January 12th 2001- The Master Plan

Yet another, endless, pointless day at school, but at least for now I can find salvation in the fact we’ve been granted a small fragment of freedom in the form of the long awaited weekend which I know will fly by just like the holidays did. But still, time off, no matter how short, is like gold dust to me.

‘World Against Me’ is proving to be a great success. It will need lots of work and redrafting before I get it how I want it, of course, but so far it is capturing all the ideas and images I aimed for and it will fit in perfectly with my master plan. So what is my master plan? I’ll try to explain. There will be a series of books all based in the imaginary town of Davingham, including ‘World Against Me’, ‘The Edgefield Crew’ and some untitled ones I have planned. Now, in the background of all the Davingham novels is the looming shadow of the old mental home: Davingham Institue of Mental Health and Rehabilitation. In the case of ‘The Edgefiell Crew’ it is a very prominent shadow. None of the characters are really aware of the importance of this old building, none of them know that it controls Davingham, it thrives on despair and it feeds on and breeds the already existing evil in each individual novel. Finally we will come to the big conclusion, the novel which will sum up and bind together all of the other novels in the series, the revelation of exactly why it is the old mental home’s presence is so strong and dominating. Each novel will be written in first person so they are personal accounts of different people who have lived in Davingham at different times. Then when they are all done an edition can be brought out with all of them combined one book, including the conclusion, and this will be called ‘The Davingham Journals’. It’s a scheme I’m hoping will work well but there should be no more than four novels (excluding the conclusion) or else the mental home idea might wear a bit thin. Each novel should also stand well on its own and shouldn’t be too closely linked to the others or they’ll just seem like a series of sequels. It shouldn’t be obvious that they are part of a master plan until the release of the conclusion.


January 13th 2001- Not Ready to Grow Up

Tina has been going on about that holiday to France again, but there’s no way I will be going. She was asking where we were going on holiday because she said they might go somewhere nearby instead of France at the same time as we go so I could still do stuff with them. Even if they don’t manage to sort anything like that it’s still nice to know I have friends who would be willing to change their plans for me, I had never realised that anyone was that bothered about me. I used to always feel like an outsider, a kind of tag along, ever since we moved here four years ago but I think maybe now I have eventually found my place, I’m starting to discover where I belong, it’s just a shame it’s taken so long and we’ll all be apart again when we have to leave school and I’ll have to start all over again. Leaving school was a thing I used to look forward to (and yes, I do detest school as you’ve probably gathered) but when the time comes close you start to think different, will work really be any better? No. It will be worse. It will be the same repressive atmosphere, like being forced to the grind stone, doing endless repetitive tasks and being controlled by a boss, only there will be less holidays and longer hours. Hardly any time to write, I might just have to die, I am dreading it. It’s weird because somehow I don’t feel ready to be thrown headlong without any idea what to expect into that huge cutting blender that is the adult world of work. I’ll be expected to grow up completely, take responsibility, I don’t think I can do that yet. I don’t want to be lumbered with things like that, there’s too much I need to do, I need some time just to be me. I think when I start work I’ll have to go through this huge process of metamorphosis which will result in me turning into this boring, problem crippled, lonely, friendless individual before my time. It will be like closing the door on my childhood, pushing away the fun that I could have. I’m not ready to grow up yet, I can’t stand it.

Went to Glasgow today and bought some more nose rings. I couldn’t get my mobile to send any texts today.

January 11th 2001- It Aint All Doom and Gloom

Today has been a lot more positive. Perhaps I was wrong in a lot of things I said yesterday, it aint all doom and gloom, at least I don’t think it is. Why should I have no chance with that lad? We have things in common, from what I gather from his appearance and the things he says, and also the music he listens to. He is a very similar character to me and people like us are a minority in this society. A lot of what I said yesterday is not true. I do have a chance. Let me tell you why I think so. Before the Christmas holidays he came into our sixth year common room with his friend to play cards with us. He’s usually a very chirpy character but during his time with us he was very quiet and hardly said a word and he wouldn’t look at me straight as if he was afraid I might see something there. He was speaking to me today in class too. Now I know this isn’t positive evidence, it’s very possible I have read things the wrong way, or it’s wishful thinking, so I’m staying quiet. But I can’t help but feel a sort of hope. I should see him again tomorrow so I’ll just wait and see what happens.

Some people have shown an interest in buying our house so we went to look at some ourselves. The ones we went to se where just up the street from where we live now, which will be convenient for school buses but I would feel a bit stupid moving a few doors down.

My friend Tina is planning a holiday to France and she asked me and loads of other people to go, Mam’s not too happy about it though so I don’t think I’ll be going. It sounded like it would be fun, most of the people going are moshers and they all like the same kind of music as me, but they probably won’t be able to get it organised anyway so I don’t suppose it really matters that much. I didn’t argue with Mam over its though because I know we can’t afford it and I don’t like to cause unrest and upset by being difficult. Peace is a very precious thing and every effort should be made to preserve it.

