Big 50, Volume 15: When I Was a Teenager
When I was a teenager, it was the ’80s. God that seems like such a long time ago now.
I went to school in a public State School, and had a really hideous uniform. The junior part of the school wore a grey princess line pinafore with a white button up, collared shirt underneath, black Bata Ponytails and white ankle socks for the girls, and grey shorts and button up, collared shirts, and black Bata Scouts with grey knee socks for the boys. In winter we could wear a maroon jumper. The seniors wore a white button up, collared shirt and a grey sack of a skirt for the girls, grey shorts for the boys. More Bata shoes and and white ankle socks for the girls, grey knee socks for the boys. Our sports uniform was a maroon skirt (it started out as a flat wrap skirt when I was first in high school but they changed it to one of those awful pleated netball skirts when I was in year 9 or 10), a white polo shirt (which they later changed to this hideous collared v-neck t-shirt that clinged to budding young breasts terribly) with black “runners” or sports knickers worn underneath. The boys had maroon shorts and a white polo shirt. It was all pretty ugly and impractical.
My teenage years were tough for a lot of reasons, but I think in this post I’ll remember all of the positive things from that time.
I was a music fanatic. I watched Video Hits on a Saturday morning, Countdown of a Sunday evening, and later Rage through the night and into the early morning. I bought every music magazine I could get my hands on when I had the money, and taped all my favourite songs off the radio. When I could I bought records and cassettes, and always put my order in for music for my birthdays and Christmas. My bedroom was completely wallpapered with pictures of my favourite bands and artists out of magazines, not a bit of wall visible. I covered my school books in pictures out of magazines too. When I was about 16 I started going to live gigs too. The first Australian band I saw were Icehouse, and they were shit live. The first international band I saw were Transvision Vamp, and while they sounded good, the lead singer was so fucked up on drugs she could barely stand, was wearing a filthy pale pink dress and couldn’t remember the lyrics.
A significant moment in my youth was Live Aid. I was completely blown away by Do They Know It’s Christmas (which people think is naff now, but it was a really big deal at the time) and when I heard Bob Geldof was getting together musicians from all over the world for a HUGE concert to be simulcast globally, to raise money for famine struck nations in Africa, I knew that I wouldn’t miss a minute of it. I remember sitting through the whole 16 hours or whatever it was, set up camp in the living room to watch it all. I remember using the live crosses to Molly Meldrum to go to the bathroom, because even then I loathed Molly bloody Meldrum! I remember Phil Collins jumping into a helicopter, then on to a concord so that he could do both the London and Philadelphia gigs. I remember watching Freddie Mercury completely blow everyone away with how amazing and powerful his voice was, and his fantastic stage presence. I remember Bob Geldof raising his fist in that moment of I Don’t Like Mondays and the whole world just stopping, holding their breath and letting that moment sink in, as to what we’d all done. And I remember his embarrassment at being hoisted up onto the shoulders of Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend at the end of the gig, the tears streaming down my face that it was coming to an end.
The first movie I went and saw without any family members was Ghostbusters. I saw it at the drive-in with friends, some of whom were older boys with cars. My parents would never have let me go if they’d known, but I was at a sleepover with a friend, and off we went. I remember it was a ute (pickup for those of you outside of Australia) and we backed in and watched from the tray of the ute. It was AWESOME. I think I was 13 or 14.
I remember getting drunk for the first time at a party too. I had somehow procured two flagons of very cheap, nasty port (we called it monkey blood because it looked like Mercurochrome, that antiseptic stuff you would paint on wounds) and drank the bulk of them. I woke up in a garden behind the house, covered in dirt. I remember trying to sneak into the house un-noticed because I felt so gross, only to be met in the hallway by the hottest dude in my school. He simply hugged me and said “You had a big one last night huh?” and we were firm friends from that day on. Sadly I’ve lost contact with him. He probably still has my initials, tattooed on his ankle in maths class when we were about 16.
What about you? What are your defining moments from your teenage years? Do you remember all of your firsts from those years?