1996 A Retrospective.

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” Trainspotting (1996) Danny Boyle/John Hodge

The year is 1996, the British film industry is about to be rocked by one of the most iconic films to hit the cinema since the last iconic film hit the, er, cinema. I am 17 going on 18 years old and, if my diary is anything to go by, A TOTAL NUTTER.

No, seriously, like psychotic crazy. I don’t even know how it went unnoticed. 
For this week’s blog (as per my New Years resolution – here) I thought it would be fun to use the release of T2 Trainspotting as an excuse to have a look back to what I was doing 21 years ago. Cue searching under-bed boxes and bookshelves for my 1996 diary. In the process I found my VHS of Trainspotting, a box full of all kinds of memorabilia-crap, some scrapbooks, several photo albums and, eventually, all my old diaries.

Thinking it would provide me an amusing insight to mid-nineties life and therefore some great material to blog about, I started on my diary. First off, it turns out instead of confiding in Dear Diary, I chose to confide in the protagonist from Clive Barker’s Cabal. Yeah, a mentally ill young man who tries to kill himself and eventually becomes part of a society of ‘monsters’ called the Night Breed. Like I said, nutter. I’d actually write to him as if he were real and could see and influence events. Proper nutter. I’d write things like, “it happened just like you said”, or “well you know, you were there”. I guess as diaries are really only written for yourself, you could argue that I was there or I did know but I doubt it was even remotely that rational.

The main content flits between self obsessed ramblings about my relationship, school work and the quest to get a job. One entry details how, once I got a job (a brief tenure working the phones at PC World) I’d be raking it in at a whopping “£200 a month, £2000 a year!” Living the dream right there eh!  Every other day is a relationship drama, to be fair this is clearly hinted at with the title page which has a quote from a Def Leppard song written on it. 

Things don’t really improve when I get to university. In fact uni seemed to just give me the opportunity to write some really terrible poetry. For example (and please, if you’ve made it this far, I can only apologise);

Liebe Stirbt Nie

Here in your darkened room,

I wait.

I know where you are,

I’ve heard your lies, I just don’t know your reasons.

I drove miles to see you,

Yet you make no effort to see me,

Now I’m here.

I ask ‘walls are silent,

Happy voices outside.

People leaving to go home.

I could be home, with friends

But no, I’m here, alone.

I think what I would have done.

If I were you.

But I’m not.

You send lies via a messenger,


Shows not even you can trust friends

Or perhaps he sympathises.

I hear you coming back.

I want to confront you and fight.

But how do I know where the truth lies?

I’ll wait, perhaps you’ll confess.

But do I want to fight? 

I’m only here two days.

Futility grabs this relationship

Two years and I rarely see you

Except perhaps, two days a week.


Because I love you.

But do you love me?

I hear you open the door

And the walls come alive

With your voice.
Yeah, Carol Ann Duffy it’s not. 

So, having trolled through my life as it was 21 years ago I found myself thinking, what was the point. I knew I wanted to use it for a blog but what exactly was the purpose? A look back at how much of a saddo I was? A letter of apology to my parents? In discussing the project with my friend Naomi I discovered that we were both very similar at 18. Talking to my parents, once dad had finished telling me what a nightmare I was to live with, they both reassured me that I wasn’t exactly untypical of the average eighteen year old. Mum reminded me that at that age you’re becoming an adult but still feel like a child. Throw in the added complications of adult relationships (ALL eighteen olds are horny and sex obsessed and convinced they discovered undying love and devotion with THE ONE) with the need for independence, vying with the habit of running to your parents when things go wrong AND THEN throw in the complications of university life and it’s no wonder everything is such a MASSIVE deal.

The lesson to be learned from all of this, I think, is that growing up is a series of complications and disappointments and figuring yourself out, of unequal relationships and learning what exactly a reasonable expectation is. It’s about drama and absolutes and completely cringeworthy behaviour. It’s about broken hearts, bad hair and terrible, terrible crimes against fashion. What it isn’t is something to regret, rather it’s something to celebrate, for it is everything that you are and in getting here, you survived it all when, let’s be honest, there were days when you thought you wouldn’t. It’s also something that belongs quite firmly in the past. Nobody needs to see how much of a nobhead they used to be. Not really. 
“Choose looking up old flames and wishing you’d done it all differently.” You know what Renton, old man, I think I’ll not, if it’s all the same to you.



  1. Wow,

    A Heartbreakingly brutal read.

    You picked me up and changed my life around.

    I loved you, you broke my heart, I never knew I broke yours.

    How did an upcoming birthday, a Rod Stuart cover version and a little angels cd lead me here today after 21 years.

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