My misguided teenage years

american beauty

Teenagers tend to have a warped view of the world and so they think and behave in a questionable manner. Of course some are intelligent, sophisticated and able to decipher between right and wrong, logical and illogical, conducive to a better future and highly detrimental. But, let’s be honest, they’re the boring ones.

I was a typically deluded, ignorant teen – thinking I was the height of cool but actually spouting a constant stream of fraff. I made bad decisions and focused most of my attention on completely the wrong things.

Now heading towards my first real age milestone: the BIG 3-0 – I’ve been pondering what progress I’ve made since my teenage years. (I’ve got to do 29 first but Rich is on the brink of 30, thus my current contemplation).

So teenagers, let me enlighten you. Adults, let me humour you. Those aforementioned well-behaved young people who didn’t roll with me and my badly-behaved friends: let me shock and disgust you (and remind you why you were definitely better off not being part of my gang).

1. I genuinely thought smoking was cool.


I now know it makes you stink, wheeze like an oldie, waste $$$ and piss off the 80% of the UK population who don’t smoke.

2. We fancied boys who bopped their jeans:

bopping jeans

Even when it looked like this:

bopping even more

And when our mums discussed how silly and impractical this look was we thought: god, you’re so old and past it. What do you know.

What they knew was that wearing your jeans this low is silly and impractical. At the time, boys used to bowl rather than walk so the restrictions caused by jeans hanging so low didn’t matter too much. But I now know that bowling isn’t very cool, either.

3. And our dress sense wasn’t much better. We copied the All Saints when they wore their baggy b-girl trousers low, flaunting their g-strings:


The baggy trousers had holes in the bottom from rubbing on the pavement and pulling up your thong so that it would show above your low-waisted jeans was, frankly, painful and pathetic. But then Sisqo released the Thong Song, telling us it was good to show our ‘thong-tha-thong-thong thongs’. And so it continued into the new millennium.

4. One more on fashion. Rubber-soled palladiums:


Now I need to be careful because of the current revival of 90s fashions but the bouncy squashy rubber soles of these high-heeled numbers just weren’t good for walking in. The heels would bend and snap. And they still will. So fashionistas beware – palladiums are best left back in their rightful era.

5. We misguidedly thought that boys would fancy us if we doused ourselves in sickly sweet Impulse:


They didn’t then, they won’t now. Remember this: less is more.

6. And Lynx Africa was no better:


I’ll admit that a sniff of Lynx does have an effect on me, even now – but it’s a nostalgic memory of sneaky trips into the boys’ changing rooms, trying to catch a glimpse of them in the showers before they sprayed an entire bottle of Africa under their yet-to-develop-underarm-hair armpits. It’s not a scent for grown-up men.

7. Drinking straight vodka in parks and then puking everywhere.


I can’t remember if we couldn’t afford mixers, or thought it best that we downed the vodka straight to get more drunk – but either way: big mistake. Having to climb over high gates when we got locked into parks and then somehow get home and pretend we hadn’t been drinking even though we’d left a trail of sick and stank of booze (the ‘vodka doesn’t smell on your breath’ myth is definitely a myth) got us into lots of trouble.

It’s no fun projectile vomiting alcohol. But hangovers didn’t really exist in those days so we repeated our mistakes weekly. Later life liver damage will be largely down to those teenage years.

8. Getting sex tips (long before we were having sex) from teen magazines like J17:

just 17

In the 90s, foreplay was called ‘heavy petting’ in teen mags. But in real life it was ‘tingsing’ – or any number of other terms that J17 journos just weren’t clued up enough to know. It’s now probably called something else entirely and will be embarrassing many a teen as they’re asked if they’ve ever done [insert zeitgeist foreplay term] with so and so.

9. Bunking school


Sneaking out of school and skipping lessons doesn’t make you cool. It makes you uncool because eventually you’ll be less intelligent than your contemporaries and feel like an arse. Learning is cool. Being offered a free education is cool. Impressing people with your knowledge is cool. Being a dumb arse and smoking behind the bike shed isn’t.

10. Eating pizza, chips and other greasy food for lunch


The above picture actually made my mouth water for the greasy, cheesy pizza I used to eat every day at secondary school. But it’s not good to eat that stuff. Opt for the salad, healthy hot meals and vegetarian options that Jamie Oliver is trying so hard encourage school canteens to provide. Then when you’re not bunking your last lesson, you’ll pick up – and retain – even more knowledge. Healthy body, happy mind.

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