I was a miserable thirteen-year-old. Is there any other kind? Thirteen is a bewildering age. Too old for minding, too young for freedom and all that news of impending womanhood is hardly a barrel of laughs.
To my rescue came an English teacher whose name, to my shame, has escaped me. She was still a trainee teacher. She had dark, wavy hair and wore clogs and fringed skirts. There were beads and feathers about her person. She was a bona fide hippie. Fabulous.
She scratched new words on the blackboard which we recited like magic spells: metaphor, alliteration and, oh, my absolute favourite, onomatopoeia. She had us write rhyming couplets in the style of Ezra Pound and praised our efforts regardless of their dedication to George Michael or Spandau Ballet.
She instructed us to keep a diary. Write what you feel, she said, and I did. I bought a blue, fake-leather-bound (I thought it was real leather) diary and I wrote. For a girl who spoke little, who found it near impossible to say what she felt, that writing was like putting a tap on my soul. All the angst, sadness, despair, and yes, God damn it, unrequited lust just poured out of me.
I wrote for years and years and years, long past my teens. Then, I wrote long letters to friends and discovered the thrill of a response. Then, I wrote this blog. Without Miss Hippie-Clogs, I wouldn’t be here writing to you. I wouldn’t have known how to do this. In fact, I believe that without that outlet I wouldn’t be here, full stop. I would have drowned in that rising tide of feelings.
I was delighted, honoured in fact, when the magnificent Sam of Agnesforgirls encouraged me to pass Miss Hippie-Clogs’ message on to a new generation of girls. I expounded the benefits of keeping a diary HERE. I also contributed to THIS list of suggested reading for girls.
Agnesforgirls.com, just Agnes to her friends, is a brilliant new website, launching today, for girls aged from 11 to 18 (or thereabouts). Agnes aims to provide girls with all the information and encouragement they might need to become competent, brave and happy young women. I wish Agnes had been around in my day.
As a mother, I would put my trust in Agnes. I’ve read just about every page of the site and I am convinced that my teenage daughters are safe and well-cared for in Agnes’ hands.
I hope you will take a look at the site and spread the word to any parents or daughters who might appreciate it.
The future is a blank page, my friends.