Brainstorming my entry to the competition on the train
It’s the first day of Christmas! Well, it’s the first of December, so following my lovely friend R’s request, I’m publishing ‘The Letter I Wish I’d Written’, which was my entry to the ELLE writing competition and is Christmas-themed. It’s official, now that the mag’s out, that I didn’t win or run up, but I enjoyed writing it and coming up with lots of different ideas for letters I could compose. It was a bit tough because – as those who read some of my earlier blogs will know – I’m a serial letter writer (with a specialism in letters of complaint): I don’t tend to wish I’d written letters, I tend to just write them. But I’m proud of what I came up with following extensive consultation with T, C, S and my mum, and here it is as an advent post.
I wrote to Santa Claus embarrassingly late into my teens and, worse still, would usually ask for ‘world peace’ in the same paragraph as ‘a top from Morgan’. I wish that I’d written this letter half a lifetime ago asking for gifts I would go on to discover much later – they would have been useful then.
24th December 1999.
Tidings! I hope you’re as jolly as ever. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not writing to request the usual: world peace, bigger boobs and a boyfriend. I have drafted a separate letter to Kofi Annan on the subject of w.p., as after attending a ‘Model UN’ conference (I wore a trouser suit!) I know that’s his bag, not yours. And my boobs seem to have BALLOONED this year, which Mum says happens if you eat a lot of chicken. I haven’t, but a bowl of pasta every day between school and dinner may explain going up two cup sizes from a paltry ‘A’. Or maybe it WAS you, in which case I much appre-C-iate it! Boom boom. Rather, boom BOOB! (I’ve had some Bailey’s.)
Thanks for indulging my goth phase last year. I wore the glittery dog collar you gave me a lot, and listened to Without You I’m Nothing for six months solid. We can officially call it a ‘phase’ now: it’s over. Although I’m past Placebo, I’m glad I experienced a subculture. I learnt you can’t judge a book by its cover: goths are REALLY friendly beneath the black PVC and studs, which I loved wearing. It was fun to shock people by looking ‘alternative’. Speaking of sartorial scandal, a brilliant thing happened on the last day of term, which was mufti day. A prefect in Year 12 (so in assembly she sits at the front of the hall facing the entire school) came in wearing a t-shirt that said, in massive letters, ‘NOBODY KNOWS I’M A LESBIAN.’
Onto my Christmas list:
#1. I considered I might be a lesbian, but don’t think I am really. Even so, I don’t want a boyfriend (but thanks for the ‘grow your own boyfriend’ kit last Christmas!). I am now a FEMINIST and would like a book about that, because I don’t totally get it. At Claire’s house we surfed the internet and found out about The Female Eunuch and The Second Sex, which I got from the library. They’re gathering dust and incurring fines. Could you source something more readable (maybe even funny?!) about Feminism, please?
#2. RUBY WOO. ‘Who’s that?’ I hear you ask ‘and will she fit in your chimney?’ (Ho ho ho.) Ruby Woo is a lipstick shade from a place called MAC. It’s bright red, but matte, and makes you look like a 50’s screen siren. It’ll match the stupid red swimming cap I’m forced to wear – rather than white, like everyone else – because I’m a ‘less able swimmer’. We’re not meant to wear make-up ever, let alone in the pool, but I’ve decided I DON’T CARE.
#3. This might be hard: I need you to track down a letter. We’re choosing our A Levels, so had to have a careers discussion with Mrs Shale. She liked the UN idea (I didn’t mention trouser suits), but said there are other jobs I might not know exist, like dot com boom ones or fundraising for charity, or art therapy, that might suit me. Apparently you can even make a living window dressing at Selfridges and ‘trend forecasting’! Anyway, Mrs S read a letter from Hunteress Thompson (nice Feminist name!) which made her realise teaching was what she should do and it changed her life! I want to read that letter. Maybe there are loads of jobs where I can wear trouser suits in Paris.
Excited that we’re getting a computer with internet in the January sale – next year’s letter will be typed, or maybe even E-mailed!
Fifteen years later, I’m a happy ‘Bad Feminist’; Ruby Woo is a reliable friend; and Hunter S Thompson’s compelling letter to Hume Logan convinced me to change career, having come to feel like I’d been swimming against the tide in a red cap.
Right readers. You know I haven’t necessarily changed career but I fully intended that I would if I won the competition! I was going to see it as a SIGN, you see. But even though I haven’t won, I am convinced, and much clearer about what that career should be since writing the letter in September. No signs needed. More on that in coming posts!
And the lesbian t-shirt really did happen, and was brilliant.