I wrote to me aged 16
Dear Janey, you are probably sitting listening to a Donny Osmond LP on your big record player and dreaming of becoming a Mormon, flying off to Utah and marrying the toothy singer…it won’t happen, stop crying and dreaming of Salt lake City and swoony Osmond kisses, he marries his teenage sweetheart and she has all her teeth, you have nine missing.
Oh, by the way, buy a toothbrush, I know you have hardly any cash but seriously that stuff they say about decay is right, a toothbrush is important. By the time you are 40 years old you will have paid £2,000 in veneers and bridge work at a private dentist.
Yes, you will have private health care; I know it’s hard to believe right now.
So, get the record player turned off and start staring at school books. Try harder to understand maths and don’t give up on art or English, you will be good at both in future, just try to understand me when I say you will write a best selling book, sell paintings and you really need to understand percentages when you get older.
I know it’s the 70s but please don’t wear a plaid shirt tied at the waist with your curly fringe hanging over your eyes, and if you do have to look like that please don’t get a Polaroid photo taken in Mr Woods garden, I have seen the picture and it made my eyes water. It is even on the internet, something I can’t quite explain right now, but will be really big in the future.
me as at teenager at Mr Wood’s Garden
The 1980s are just around the corner and hair perms get really fashionable. Please DO NOT get a perm, you have really curly hair and it will result in you being housebound for three days, and a hair-do that makes Gladys Knight and the Pips jealous, no white girl should have hair bigger than Diana Ross.
me with a perm
If you are still not convinced of this advice, go to the local library and look up a boxing promoter called Don King and never ever forget that that’s what you will look like if you get a cheap perm in a Parkhead hair salon called ‘Hair Flair’ in 1981.
Also just to save you a lot of time, money and energy, you CANNOT skateboard, play the violin, do yoga, cook soufflé, wear strapless bras, pink eye shadow and you will never enjoy ballet performances.
Oh, by the way, that dream you had about a TV being made into a wrist watch? That actually gets invented. You were a visionary!
So Janey, don’t go into school tomorrow and declare that you are leaving, I know you have a shoe issue (you have none), but take up your mums offer to wear her slip on sandals and get through the week. Having no shoes is not good enough excuse to screw up your life.
Your dad will buy you shoes next week. Go there in your bare feet if needs be as you really need to go get an education, get into university and leave with a degree, if you do that, me getting into jobs later in life will be a hell of a lot easier, people are snobs and TV companies prefer folk with a Uni degree, even if they are shit at the job, it helps on paper.
I left school at 16 with no qualifications
Just on another note, your breasts will grow, I know they look like two moles poking their noses through pizza dough, but they really get big, seriously big and it is amazing how much they get big, have I emphasised that enough? Big boobs Janey will be a nickname.
Whilst at school don’t throw a medicine ball at a guy called Craig Armstrong on your hockey pitches, he is a wee bit older, geeky and likes music. He really becomes the most famous person from your school and is an amazing composer. You will love his stuff and download it (don’t ask what that means suffice to say you will never use vinyl records forever, but do keep them safe anyway). Just avoid hurting him, especially his fingers, they are his life and don’t call him a tweedy fuckwit, its makes him never want to speak to you again. He has a really long memory and wins Oscars in the future.
Tonight when you watch Sale of the Century on the telly, don’t let your mum slag off Nicholas Parsons, because when you get older he will become a nice friend and you will feel bad about your mum shouting at the TV and calling him an ‘English Toffy Nose Bastard’.
me and Paul Merton and Nicholas Parsons
I know you are wondering what the hell happens later in life, so far I have scared you with dental work, big tits and Nicholas Parsons, but bear with me.
Sometime soon, you will get a boyfriend called George; he is really quiet, drinks too much and has deep psychological issues. What you think is a quirky attitude is actually a dark violent streak; he likes to stab men with a knitting needle.
