It is 1991 and you are not allowed to make phonecalls from the landline before 6pm.
My best friend and I smell like The Body Shop (Her White Musk, me Ananya). We have the same shoes from Dolcis and in her bag there is always a Mason and Pearson hairbrush. We are still a year or so away from experimenting with brown eyeshadow, hair flicks and shimmery beige lipstick by Cover Girl.
I have started listening to The Cure and get up early to record them being interviewed on TV-AM. I already have about 6 full VHS tapes of Top of The Pops and The Chart Show. Soon I will start liking Take That because… well, hormones can do that to your musical taste. There are so many copies of Smash Hits in my bedroom I begin swatting summer flies with them. A bluebottle stuck to Neil Tennant’s left eye will remain there for the next 10 years.
I have 53 penpals. I wear a pair of fake Doc Martens and a black t-shirt with tiny mirrors and embroidery on. Mum lets me start dying my hair cherry-red but I am still waiting to get my ears pierced. Soon, I will be wearing skull scarves and later, Fruit of the Loom sweaters. And jeans with big turn-ups.
I miss playing with my Barbies.
I have never kissed anyone but love-bites start appearing under the school uniformed collars of my peers. The word ‘fingering’ frightens me. In my private world I have started fantasising about a boy from the village. He is from a religious family and rings church bells at weekends. In two years I will kiss a boy called Pascal on the French Exchange, our braces clanking together. Pascal will write me a letter 15 years later and I will add it to my other love letters. The letters I don’t think I will ever receive because I am too skinny, too shy. I am reading Judy Blume’s ‘Are you there God, it’s me Margaret?’ but my breasts are still invisible. Even talk of a training bra seems futile. The woman in me feels a very long way away, but I am already so eager to meet her.
It is exactly 30 years later. I have a 2 year old son and am in the process of separating from his father. I am trying to get my writing published and trying to remortgage the house. Life is exciting and challenging.
I never did get big breasts but I’m happy with them, even after breastfeeding.
Men have been a disappointment but I’m not disappointed. I just wish someone had told me earlier. My love letters are fading yellow in a box somewhere and for the first time in my life I don’t care if I never receive another. I realise my son is the love of my life.
I am in touch with my best friend from school but we are now so different. I still know her old landline number off by heart.
I start a reading group called The Judy Blume Book Club.