Uncategorized

The 90s House Party

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.

Invites

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.

Music

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!

Drink

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.

Atmosphere

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.

Uncategorized

Just a Saturday Girl #TeenInThe90s

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. Untitled design (6)

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.


Untitled design (7)Untitled design (5)

*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). 

Uncategorized, Writing

He’s On The Phone #TeenInThe90s

Before mobiles, we had landlines. 

Phone numbers used to be ingrained into our psyche.   Even now, I might not be able to tell you my husband’s mobile number, but I can recite my house, my three best friends, my nan and grandads and my auntie Hannah’s 90’s phone numbers.   Some of those people aren’t with me any longer but their numbers remain scratched into my heart.

So when you met a boy in a club and gave him your number that meant you’d given him an cabled invite into your home.   It meant when the phone rang, you had to run to it and hope you’d get it before your mum or dad answered.  on those horrible occasions that your mum beat you to it, you had to cringe at her over the top posh phone voice.

It meant you had to wait in for the phone to ring and sometimes it didn’t!  It meant phone messages written on scraps of paper.

He called.  He really called.

Untitled design

Phoning someone meant huge risk of having to speak to their family members, so you only phoned people you really really liked.  So when the guy you liked picked up the phone – that was a big deal.

The worse is that in the early internet days when phone and online time shared the same temperamental pathway into your home – you could either speak on the phone or chat online, but you could never do both at once.  So if your mum was having a three hour conversation with your aunt, that meant you’re chat would get cut off.  It also meant if your dad wanted to get online, he’d be hammering at your door impatiently until you hung up from your beau.

Copy of Facebook Post – Untitled Design

*In 96 some really flashy kids had mobile phones – I wasn’t one of them!  Some other kids even had pagers.   Below is a ‘business card’ from an old boyfriend and his friend.  See the comment about the cost – this is because in the 90s we were all terrified of phone bills, especially calls to mobiles.  These dicks actually used to hand these cards out to girls in clubs.

Untitled design (1)


If you are enjoying these short excerpts from my 1996 diary, then why not consider beta-reading my YA novel, A Future Somewhere for me? 

 

Some more phonecall excerpts from 1996 below:

 

Writing

90s Indie clubs – The Island Ilford. Part 1

In 1996, I spent a lot of my time thinking and obsessing about Friday nights at an indie club tucked around the back of Ilford.  A barely converted cinema, with two levels of alternative music and cheap drink.  It was a magical place where anything could happen.

I grew up in this weird little corner of the world where London meets Essex. My early clubbing experiences involved bright coloured mini skirts and getting off with boys in pastel coloured shirts and curtains. But in May of 96, a much cooler friend took me with her to Supersonic, an indie/rock night that changed my life.

Untitled design

I was late to the party.   Before the bibity-bops of indie took over, the club belonged to ‘Alcatraz’ a heavier rock and grunge night.    I’m kind of glad I missed it.   Making the transition from dance to indie wasn’t easy, and Supersonic was just the right balance of kitsch, disco and heartache to make me feel at home.

The folk at The Island were special. When I was sixteen, kids at my school,  spent a lot of time trying to look like replicas of each other, but not there. Within those walls we knew no uniform, Doctor Martin’s , big (fake) fur coats, black lace, black T-shirts, 70s flares, Adidas tracksuits, lumberjack shirts, 60s miniskirts, you could be whoever you wanted to be.

Downstairs was indie poppy – your Blur/Oasis fare with an 11 o’clock party mega-mix normally including Abba, Madness and Dexy’s midnight runners (who didn’t loose their shit to ‘Come on Eileen’?) .

It was massive, there was a dance floor that went on for ever and a large bar that stretched the whole of the downstairs, serving cheap Jack Dee with Coke and Snakebite- purple fizz that made you feel like a child and an adult all at once.

Upstairs was for a different crowd. The smaller space thrust with metal and rock, hard kids with attitudes, their long hair flying and chains jangling, as they jumped in the air.

The stairs themselves were hideaways – you could get lost under them or fall in love or fall in sex or fall in whatever.

