Monday, 20 December 2010

My Top Ten Teen Moments

Winter is here and I don’t like it. Those of you who did me the honour of reading last week’s blog post will know I spent the first 4 years of my life in Singapore. I still maintain this is why I have such low tolerance to the cold.
People often ask, do we have snow in Greece? Oh yes, is my answer. While not much will fall on Corfu {apart from the northern mountains}, just across the narrow stretch of Ionian sea, the mainland mountain ranges resemble a winter wonderland. Greece is more than sun-kissed islands. The terrain is mountainous, with some of the last remaining virgin forests in Europe. Anyone who watched the devastating fires of 2008 will attest to this and understand why the fires were such a tragedy for the country. Anyway, I digress……
Last week I shared with you my top ten childhood moments and, as promised, this week I will attempt to list my top ten teen moments. When I got to thinking about this, I realized I had bitten off more than I had bargained for. The reason – my teen years were not always that great. Age 13, my family hit some rough times. My father, in an attempt to better our lives, made some decisions that ultimately resulted in a vast change of life style for us all and a complete upheaval from all we knew and loved, a fact which contributed to my mother having a breakdown. Suddenly, I was forced to grow up and become the buffer between harsh reality and my younger sisters’ childlike confusion. Looking back on it now, as a parent myself, I do not blame my parents. I have learned from experience, as parents we are human and thus all make mistakes. We are not infallible. To cut a long story short, we left Glasgow to try and make a life in France. It didn’t work out. The UK was not yet a member of the EU and it was tough to find work. After 6 months, we left the continent, ending up in Huntingdon, Cambs and this is where I remained til I married my first husband {oh how Liz Taylor} at age 20. Anyway, life was not all bad and I did experience many high moments. Here is my list…

1} Glasgow age 13 – singing a duet with my best friend, Allison, at my brother’s wedding. We really thought we were the bees’ knees - a female Simon and Garfunkel. I remember it to this day. There we were, up in the balcony, decked out in our best long frocks, minister announcing us, congregation as serious as hell and what did we do? We broke down at verse two of Morning has Broken and collapsed into giggles. My sister-in-law hasn’t forgiven me to this day.

2} Writing my first piece of descriptive prose for an English assignment. My teacher read it out in class and it was then I realized I just may have a talent for this writing lark.

3} No man’s land Age 13 – driving to France with sisters and parents. The whole trip was a blast. Exciting for us. France is a beautiful country. The most memorable day was stopping over in Fontainebleau. We stayed in a very old hotel, across the road from the palace and slept in the same room as one of Napoleon’s artists. It was amazing. In the morning, we breakfasted in a beautiful walled garden. I can still taste the aromatic bowls of steaming cafĂ© au lait and the melt-in-your-mouth freshly baked croissant.

4} Spain – age 13. My first sight and smell of the Mediterranean Sea, golden sands and warm, balmy evenings strolling along Cambrils pier, sharing a plate of fresh sardines with my parents, French uncle and my beloved Grandmother. For me, it was a dream come true.

5}Spain – age 13. Taking my grandmother to the local Spanish fiesta. It was wonderful. We danced and drank sangria and she wore my big sombrero.

6 {a, b and c} Huntingdon, UK – fast forward to age 15. New life, new school, new friends – and falling in love with Donny Osmond. I have made this a 3-part answer because Donny was the root of three most memorable episodes
a} After a bout of tears and tantrums, when my mother refused to allow me to camp out on the streets of London overnight in order to secure a ticket to the Osmonds concert, I set off the next fine morning with my friends, resplendent in our Osmond badge encrusted coats and Donny caps for London. Of course, being 12 hours too late, there weren’t any tickets left. A riot quickly followed. Thousands of disgruntled teenage girls went crazy. Looking back on it now, I sort of feel sorry for the police. In our 70’s wedges, we all got a few lethal shin kicks in. Still ended up with no tickets but great fun nevertheless.
b} Heathrow airport. Joining thousands of other screaming, hysterical Osmond fans, I waited with my friends for the boys’ plane to arrive. When it did, I clambered up to stand on the 5in wooden railing of the viewing terrace wall. To this day, I can feel it bending under the weight of too many of us. I later found out that another section of the wall had collapsed and several fans were hurt. Of course, guess whose mother rung the airport and asked if Viviane was ok? Very emotional time but an experience. Kids are no fun these days.
c} Well what do you know? Fighting police again. This time in Glasgow. My friend and I followed the group up there, found out where they were staying and proceeded to follow their trail around the city. Finally found the right hotel and proceeded to scream our heads off. The boys obviously approved because they threw little notes to us from their window. When they finally left the hotel, I got within inches of the limo – only by shoving and kicking a policeman’s shins. I remember I knocked off his hat. He retaliated by shoving me back til I fell and landed on my arse in a puddle. Police brutality or what!

7} Glasgow – age 16. Visiting my elder sister and her husband in the city of my childhood. By then I had ditched Donny and discovered the joy of the electric guitar. Status Quo {the metal head starter pack} were paying at the Apollo. I desperately wanted to go but no one would go with me. So – I went on my own; the only female amongst 4,000 denim jacketed, tattooed longhaired guys all air-guitaring as if their lives depended on it. What could I do? I joined in, of course. One of the greatest experiences of my life.

8} Huntingdon – age 16. I became the proud owner of my first Afghan Hound, beginning a love story that has lasted until this day. Her name was Tara, a two-year-old dark blue brindle rescue bitch and she was the founder member of my subsequent household of this elegant and fascinating breed. Only one downside. My steady boyfriend was insanely jealous. Men are weird.

9} Huntingdon – age 16. Start of Sixth Form College. Two years of fun {and hard work} followed. It was here I learned so much from two of my teachers who, to this day, I thank for sharing their knowledge, for their patience and for their genuine interest in their pupils. Their lessons were a revelation. I have no idea if these two men are still alive today but where ever they may be, Mr. Daniels and Mr. Hurst, I salute you.

10} Huntingdon – age 17. A level year. Oh the stress, the angst but I did it. I passed with the grades I needed and set off for Sheffield University. Time for the next stage in my life – or so I thought but that is for another day…….

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this tiny peek into my teen life. I look forward to reading yours. Take care and a merry Christmas to you all.