January 10th 2001- I Never get the Guy

Nothing major happened today but a school day is a school day and a school day is a bad day. But I do have a problem, something I haven’t mentioned yet. There’s a kid in school and I can’t take my mind off him, I’ve had him in my head constantly for weeks now and it just makes me so depressed. I’m not going to give any details at all about him yet, not even a hint that might reveal his identity, because I don’t want to be humiliated. It’s always the same though. No one is ever in the slightest bit interested in me and I’ve made the mistake in the past of telling people when there’s someone I like and it always ends up the same: it gets back to the person in question and as they never like me the situation becomes really embarrassing. It’s happened to me twice so far and the weeks surrounding my revelations were hell, I have no intention of ever letting it happen again, even if he might like me, I won’t take the chance of rejection and embarrassment, so any feelings I have for this kid will be kept sealed in a bottle forever unless, by the remotest of possibilities, I hear for certain that he is interested in me. And why do I get so depressed when I think about him or see him? Because every time I do I can think of nothing but my own ugliness and inadequacy, about how no lad on planet earth will ever give me a second glance unless it’s to convince themselves that their first perception was right and that I really do look like a fat ugly monster. Yet I can’t chase his image away, there’s just something so compelling about him, and I’ve dreamed about him too, really strange things such as walking down a spiral staircase with him while searching for my friend Kelly. Wonder what that signifies? I’m lonely. I live in a house full of people but I am lonely. Why is life so unfair? Why do I never get the guy? I feel as if I might die if I can’t have him. I did a really stupid thing, something so out of character: as a last resort I prayed, I begged for him but nothing changed. I know I should just forget about it completely but it’s hard, I can’t stop thinking about him. Tragedy as always but I have no lyrics to fit this one.

A Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

As I have been going over my 2001 diary and blogging it I have realised it was a very significant year in my life. It shaped who I am today in many ways. It was the year I became determined to become a writer. The year I was faced with leaving school, filled with fears about how repressive the world of adult work would be. It was the year I discovered alternative culture and started writing songs and dreaming of playing in a band. It was also the year my mental illness began. On the back of these themes that crop up constantly in this diary I feel I have  few things I’d like to say to my sixteen year old self.


You dreamed so much a being a writer in those days. The pages of your diary are filled with the book you were working on at the time, World Against Me, and what high hopes you had for it. Let me tell you that while things may not have reached the dizzying heights you imagined you do still write and you did get a publishing deal with a small publishing house three years ago, when you were 29. You released your “Punk Rock Memoir” trilogy with them and although you haven’t made enough money to quit the day job and sales are sometimes non existent, I think you’d be tickled pink to know you have a book that is stocked by Waterstones! Besides, there’s still plenty of time for that best seller!

The adult world of work is not as bad as you feared. It has not turned you into, how did you put it in your diary, ‘a lonely, friendless, problem crippled, monotonous individual’. You’ve had some seriously shit jobs which have done there best to try and do exactly that to you but you have persevered and never let them take that alternative, creative spirit that was nurtured in 2001 by your love of your so called ‘moshers’. You are now in place where you are free to have crazy hair, piercings, tattoos and you get paid decent money too, and all of that sort of makes up for the fact that you haven’t really built yourself an actual career yet. You’ve been there seven years. The fact that your job allows you to be completely yourself is the main thing that has kept you there. I know how important being allowed to be yourself was, you wrote about it often enough in that diary!

Since first dabbling in that world of alternative culture with the ‘moshers’ at school you have been a goth with dyed black hair and new rock boots, a cyber goth fusing victorian mourning wear with neon rave gear, a punk with a full blown mohawk and doc marten boots. I don’t really know what you are now. There’s bits of all three in there I guess. You’ve been tattooed multiple times. You have really cool dreadlocks. You still wear the doc marten boots and the black eyeliner. You still listen to Green Day and the Offspring sometimes and you’ve picked up many more favourites along the way. I think you’d be pretty happy with how quirky you still are.

You used to dream of being in a band but told yourself you lacked musical ability. You thought the most you could hope for was giving away your songs to other bands. How would you feel if I told you you’ve been in two bands? You played bass for an industrial group, and played gigs at some of Glasgows best venues. You even had a record deal briefly and released a single, but again, it was never quite enough to quit the day job. After that you fronted a punk band and played support slots with bands who were pretty big in the 70s. And you even play solo acoustic gigs after discovering you can actually sing and play guitar. You have two albums out there now.

You wrote often about how ugly you felt in those days. You truly believed yourself to be hideous and were convinced no one could ever love you. Well guess what? Now while I’m not claiming you have turned into some kind of  great beauty you are happy with how you look now (most of the time, we all have bad days). You fell in love when you were nineteen with someone who loves you for who you are and you have been married for 11 years.