I fell in love countless times on a Friday night. The Island was a pick and mix of surfer dudes and grungers, brit-poppers and rockers.  My favourite was a boy with spiky black hair, a 70s shirt,   jeans with chains and eyeliner…he once played a Green Day song on his guitar down the phone to me.   I hope he never got old.

A night at The Island cost £10 tops.  We’d bus it there, walk it home, get drunk before we walked in.     They were the best times of my life.


As well as being the best 90s club, The Island was also a popular music venue and bands that performed there included:

Oasis

Babybird

Sleeper

Mansun

Genesis


News: On the 7th of September 2019, Supersonic will be hosting a REUNION, in ILFORD. If you want to dance the night away like your whole life is ahead of you, click here.

If you like Indie, 90s and YA you’ll love my book A Future SomewhereYou can read the first chapter here 

and its free on Kindle Unlimited or 0.99p


Uncategorized

90s Indie-girl influences – in movies

Whilst my tongue may be a little in cheek when writing the film briefs below, I never want to undermine the role of alternative women in 90s film. They inspired and included girls like me, who felt isolated by popular culture’s myth of beauty (think Baywatch).  However whilst reflecting on this blog, it irked me a little, that most girls on this list turned out to be dangerous, evil or psychotic.  These characters helped me explore my individuality, that I carried through to adulthood and explore in my own writing.    My generation are now creating more positive alternative role models for young women, and turning the world on its head.  Continue reading “90s Indie-girl influences – in movies”

Uncategorized

Girl Sour Girl Power

Copy of teen in the 90s (1).png“Claire, Claire! You’ve got to see this.” First year of 6th form, 1996. I’m at my friend Sunita’s house and she’s flipping out about some music video just starting on ‘The Box’.   My eyes leave my sociology homework and follow my mate’s. She looks like she’s about to burst into flames.  Bright colours, short skirts, massive heels,  “Claire they’re amazing, can you believe how good they are?”

And that was my introduction to the Spice Girls, the 90’s sensation that bewitched Sunita and the rest of the Just 17 readership, with their colourful boob tubes and platform heels, citing ‘Girl Power’ as their mantra;  heroines to generations of girls and woman who thought they’d never been heard before.

What the…?   These girls had obviously never been to The Island, Ilford on a Friday night.

Girls that went to rock clubs and indie nights, we knew where it was at.    The Spice Girls changed the face of pop-music, but they didn’t change my life.   Here’s to the girls that did….

Courtney Love

“And the sky was all amythest, and all the stars look just like little fish.” On the first listen this song tore out my insides and then stomped all over them, the next time I heard it, it sounded more like a lullaby.

“They get what they want and they never want it again.”   A lullaby for the girl who at 16 just wanted to be pretty and sweet, and everything she thought boys wanted.  Fed on a diet of Saved By The Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, I thought the secret to finding love was to look like an angel and act like a whore.   My heart broke a million times over and Courtney was with me screaming about it.

Skin

I used to dance around my bedroom crawling along the floor to this one.  Skin was the embodiment of strong and powerful, yet she sang a song called ‘Weak.’

What it means to me, is that you can be the strongest person in the world but you can be weak at the same time.  You can be strong, you can be weak, you can be strong you can be weak, different sides of the same coin.

“In this tainted soul, in this weak young heart am I too much for you?”

Bjork

Oh Bjork, you were cool at my school because no-one had a clue what you were going on about and we loved it.   I used to do my hair in those tiny twisty ponytails and people used to point at me.   I didn’t care Bjork.

Sidenote – Iceland is one of the coolest countries on the planet.  There are some cool Iceland facts here.

Gwen Stefani

When this song came on in the club,  it was proper lose your shit time.     I perfected a dance that centred around an aggressive side-nod with my hands held tightly behind my back, thrusting my chest forward.

Cerys Matthews

I’m a girl born and bred in that corner of the world where Essex meets East London, but I have the soul of a Welshman, and Cerys is its siren.

Sickly sweet, yet witty and bitter, its all in the juxtaposition.


To me, Girl Power was never about Union Jack dresses and platform shoes.  It was the strong and the weird and the hurt, it was the depraved and the mad and the angry and the weak.


If you like to read and YA’s your thing why not sign up to beta-read my debut novel, A Future Somewhere.