by Joanne Towers
Some of us were spotty, blemished and unkempt. We knew there would be no acceptance by those outside our little group. We knew this early on and set about making it so it wouldn’t hurt, giving ourselves an identity. Some of us, however, were perfect in every way; perfectly tall, slim, clear skinned, tanned and, consequently, feared by the rest. Why would we choose to outcast ourselves when we could so easily have been on the highest rung, top of the pile? They were hated, the ones who had it all but gave it away. We hung around the park in black baggy clothes, some of us could pull it off better than others.
It was all for the cause, not giving in to the world; the conventional, hateful, totally unfair world. No make up, no pop music no short skimpy skirts, no boys. We had austerity on our side and gloom. Of course the prettiest were turned to for their thoughts first, the tall were looked up to, the slim envied. The ugly, squat and fat of our ranks seethed at the ingratitude, the predictability of it all.
At school we fastened our ties in bulbous knots, allowing only the shortest of stumps to poke through, pointing to our breast. Some of us had more to point to than others. We glowered at those who came too close and never answered anything other than a direct question in class. Some of us knew the answers though, traitorously putting them down correctly and in full (showing our workings out) in essays and exams. Some of us bought in to qualifications, some of us revised. Some of us disregarded our rules entirely; met up with boys, got into trouble, forgot to care for the cause at all.
Some of us married, some of us got jobs. Some of us did both and lost all time for cataloguing the unfairness of it all. Some of us moved away to big cities, started wearing high heels and snazzy glasses designed to make our clients blink, sit up and listen, sign on the dotted line. Some of us had kids and sighed to see them grown, hunched and grumbling at the world, wearing only black. Some of us got sick and ailed, while others prospered but were hit by cars and buses on the way to meetings or the gym. Some of us looked back, laughed and shook our heads at how we had once been. Some of us stayed in touch, not all, but some.
Joanne Towers is a Geordie who has recently found herself living in a cottage in rural Wales. She was very shocked!