Dear 16-year old Blonde,
A little advice for the next few years.
There is no way on God’s green one you’ll take any of this seriously, because you are that delightful mix of confident-bordering-on-arrogant that only precocious teenage girls can be. But because, as you get older, you become increasingly like The Father (there doesn’t seem to be any point fighting it. Sorry), I’m going to rabbit on at you now anyway whether you’re listening or not, and eventually you’ll realise I’m right…
Don’t fall asleep on beaches in Spain. DEFINITELY don’t fall asleep on beaches in Spain when you’re not slathered in factor 30. You can be as blasé as you like: there is nothing cool about sacrificing four days of your holiday to the gods of Sunstroke, Sunburn and Not Being Able to Lie on Your Back for a Week Because Dear God It Hurts.
You won’t get into the university you expect to. At the time, it’s a bit of a cat-amongst-the-pigeons moment. But honestly, don’t panic: it turns out to be one of the best things that could ever happen.
That magazine habit you’ve got falls by the wayside in a couple of years. The high heels and tea habits don’t, though – and you pick up one for gin on the way.
Let me save you some time: The West Wing, Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, shares in Google and Max Factor Masterpiece mascara.
Don’t panic too much about never being able to buy your own home. It happens – and sooner than you think. It also gives you an appreciation of just how bloody expensive curtains are.
There’ll come a time when you’ll be able to muddle your way through a conversation in Kiswahili. Yes, it still surprises me now.
A few of you will plan on InterRailing round Eastern Europe after A-levels. It is an excellent idea, and you’ll have a phenomenal time. Don’t bother with Bratislava. And, if you’re not going to take Mrs L’s European History module seriously, it’s also wise to be out of the country the day your A-level results come out (see ‘not getting into the university of your choice’ above).
Don’t buy brand-name painkillers. The cheaper-than-chips Superdrug own do precisely the same thing (and it’ll save you hours of painful discussion with The Father).
You don’t get married in the next ten years like you thought you might. In fact, that boy you’re with? It seems unlikely to you now, but he will break your heart. When it comes, it’ll feel like the world’s ending. It’s not. You’ll be just fine. Because – although you’ll have to wait for him – there will be someone else. And, much as you wouldn’t have thought it possible, it’ll be even better.
Grandpa’s funeral will come as a mixed blessing after he’s been so ill. It’s the first time you’ll see The Father cry. It’s an image that will stay with you. You’re a better daughter afterwards.
You will make a variety of mistakes with a variety of men. It’s probably inevitable. Even so, might I suggest thinking twice about that ‘one quiet drink’ in TigerLily in 2007?
Cheap bin bags are a false economy.
Unlikely as it sounds, eventually the list of things you enjoy will include oysters, Bob Dylan, The Archers and a hearty red wine. The latter a bit too much.
It might look like a smart shortcut, but don’t – just don’t – think you’ll save yourself time by nipping into the empty blokes’ loo on the sixth form trip to Greece. Wait and queue with the 30 other girls. However dull it may be, it’ll be a whole lot less embarrassing than having someone rush up to tell the hotel porter that someone’s been trapped in the loo; have him scurry downstairs (into the girls’ loo); be redirected; swear loudly in Greek; trundle upstairs to find a toolbox and then remove the loo door with a screwdriver to let you rejoin your classmates who have now been sitting on a hot bus for 30 minutes wondering where the hell you’ve got to.