One thing I will say is watch out for that sadness that you began to feel in 2001. You write about it creeping in but you don’t understand what it is or where it comes from. You couldn’t see it at the time but the sadness was depression. You were unwell that year, it’s the reason your school work went downhill, why a usually intelligent girl suddenly felt incapable and stupid. It wasn’t because you’d become a dunce as you often described yourself, you were just sick. Sadly you will be sick a lot. It will always come and go and will always make your life that little bit more of a struggle. You’ll suffer it for ten years before finally seeing it for what it is and seeking help. I’m not going to lie, it gives you hell sometimes, but you always pull through because you have some amazing people in your life and over the years you will get better an managing it.

You’ve done some pretty cool thing over the last sixteen years. Aside from all of the above you have travelled: New York, Marrakesh, Toronto, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Venice. You once had a motorbike. You own a house and travel to your caravan in the countryside at weekends and keep hares as pets. You may not be a famous author like you planned (yet) but you’ve achieved lots. If I could tell you one thing I’d tell you not to worry. All the fears you wrote about are unfounded. You are not ugly. You do not loose yourself to the corporate world of work. Everything works out and you are not much different not to what you were then.

And one more thing. You seemed to worry so much about losing touch with your nest friend friend from primary school when you moved away from Newcastle aged 13. Well there’s good news there too. You are still best friends, you talk all the time and continue to help each other through lifes problems, just like you always did, so nothing has changed there.

Don’t worry, you pretty much get everything you want, just maybe on a bit of a smaller scale.

January 9th 2001- The Racist Bullies

I don’t see why I should take this crap, after a day like this you just feel like chopping yourself into little bits and it’s all because of school. This morning we left the house to catch the school bus at our usual time of 8.20am. The bus normally comes at about half past but today, as we stepped out of the door, we saw it whizz by on the main road. We had missed it and had to get a service bus to the town centred walk to school from there but my school shoes hurt my feet if I walk too far in them so by time I got there my feet where throbbing. It was the perfect taster for how hellish the rest of the day would be. My first class was English with Mr. Williams and as if to justify everything I said on Sunday I was made to look like a brainless twit. My head was killing me and we were doing poetry, the teacher asked me to pick out the consonants in one of the lines. I looked down at the page but my mind was blank, for some reason I just couldn’t think and so was unable to answer. Consonants! Everyone knows what they are and now the teacher will think I don’t, therefore I am the stupidest person ever in his eyes. I feel like an imbosele. That wasn’t the end of it either. As I was going to music some people told me that I looked like this other girl and when I replied “I don’t” they all started laughing and mimicking my accent. “You’re English!” whooped one. “Piggy!” snorted another and they all followed behind me taking up the chant of “English pig!” I thought I was over all of that. What have I done to deserve things like this? Why can’t people just let me be who I am? I’ve never done anybody any harm. It’s like they’re all against me, banded together against the ‘English pig’. Comments like that seem to follow me everywhere. A total stranger came up to me one day and told me “You’re really ugly” and all I can think is, you don’t even know me, what gives you the right to judge me? Why? Why me? Why does this always happen to me? Or in the words of the rock band Travis, ‘why does it always rain on me?’ These bands have such appropriate lyrics, they’re written by people like me, repressed freaks. I understand maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t like them, they haven’t liked it so they can’t understand.

January 8th 2001- Another Brick in the Wall

Back to the repressive manacles of school. Oh dark depression! I am not exaggerating, Monday is only a half day for me so I’ve only had to endure four periods instead of six and already I am totally miserable. The deep dread turned to utter depression the second I entered my first class. I think that song by Pink Floyd got it bang on when it said “we don’t need no thought control”, because that’s what schools do, they tell people how to think. They tell you who to be. They take you like putty and try to mold you into something that they think you should be. The minute you step into school your identity is torn away, you loose your true self and become nothing but a zombie, a being who isn’t expected to have any opinions or feelings, to school you are not an individual just another statistic in their league tables, or, if you prefer, “Just another brick in the wall”. School is destroying me. I am failing badly, falling behind, the pressure is too much. I am a free spirit, an artist, I don’t take too kindly to being placed on a conveyor belt that produces processed, ready made professionals. There’s no room in the education system for creatives, no scope for artists and freedom, they only look towards producing doctors, lawyers, accountants, things that require exams, no one ever provides support or encouragement for poets, novelists, artists or musicians. They are going to kill all such people if they continue to push people forcefully into the trained professions. I feel trapped. I feel frowned upon. I feel shunned. Like an academic underachiever, or even a failure. Oh hell. I sat on the floor this afternoon when everyone was out and cried, I mean literally. Why will nobody believe in me? Why am I such a disaster? Why am I so thick? Why am I so ugly? Why won’t they let me be me? I want to live in a world where I belong. I don’t belong in this world where you have to have the highest grades, where the headmaster’s attitude is if you don’t do to university you’ll be a failure. Well, as I say, I might look back on this one day when I’m a best selling author and say “who’s the failure now?”