He might be a good kisser and doesn’t push you into sex, but he really does get into needles later on in life and they aren’t for knitting with. Who knew heroin would be such a big hit in inner city Glasgow?
You will break up with him when he asks you to marry him, one suggestion -don’t laugh out loud, remember the violent streak?
He doesn’t take rejection or laughter in his face very well.
Ignore him and walk away. But worry not -you do make a lucky escape.
I do really want to warn you about the next man, but if you don’t marry him, go through the scary shit you don’t get to produce a beautiful daughter and watch her and you become amazingly funny comedians. Yes, you have a kid who is funny!
I suppose you need to tread that crap to be the woman you need to be, but the husband is ok. It’s amazing how annoying he can be, but here’s a clue, don’t talk too much. I think you need to know that the talking thing bothers people, keep some of that inside but if and when you meet your husband’s family and feel like being cheeky, go right ahead.
You actually develop a really good repertoire for arguments and you usually win.
That uncle that abused you and makes you feel like cutting your own skin to make it feel clean? You finally tell the police, he gets arrested in the 90s and gets put in jail for sexually assaulting you….that does NOT REMAIN A SECRET and his legs get broke in prison. That’s called Karma. You will hear that word a lot in the 80s and 90s.
Don’t worry about jobs, you actually become self employed from a young age despite leaving school at 16 and have no education and that continues throughout your life.
Do stick to your theory about not drinking, not smoking and never touching pills or drugs. You were right about that, and in later years if someone offers you something called ‘smack’ you will be right to refuse to smoke it off a foil tube, it kills most of your friends. That sounds scary but trust me it is over in a blink and you eventually write a play about it. Yes, you will write a bit, did I mention that? Just try to remember everything as you need to recall it to write it….in fact take notes.
Just so you know, you will produce a tall wonderful child, and she will get everything you never had. She will be clean, educated and never need to worry about fresh underwear, your vow for the future of your child to be happy, well fed and educated will come true.
Don’t worry about labour pains; they aren’t that bad as everyone tells you and you recover quickly.
Something else I want to tell you, enjoy your body, you have wee skinny legs, so go show them off. Stop worrying about thinking you are fat, you’re not, be confident and when those boobs grow take time to watch men stare at them, savour that moment when they are up high and firm, it will feel like a distant memory when you are older…enjoy the pert tits.
Don’t wear baggy shirts to disguise them, get a good bra, a tight tee shirt and get them out there, they look amazing (I know I saw the photos) but you will suffer from self consciousness over them, try to enjoy them Janey, it’s a time to relish and it passes before you know it and you will spend your middle ages kicking yourself for hiding them when they had looked their best!
My last big thing I need to tell you, get to know your mum a bit more. She is a bit scatty, but just look at her; make sure you embed every single facet of her face into your memory. Don’t give her a hard time, hug her. Climb into bed and let her read to you, I know you are 16 years old, but she is a great reader and you grow up and take that skill with you.
Breathe in the smell of her, even the strange ones. Touch her face, smile and hold her. She had a crap life and you really want to share some time with her, if possible get that Polaroid camera out and get a photo of you both together. It would be nice, but probably won’t happen.
my mum at my wedding
She needs you, you don’t know that, but she isn’t good at saying stuff that scares her. Let her dance with you, get her to sing a musical with you, let her pick which song she wants and get up and dance around the room.
Hold her tight Janey and don’t ever forget how the skin on her face feels, or the thickness of her hair or the flecks of amber in her brown eyes.
You and your dad get plenty of time together, so enjoy that!
Most of all Janey, don’t give yourself a hard time for wanting more than she had, so go get shoes, get ready for a bra fitting and always brush your teeth, you have a long way to go and I will be here when you get there!
Oh and one last thing. You start a fight with a president of America and it everyone knows about it. I can’t explain this one easily…..go Janey. Never stay quiet.
the day I protested Trump at Turnberry june 2016