Teenage Angst

Yes, yes, I know I’m a long way from my teenage years but things have conspired, over the last few days, to make me think about them.

Firstly, I had two friends to stay for the weekend. We’ve known each other since meeting at eighteen in our student halls of residence. We’ve still got the list we wrote of what we thought we’d all be doing when we were …err..well, old! And none of it has come true (so ‘soothsaying’ was clearly never an undiscovered talent!)

And by coincidence, I’ve had an email from The Guardian to say that my ‘Playlist’ piece is being published on 1st October. I wrote about a song that was in the charts when I first went to University and met my two friends. It still sends a shiver up my spine and whisks me back to the early ‘80s whenever I hear it. But you’ll have to wait until the weekend to find out what it is…!

On Saturday, as part of our busy schedule of activities, we went to see ‘The Inbetweeners’ movie. Not just because we wanted to ‘get down with the kids’ but to be honest, we just fancied a laugh. We did wonder whether the man collecting tickets would try to re-direct us to ‘Jane Eyre’, but no, we got in and we weren’t quite the oldest in there!

If you’ve never seen The Inbetweeners, well… it’s kind of outrageous, unbelievable, disgusting and essentially quite sweet, all at the same time. (But probably not your Mum’s cup of tea).

There’s one scene in the film where they’re all in Greece on a ‘party boat’ and although it was full of tanned, beautiful people, I just thought – ‘Thank God I’m not that age again’! All that angst about how you look, if you’ll ever meet anyone and who fancies you or doesn’t, if you’re wearing the right clothes or drinking the right drinks; trying desperately not to be ‘square’, trying to make the right friends and…. aaagh. Looking back, it was really horrible.

And then this morning, browsing ‘Facebook’ as I you do, I saw that the writer Geraldine Ryan had been driving her son to university at the weekend and she’d heard ‘At Seventeen’ by Janis Ian, on the radio.

So I clicked on the YouTube link here and it made me cry.

Maybe you were a teenage beauty queen and therefore don’t know what I’m talking about but I reckon, for most people, those growing-up, ‘inbetweener’ years were difficult. And because it’s got such universal appeal, if you can capture teenage angst in your writing (which David Mitchell does brilliantly, by the way, in Black Swan Green), then I reckon you’re onto a winner.

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11 Responses to Teenage Angst

  1. Suzanne says:

    Well done. Will look out for your Playlist on Saturday. And I’ve just read your letter in November’s Prima (page 90) – don’t know if you’ve seen it. (At least I think it’s you – there might be more than one writer with your name.)

  2. Blimey Helen, you’re storming along with those letters, I’ve seen the P.F. one, will get the Guardian on Saturday, and I like Prima magazine, so I’ll have a look at that. Well done to you, and good luck at the Warwick words.

  3. Oh, the Janis Ian song breaks my heart.

  4. Stephanie Holliday says:

    I hadn’t seen The Inbetweeers until the other night when I saw it for the first me. Very funny and rude but also poignant. Must see the film when I’m out of plaster.
    I’m reading Engleby by Sebastian Faulkes. Got half way and most of it so far is about teenage angst at university.
    It does seem to go on a bit – It’s one of those books where I’m waiting for the ‘real’ story to start but even so I am enjoying the writing.

    • Stephanie – I must admit, I tried reading Engleby a few months back and gave up, but that was probably just the restless mood I was in! Sometimes, unless a book really grabs me from the start, I can’t get into it. Lots of people I know have loved it, so I’m sure it’s worth the read. I will probaby try again some time! I’m just getting to the end of Kate Atkinson’s ‘When Will There Be Good News’, which I’m thoroughly enjoying! Happy reading!

  5. Stephanie Holliday says:

    A friend of mine who is a great reader couldn’t get in to it either. I think life’s too short, and there are too any good books out there, to make yourself read something that doesn’t mean anything to you.

  6. What I remember from being a teenager was that everything was REALLY important and URGENT and required ACTION. Now I feel exhauseted just thinking about how worked up I got all the time.

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