Oh Dear Diaries…

I have spoken before about the trauma I suffered aged six, when my brother Chris decapitated my beloved Tiny Tears doll. It is fair to say that none of us were ever the same again:

– Chris realised he should never mess with his little sister – due to her nifty right hook.

– I learnt to hide stuff from my brothers that I didn’t want damaged / maimed / beheaded.

– Tiny Tears developed a new-found appreciation for polo neck tops.

I became exceptionally good at concealing my possessions after Tiny Tearsgate, 1989. Anything of value or sentiment was stowed away in a safe place, until I left home at the age of eighteen. This included, though was not exclusive to:

– A second-hand paperback copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, purchased for fifteen pence.

– My extensive Pog collection.

– One hundred high quality fibre-tipped colouring pens.

– Three mixed tapes of Boyzone, Peter Andre, the Spice Girls, and Backstreet Boys.

– My top secret, highly confidential, tell-all diaries, that I began writing in 1995, at the             tempestuous age of twelve.

With impressive foresight at just fourteen, I acknowledged that I’d probably look back on my diaries in years to come and laugh. I may have underestimated just how much.

Here are some highlights from the last seventeen years in the life of me.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent:

11/05/1997 SECONDARY SCHOOL: Everything in this diary seemed to have a point to it when I wrote it. That’s why I refuse to look back and cross stuff out. Even the really embarrassing stuff about fancying Dave from my Maths class and cutting my own fringe. Again.

27/12/1997 SECONDARY SCHOOL: New Year’s Resolutions for 1998

  1. I will slap the next person who says I fancy Dave, because I don’t.
  2. I will tidy my room at some point this year.
  3. I will keep my room tidy for at least a week.
  4. I will stop worrying so much about how I look.
  5. I will marry Ronan Keating.

30/12/1998 SECONDARY SCHOOL: New Year’s Resolutions for 1999

  1. I will cut down on chips and chocolate, eat my greens and drink more milk.
  2. I will either slap or kiss Smith for being such a git.
  3. I will snog any (well, just about any) boy who offers.
  4. I will not take my mobile to school for the sole purpose of showing off. Well, maybe.

11/05/2000 COLLEGE: Oh fudge. I tried to pluck my eyebrows to make them look better, but now it’s a case of “Eyebrows? What eyebrows?” Will have to draw them on with pencil until further notice. Note to self: step away from the tweezers.

11/03/2001 COLLEGE: 

21/06/2001 COLLEGE: Have opted to come down with food poisoning on Friday. Not actual food poisoning, but this is my brilliant plan to get out of work. I am brilliant.

30/11/2001 UNIVERSITY: Nothing to report apart from my slow spiralling descent into madness.

“I didn’t lose my mind; it was mine to give away.” Robbie Williams.

11/02/2002 UNIVERSITY: This afternoon was highly productive. I finally mastered the art of reading half a book and blagging the fact I read the whole thing. It’s a talent. One I am proud of and grateful for.

19/04/2002 UNIVERSITY: My plans to go into Uni today were scuppered by an overwhelming desire to sit at home on my bed and highlight stuff. Very important stuff; naturally.

22/04/2003 UNIVERSITY: 

13/08/2003 UNIVERSITY: Mental note: Everything happens for a reason and anything pants that seems to crush you at the time, just makes you stronger in the end. H’mm, that’s very phylosophical of me for a Thursday afternoon. Must learn to spell phylosophycal philospohycal philosophical.

19/10/2003 UNIVERSITY: Am so proud of me! Have spent the entire day doing boring Postmodernism coursework. All something to do with hyperreality. Very confusing. Despite having written 2,503 words, I still don’t understand it. This does not bode well for the ‘A’ grade I was hoping for.

29/11/2004 UNIVERSITY: Momentous occasion: Handed in my dissertation. *Takes a bow*.

03/10/2005 POST-UNIVERSITY: An ode to Tony: “When I fall in love, it will be forever”. Thank you Nat King Cole. 

Note to self: Must put prophetic talents to good use. A winning lottery ticket would be a great start.

I Just Found a Chicken Bone in My Cheesecake… Is that Bad?

Having founded his own internet solutions company, run the New York marathon and purchased his first sports car, my brother Oliver decided recently that 2012 would be the year he finally learnt to boil an egg. Cooking has never been a priority to him, with culinary talents at the age of thirty-something on par with my neighbour’s cat.

