Let me give you and image. Me at fourteen. I have just taken to wearing mascara and eyeliner. I pull my hair back tight into a high ponytail with two 'bits' hanging down. (For the `uninitiated, 'bits' are thick tendrils of hair left out of ponytail to frame face.) I have dyed the front of my hair blonde like Geri Halliwell (pictured) because that is which Spice Girl the popular boys at school said I looked most like.
|I later heard that my prematurely 32C bra size was the central cause of comparison. : (|
I smoked and wore trainers all the time, P.E. or no P.E., and often tracksuit bottoms too. I was weekly in detention and sent out of classrooms for crimes including flooding the maths block and locking teachers in the art cupboards (sorry Mrs Hudd).
Now let me talk about Iris. Lovely, natural Iris. She is the youngest in her year (her birthday is late summer, so most of her friends are ahead of her in terms of maturity). At 14 she still feels bad about lying to her parents and is only just beginning to climb out of her bedroom window (something I had probably grown out of by that time).
So, at fourteen, Iris and I were pretty different. Would we have been friends? I think yes. At the same time as I was smoking and acting tough on the local parks, I was also climbing trees and floating down the brook in the intube of a tractor tyre. I might not have known the names of as many species of insects and wildflowers as Iris, but I appreciated their brilliance. And although I was cheeky and rebellious at school, I was friendly and nice to most people.
Like Iris, I would have been intrigued by the Travellers living in her garden, and would have wanted to get to know them better. I would have been reluctant or unable to see the serious aspects of this wonderful turn of events. I would have wanted an adventure.
I would have understood what it's like to live with just your dad and older brother (I lived with my mum Monday to Thursday, my dad Thursday to Monday) and I would have sympathised with her missing her mum. I would have admired her spirit, and the way she didn't care at all about how she looked, and her culinary abilities.
So, yes. If Iris Dancy could see past my sports jacket, tough facade and black eyeliner we would likely have been the best of friends as teens. And knowing Iris as intimately as I do, I have no doubt that she could.
C.J. Flood writes short stories, plays and novels. Her first novel INFINITE SKY comes out with Simon and Schuster in February 2013. Her second book follows in 2014.
Follow her on Twitter or visit her blog.