walnut Whips,’ we intoned. But when I said ‘Crunch’ on our final lap, I knew I was the victor.

I’ve always had an uncontrollable sweet tooth, so the year after I miraculously managed to stop smoking, I decided to cut out sugar. I was so used to clutching a cigarette, that I found I didn’t know what to do with my hands when I was no longer waving my cancer stick around in the air for dramatic effect, or shoving the cigarette into my mouth for another salacious puff. I also discovered another disadvantage after quitting nicotine, cold turkey. I was actually tasting my food for the first time in years, savouring every mouthful. My escalating daily consumption of cheap chocolate tasted so yummy, I became obsessed with the delicious stuff. At hourly intervals, I would slope off to the local newsagent and stock up on all my favourite candy bars, then guiltily devour them before I returned home. ‘Oink Oink Squeal Squeal’ should have been my middle name.

Chocolate didn’t make me fat, but it gave me peculiar side effects. After compulsively stuffing my face on sweets, I found myself unable to think. I also developed loads of unappetising, bulging red spots on my face. Not a pretty sight. And, although I thrived on my immediate sugar rush after gobbling my contraband chocolate, a short time later I would usually feel so lethargic, I had to force myself to consume another Bounty bar or an equally sickly chocolate bar to rise my energy levels. Unfortunately, chocolate wasn’t the only sugary food I was addicted to. I was mad about cakes, and craved biscuits so badly, that if there was a packet of my favourite custard creams in the house, I was unable to rest until I had consumed the entire packet. Just before I had made up my mind to cut out sugary food from my diet for life, I binged on as many chocs I could sink my decaying fangs into. Then after that fatal New Year’s Eve when I obliterated sugar from my existence, I felt so poorly, I was forced to lie down in a darkened room for a week with a blinding headache. I wasn’t afflicted with a brain tumour. According to my doctor, my rocking head was due to all the toxics coming out of my body. Yuck!

I'm extremely proud that I no longer devour sweets, but I make an exception to Belgian chocolates at Christmas, which must be the sickliest chocs known to a demented sugarholic, like myself.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Resolution

This year is the first January I haven’t made any New Year resolutions because for the first time in my life, I can’t think of any. When I used to smoke, at every New Year’s Eve party I would luxuriously take my last desperate puff on a cigarette one second before midnight, shlurp from a proffered glass of champagne, then feel so light-headed from the bubbly, would mindlessly accept a cigarette. Having completely forgotten I had vowed to stop on the stroke of midnight, I would mindlessly puff away, scattering the ash on bystanders’ hair, before realising with horror I had already broken my new year’s resolution, knowing that I would be psychologically unable to stop the filthy habit until the following New Year’s Eve.

I finally did manage to kick the disgusting habit when I was grown-up. I started smoking when I was at school, because I was convinced that if I stuck a cigarette in my mouth, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. I’ve always been naturally thin, but when I was a schoolgirl, being thin wasn’t good enough. In those far off days, Fashion dictated that you had to resemble a fragile elf in order to squeeze your shoulders into a garment cut so small, that the arms were no larger than a thimble.

I smoked for years, but unlike some of my hooked contemporaries never inhaled the smoke into my lungs, but instead puffed furiously away, which made me permanently look like a demented shuttlecock. Funnily enough, I was never a fan of smoking, because I was always conscious that my hair and clothes used to stink like an old ashtray. But, luckily for me everyone else used to stench like an old ashtray too, because in the Old Days, everyone smoked. If you didn’t have a cigarette drooping out of your mouth at all hours, people thought you were a drip and a weirdo.

Naturally, I didn’t tell my parents I smoked. Dad was glued to his pipe and as a result, all the ceilings in the house were stained orange from the nicotine, but he didn't care. Mum stopped smoking when she watched a scary programme on TV, which proved that smoking gives you lung cancer. She would have been furious if she realised I was secretly puffing away in my bedroom while blowing the smoke out of the window. Unknown to her, I used to wake up first thing in the morning, retch my guts out, then light up a cigarette before breakfast. I was so addicted that even when I was afflicted with bronchitis and was unable to walk up the stairs, the doctor warned me if I didn’t stop smoking, I would die. But, his prophecy of doom didn't stop me puffing away. When I used to smoke during my teens, it was impossible to give up. Smoking used to be allowed everywhere: on the tube, upstairs on buses, in restaurants, pubs, and in every public place imaginable which included the cinema. I recollect with gruesome nostalgia that when I went to the movies, I could just make out the screen during a fog of blue tinged cigarette smoke. Those were the days - not! But, after I finally stopped smoking by sheer will power, I blew out as I compulsively substitued grub for nicotine. After I had stopped smoking for a year, my next New Year resolution was to stop gobbling chocolate, which was the hardest thing, I ever had to do.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006