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I took my 17 year old neighbour to a friend’s house party recently, he was all hyped about the night of debauchery that lay ahead of him and it got me thinking about my old debaucherous days back in the late 90s.
I had a LOT of parties in Herent Drive. My parents loved to go on holiday and I’m sure they’d have hated the thought of me on my own, so by inviting half of Gantshill back to my house after the pub, I was actually doing them a favour. You see we didn’t have mobile phones back then, a few of my richer, knobbier friends had pagers, but if you wanted to ensure your got a good turn-out to your shindig, you had to get out there and promote it and what better place to do that then the local Wetherspoon?
We’d start our Friday night drinking snakebite. There were even a few nights where we’d just purchase blackcurrant and soda for around 30p and add our own vodka. The crowd was full of Friday night faces all looking for somewhere to go after the last order bell rang.
A sign of a great party is a huge pile of scratched up unboxed cds and empty cases strewn across a living room floor. There were no playlists back then, just long expensive albums. Our stereo had a 6 CD deck, which could ‘AUTO RANDOM’. Wow, this was an amazing technological advancement when you could figure out how to use it. Some kids, who liked to impose their music tastes on others, actually carried around CDS with them, and these were the ones you’d find sat by the stereo, frightening everyone else away.
Then came phone-in music channels such as ‘The Box’, oh my, they changed our Friday and Saturday nights. You could call a premium rate phone number, dial a three digit code and request any song you wanted. Trouble was, every drunk teenager with a television was doing exactly the same thing, so you could sometimes wait hours for your song. Once I requested McAlmont and Butler’s YES and it didn’t come on until 9am the next morning, but God, was I happy to see those guys!
The local off-licence used to sell us alcohol when we were wearing school uniform, so you’d think getting your hands on booze back then would be easy. WRONG, it was almost impossible. You see, parties wouldn’t start until after the pubs closed at 11, and what also happened at 11pm in the UK? Shops weren’t legally allowed to sell alcohol to ANYONE, they actually used to lock it away! So you needed to either forward plan and sort a stash beforehand, or you had to get a cab to one of the few shops that you knew would sell you cans of Fosters from under the counter at double the price. There were also a few kebab shops that would deliver beer after hours, but you had to make sure when you phoned you ended up speaking to the right person, you don’t want to piss-off your local take-away.
To my life-long disappointment houseparties in Ilford were never like the parties I’d seen in American movies, growing up. We didn’t have massive houses, pools or cheerleaders, we were just groups of dirty looking kids drinking and smoking weed. There was rarely dancing, most people just sat around, there was always that one guy that showed up with his guitar. We’d piss the neighbours off, break things unintentially and laugh about all week at school.
Man those were the days.
I’ve been quiet on the blog, because I’ve been editing and editing away on A Future Somewhere.
And now it’s here, no more excuses – you can find it on Amazon for FREE today 20th July.
Give it a go – it won’t do you any harm, and then give me a review -but only if you enjoyed it 😉
Wow – Self promotion doesn’t come easy!
I spent a night with some old university friends in my old university town. The night that bubbled with the memories of Jarvis Cocker and Damon Alban lookalikes, has made me pine for a past that’s long gone flat.
My late teen years were a time of £1.20 Taboos and Lemonades, broken hearts and kind unappreciated eyes , that shine kinder now for someone else. I never spoke Welsh, maybe if I did I would have married a Welshman. Things would be different now. They get you those Welsh boys, with their singsong accents and hearts full of green grass and seaside. They get you hard.
My university town was Cardiff. I remember walking through the town for the first time, it seemed so small and managable compared to London. Intimate and easy, windy streets with dingy bars, and kissing on steps.
Now I’m so much older, there’s magic in those memories. Haircuts influenced by Anthea Turner and Kylie Minogue fringes. Not being able to afford tickets to an Oasis gig, but rocking up anyway, hanging around the outside, desperate for a look at a Gallagher. Singing your sout out to Neil Hannon and his Divine Comedy. Eyeliner and glitter smeared on your face after a night of enjoying someone you shouldn’t be enjoying.
My Dad posting me a Fleetwood Mac CD, and the Goddess power radiating though my tiny stereo and into my bones and blood. ‘You can do anything.’ Stevie whispers as she dances through my veins, ‘Anything.’
When you find 17 year old you’s to-do list….and you haven’t done any of them.
FULL DISCLOSURE! #MiniBlog #1998 #Throwback4Valentines. #EasilyPleased #UNI #CollegeDays
We all had Saturday jobs in the 90s. My first foray into work was Saturday girl in an old lady shop that sold tea-towels and big bras. I think I earned £15 a day which was given to me in a brown envelope at the end of every shift. It was the most money in the world. That with a mix of baby-sitting and waitressing, were my first footsteps into the world of work.
Then when I was 16, in between my obsessions and homework, I managed to hold down a regular evening and weekend job at a popular men’s fashion store in Ilford.
My job came an extension of my social life. I got paid somewhere around £4.50 an hour to talk to ‘fit’ customers, visiting school friends and colleagues, and on occasion, I even folded Tshirts.
Ilford was hardly a style mecca and the men’s shop I worked in was basically the best of a very limited offer. Popular for the choice of Ben Sherman shirts, 501s and Kickers shoes, it tried desperately to be hip and trendy. Management sent us tape cassettes full of eclectic mixes of LL Cool J, St Etienne and the Cardigans – horrible mixes that everyone in the store hated, staff and customers alike.
There was a lot a lot or romance going on in the stock room. I remember taking the rubbish out with a colleague and having an illicit snog in the lift on our way to the big rubbish bins. It was the first time ever I got paid to do something I shouldn’t and it felt great.
Even better was that a lot of mates worked in the neighbouring stores. We’d go and stand over the other’s till and gossip right through lunch-break and then later get dressed for a night out in the mall toilets.
I made so many friends through my Saturday job, that when I look back now, some of those Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, even the Boxing Days and Christmas Eves, these days are as important to me as those spent at school or on nights out. Somewhere subconsciously I was picking up life-skills as well as having a great time with great people. And true story – my husband always asks me to fold his jeans and T-Shirts for him as he likes my ‘professional’ style. All that training finally paid off.
*The 96 diary entry above makes me sound like the ‘bitter bitch’ – not the girl I was referring to. The poor girl had done nothing wrong but be my ex-boyfriend’s next girlfriend. She was actually lovely but I had to maintain an irrational hatred for her. Sorry!
If you’re wondering how much the 90’s high-street has changed from the high-street we love today, the answer’s not much. Sure we lost Our Price and Woolworths, but the River Island, Debenhams, Burger King – the big hitters – they still all reign supreme.
If you like YA and are interested in reading more of my insignificant ramblings, then why not sign up to Beta read my first novel – whooohooo. Who knows, you might just like it (if you hate it then keep it to yourself).