So to address this glaring oversight, Oli set himself a challenge to cook a different meal every day for thirty days, in the hope he would magically metamorphose into a slim, follicly-challenged Jamie Oliver. Once a week, he held a ‘Come Dine with Me’ style dinner party where each guest rated his cooking and general hosting skills.

I was fortunate enough to be invited along with my mother and youngest brother Mike for Sunday lunch at the end of this process, once Oli had mastered the basics.

Oli's attempt at a pancake didn't exactly fill me with confidence

There was still a moderate risk of food poisoning, but having taken advantage our mother’s cooking for over thirty years, we were all in agreement that it was about time Oli returned the favour. I should have noticed the warning signs though:

1. The roast chicken was the size of an albatross and had only been cooking for an hour and twenty-five minutes.

2. The carrots made a bid for freedom by jumping off the kitchen worktop.

3. Oli referred to his colander as coriander.

But the food was surprisingly yummy. Had it not been for the fact the chef needed to nuke the undercooked albatross in the microwave three times after it first came out of the oven, we may have eaten within an hour and a half of schedule.

Dessert was also delightful – a fabulous boozy cheesecake, laced with glacé cherries. The biscuity base was quite crumbly though, due to Oli neglecting to purchase butter at the supermarket. Praying alone was insufficient to bind the biscuit crumbs together. Mike however loved it. I think… 

Oli took the liberty of documenting the event for prosperity. See if you can notice the subliminal jessseeker plug. It’s really quite subtle:

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that the camera adds ten pounds – and there were at least six cameras on me at the time.

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”

1989 ROCKED

  • I was 7.
  • Kylie still loved Jason.
  • Alice bands, shell suits and scrunchies were in vogue.
  • I mastered handstands, cartwheels and cat’s cradle.
  • My troll collection quadrupled to an outrageously impressive: 4.
  • Wallace took Gromit on a grand day out and they ate lots of cheese.
  • A big wall fell down in Berlin and all the grown-ups got very excited.
  • My youngest brother Mike was born.

Admittedly, I didn’t necessarily greet the latter with the enthusiasm it deserved. I actually recall telling my parents in no uncertain terms to send him back.

My three other brothers failed to sympathise, as unlike me – they were delighted to have another man about the house.

After a year or two – I grew to love, adore and mother him.

Not just 2.4 children

There was a Simpsons’ poster on display in my father’s study for several years when I was growing up. It read –

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”.

I was never entirely sure what constituted ‘normal’ but I was pretty confident we weren’t it.

  • Oli was a nerd.
  • Chris sang. At all times.
  • I was the only girl and as such – terribly misunderstood.
  • Joe was into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aliens and dinosaurs.
  • Mike liked whatever Joe liked.
  • Dad worked roughly 87 hours a week.
  • Mum was the glue that held us all together.

There were certain logistical advantages to being the only girl – I got my very own room for example. I also got a lot of sympathy from strangers. “Four brothers? You poor thing. They must pick on you an awful lot”. God no. I was a red belt in Tae Kwon-Do, they wouldn’t dare.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing however:

  • Oli’s bedroom was next to mine. He played Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ on repeat at 140 decibels for about 3 years. I played Boyzone.
  • Chris decapitated my Tiny Tears doll. I punched him.
  • Joe shot me with Nerf bullets. A lot. I locked him in the garden shed.
  • Mike copied Joe. He also ended up in the shed.

Grown-ups (well, almost)

I’m pleased to report that Oli is still a nerd. A wildly successful one (they’re the best kind). As far as I know – he no longer listens to music that makes his ears bleed.

Chris no longer rips heads off dolls. He gets paid to buy stuff (genius I know) for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

I am still claiming to be misunderstood. On a positive note – I no longer have cause to punch my brothers or hold them captive.

Dad confiscated Joe’s Nerf gun on a Sunday afternoon in 1992, following an unfortunate incident with our neighbour’s pet goat. I don’t believe it was ever returned to him. He’s currently a Team Leader for Costa, loves playing host and is highly domesticated.

Mike no longer copies everything Joe does. He closely resembles a Wookiee and favours music that makes his ears bleed.

Families rule!