Thursday, 2 October 2014

Musing on 17. 1984, and the rocky road of adolescence.

Sitting on a bus today, musing on the ridiculous ''no travel on a Sunday'' curfew imposed by the resident bus company, I found myself wondering why I never learned to drive at seventeen.

To many people seventeen means driving lessons, a secondhand car and a new found sense of freedom.
My sister learned to drive, my brother learned to drive.

To me seventeen was, quite simply, The Year That Was.
Frankie goes to Hollywood, Top of the Pops 1984.

July, 1984.
I turned 17 on the 8th of July.
Frankie goes to Hollywood was ensconced at number 1 with Two Tribes, and my outfit of choice was a banana yellow jumpsuit.
With Boy George ribbons, too much makeup and very large earrings.

I was coming to the end of my first year at Art School and Cornwall was looming large.
That teenage milestone that is The First Holiday Without Parents.
In theory it was going to be a sedate cycling holiday.
The fact that I neither owned a bike nor rode one wasn't going to stop me.
In reality, the borrowed bike sat gathering dust and our Cornish cottage became Party Central.
Those eight days passed by in a flash.

And kickstarted a year of rebellion.

 July 1984 to July 1985 was a whirlpool of emotions.
Of angst and traumas and dodgy decisions.
Of unsuitable boyfriends, dubious friends and the ridiculous Cadillacs.
Of the unceremonious boot from the family home (albeit temporary) and subsequent dropping out of Art School.
Of various hotel jobs in Devon - in one particularly memorable pub I drew the line at ironing Y-fronts and was asked to leave!
And finally, coming full circle, returning to Sussex and finding an anchor at the airport.
The airport gave me stability.
And it sowed the seeds of kibbutz.

I will always be grateful to the man whose name I cannot remember, whose parting gift to me was that iconic backpackers bible of the 1980s, THE KIBBUTZ VOLUNTEER - how to become a kibbutz volunteer.

I wore that book out.
Which is probably why I never learned to drive.

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