Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Letter To My Sixteen-Year-Old-Self.

West Yorkshire
November 2010

Dear Charlotte

Right now, you are terrified. You’ve just started at a new boarding school, the boys are bullies and the girl you suspect you’d like to be friends with is being horrible to you. Ignore the bullies (although I do have a bit of bad news – Tim Payne will end up playing rugby for England. Yeah I know, he’s really fat – go figure.) The girl you’d like to be friends with will end up being a great friend – you’ll even see her when you’re thirty.

Look kid, I’m going to be straight with you. Despite your appalling grades, you know that you’re really rather smart. You’re quietly confident that you’re pretty and you’re damn sure that you will be a success. This is not going to happen if you don’t put some work in. You may have coasted through life so far, but things are going to take a dramatic downhill turn if you don’t start doing some work. Nobody is magically going to make you rich. Steven Spielburg isn’t going to ring, begging you to be a leading lady. Prince William is not suddenly going to ask to marry you (though he will ask a very similar girl 15 years later.) In short, you get out of life what you put in – and right now, you’re putting in eff all.

Try to keep in touch with old friends. A number of mates from your old school are writing to you and you’re too wrapped up in the ‘now’ to bother writing back to them. Bad move. In a few years they will invent something called ‘Facebook’ and you will spend countless miserable hours flicking through photos of people you have lost your connection with; sharing their lives, their children and their husbands with each other. Look after friends. They are hard to make and easy to lose.

Acting might not be for you. You don’t take criticism well enough. Have you thought about writing? I know your mum does it and it seems boring, but you are actually rather good and you could save a lot of time by giving it a bash now, rather than in over a decade’s time.

Alcohol is not your friend. You’ve already got yourself in a lot of trouble and embarrassment with it and that could be set to continue. Keep away from it before it’s too late. You might want to give up smoking now as well. Oh sod it. A girl can’t be too squeaky – keep the tabs if you must.

Be nice to your mum. She gave a lot up for you. You’ll get it when you have your own children.

Stop obsessing about your weight. You’d be amazed how slim you are. For God’s sake don’t go sticking your finger down your throat. You’ll ruin your metabolism and your face will go puffy. Stop eating mayonnaise and learn to avoid cheese. That should do.

Learn to trust your instincts. You're usually bang-on. If you think somebody is no good, 99% of the time, they are no good.

Try to put up with your grandfather. He may be a bit of a bastard, but if he dies refusing to speak to you and never meets your children, you’ll regret it. Trust me on that one.

If you move down to London, do not go out with a bloke called Andy. You hated him when you met him and needing somewhere to live is not a great reason for having a relationship with someone. He’ll mess you up badly. Go home. London isn’t for you.

Stop eating cold curry for breakfast. I know it hasn’t made you ill yet, but it will in around ten years and you’d be better learning that lesson now, rather than losing those three days on the bathroom floor.

Do not go out on the 21st April 2002. Stay in. Read a book.

Realise how ridiculously lucky you are. Most school children do not get to go skiing, riding, scuba-diving etc. Stop turning down opportunities and do every activity you are offered. Playing pool and drinking pink grapefruit ‘Woody’s’ in The Globe with Ellie and Nicky does not constitute an ‘activity’.

Tidy your room. You’ll find it easier to find stuff.

Finally, do not be so upset when the headmaster and his cronies snub you when an external judge/poet awards you the public-speaking cup. Yes, it was mean and it was unjust and they should have congratulated you but don’t let such a stupid thing make you give up on trying. They are merely a handful of wankers in a world full of tossers. Stop being bitter. The only person it will affect is you.

You're quite brilliant in many ways - but not THAT brilliant. Put some work in darling. Believe in yourself a bit more. Stop gambling on fairy tale endings. They don't exist.

Love, Me.

(PS: The winner of The Grand National in 2010 is ‘Don’t Push It’, followed by ‘Black Apalachi’ and then ‘Big Fella Thanks’. You might want to look up what an accumulator bet is.)

(Inspired by 'Dear Me', a compilation of letters edited by Joseph Galliano, available on Amazon.)


  1. Hi Charlotte - thank you for your comment. I hope you're doing okay. You can email me helloemma@hotmail.com

  2. If only you could actually post that and it would get there eh?