It started with a brief comment about two ties I wore in the eighties: everything was either sharp stark and hard edged or floral lacy and wide skirted . I wore a lot of black and white in those days -a polka dotted deep frilled Edwardian style dress to the 6th form ball, black and white tartan straight skirted woollen affair for my hen night , silk black blouse with pleated lace skirt and lacy tights for the respectable hen night , a handmade red polka dot suit with red heels for Xmas.
Looking back at my much younger self it’s clear to me now how much I loved clothes. Richard Shops was my affordable slice of heaven. Slinky fabrics, scarves Benetton colours – deep pink and emerald my favourites . Now I’m a jeans and white shirt person .
The photo of the sixth form ball is evocative. I had left school a few days before ; was about to move home and had just started a job. The head of sixth form gave me the option to change my mind. But it’s so many moves I knew that I wouldn’t .
However when the photograph was taken I knew even then that I had made a mistake. Three days in on tea making duties , carrying leaky multipacks of cartons of milk -24- in the hot summer which marked my first year, I knew that from then on I would drink my coffee black.
I wish I could whizz back in time and reassure myself that I WOULD study literature , that being a writer was possible . I wish that I could reassure myself that although life would be filled with loss fright and grief that I could never have imagined , there would be the sweetest moments, that I would have the most loyal, the most kind and supportive friends .
Ii’s go back and tell myself now that books matter . That I should be reading Morrison, Jean Rhys, Pat Barker, Maya Angelou, Atwood. That the Virago stand in the bookshop in Castle Square was prescribed reading . When I got the job as PA to a writer on the South Wales Evening post I should have followed my dream. Yes I’d have been filing , picking up her kids, dishing them a late supper , but I’d have seen a printing press clattering into action. I should have held out for that but … turned it down.
My childhood dream was to have my own designated library and reading space . I have that now -albeit slightly abridged . I forgot that dream for a while until I was 29.
I look so young in the photographs. I know that I wasn’t as confident as I looked . I’m surprised that I kept so many photographs from 82-87. And all o response to Annwen who said “You? Heels and dresses? Send me a photo to prove it!