The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard

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December 1997


Monday 1st December

Today I’m mostly trying not to feel sad. Dad loved Christmas, but he isn’t here to enjoy it now. Ian and Gav have got Sonic The Hedgehog advent calendars. Jenni has got a fair trade one from Oxfam. Carina Norman overheard us talking about this and tried to embarrass Jenni, saying “Yeah, I’ve seen your Mum shopping in Oxfam” but Jenni told her they do good coffee and they help the disadvantaged and just wasn’t embarrassed so Carina gave up. In Maths Matty Bateman farted and it sounded exactly like the start of the theme tune to Jonny Briggs.

I spent the evening reading the Woolies Winter Wonderland catalogue. The toys just seem like gaudy trinkets to me now, Dear Diary. I still read it from cover to cover though.

Tuesday 2nd December

I need to stop worrying about people I love dying. I’ve become preoccupied with this thought, wondering who will be next. I need to remember Lady Macbeth’s “let things without all remedy be without regard”, although there sort of is a remedy for heart disease if it is caught in time. If Dad had still lived here with me and Mum, instead of on his own, would he still be alive? This thought keeps going round in my head. I need to find some way of exorcising it.

Wednesday 3rd December

The last will and testament of Cleo Howard:

I leave my music to Ian Edwards and my clothes to Jenni Maxwell. I leave my books to the school library. I leave my heart to Barry (figuratively, but I also leave it literally to be transplanted into someone else or if it’s knackered genetically like Dad’s was, then to medical research).

I’ve been listening to Paradise Lost’s Gothic album all evening. I told Mum I needed money for STs but actually I’m going to buy Tampax.

Thursday 4th December

I bought Tampax today and a box of Walnut Whips for Mum for Christmas. If you squint the blue boxes look similar. I’m trying to think of an album or T-shirt to buy Barry for Christmas.

Friday 5th December

Brilliant day! I saw Barry today and he said he really missed me when he didn’t see me last week (I was at Jenni’s birthday dinner). I said I missed him too. This has been the best day for ages and the first time I haven’t thought about Dad loads since he died. Barry’s Mum was at bingo as usual so we went to his house. He asked me if I wanted to go upstairs and said we didn’t have to and he wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to. We lay on his bed and kissed for ages. It was one of the best snogs I’ve ever had in my life. He had his hands on the back of my neck while his tongue was in my mouth and it was the kind of kiss that leaves your knickers moist. Even when I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept trying to tell him I was fifteen but most of the time his tongue was in my mouth.

Saturday 6th December

We went to Poundland and Jenni got some purple sparkly wool. She is going to learn to knit. She has already made the bat from the kit I bought her for her birthday and hung it from her ceiling. We went to Graffiti in Smelly Alley and I got some Stargazer glitter nail varnish and some matching glitter make up that you can use as eye shadow or blusher. It’s sort of all the colours at once, depending on where the light hits the glitter. I love going round the shops at Christmas. We spent ages looking at the decorations in Heelas and Jacksons.

I wore my Alice Cooper T-shirt, snake print skirt and red studded belt to the Green Man tonight and had a glittery face and glittery nails. Glitter makes me feel cheerful. I think I’ll wear it all December.

Lex told me my nail varnish is iridescent. Other things that can be iridescent are soap bubbles and butterfly wings. Shot said I remind her of a sweet little fairy. This is one of the loveliest things anyone has ever said to me.

Sunday 7th December

The Teletubbies are number one. What is wrong with this country? We used to have a reputation for making great music. I like the bit at the start of the Teletubbies where some bunnies are quietly hopping about and nibbling grass but then their habitat is ruined by some brightly coloured morons appearing and running about the place.

Monday 8th December

Carina Norman wants the Peter Andre album for Christmas. If I was Santa she would be getting coal but since life is unfair she’ll probably get what she wants.

Tuesday 9th December

Mr Freeman told us today that the French Father Christmas has got a helper called Père Fouettard that spanks the bad French children. Having never been to France, and not knowing any actual French people, I’m never sure if the things Mr Freeman tells us are true or if he’s just making stuff up to fill time before the bell goes. He also told us that the people of Lyon put candles in their window to celebrate the Virgin Mary. I feel sorry for Mary. It must have been embarrassing that everyone knew she was a virgin plus she didn’t even have sex and she had to give birth, which is grim. I’d be embarrassed if even my class knew my sexual history (I know I don’t actually have one yet, but I’m hoping to get one soon. I wonder if Père Fouettard would consider this intention a spankable offence or whether he’s more relaxed about it because he’s French? Jenni went topless in France but it was apparently normal so it’s clearly not as uptight as Reading).

Wednesday 10th December

I’m reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett again. Right now I feel safer and happier in Discworld than in this world. Some days Dear Diary, I feel okay, some days I feel okay and then I feel guilty that I feel okay when Dad is dead and other days I feel bleak and sad right from the minute I wake up.

Thursday 11th December

Mum asked me if there is anything I’d like as a treat because she knows I’ve had a hard time lately. I said there was a black lace dress in Dorothy Perkins I’d like. She said she’ll give me the money and I can go and get it tomorrow. I made us both a cup of tea.

Friday 12th December

I got my dress after work. I love it. I think Barry does too. Unfortunately I also got my period. I bled in my new knickers which was annoying. Damn my unreliable fanny. Me and Barry went to his house and lay on his bed. I put my hand inside his trousers!! I know what I want for Christmas Dear Diary! It is not available in the Woolie’s Winter Wonderland catalogue!

Saturday 13th December

Ella came out with mistletoe tonight. She kissed most of the pub. She has got some balls. Lizzie suggested she focus on the two or three men she actually fancies and then Ella got in a bit of a huff. Lizzie and Ella have been friends since junior school. Ella is much more man hungry than Lizzie is.

When we were walking home Ian said he would be scared of Ella comparing him to other men if he had sex with her.

Sunday 14th December

Mum is very grumpy today. I offered to paint her nails glittery (this cheers me up, Dear Diary) but she said she is not allowed fancy nails at work. I need to make sure I get a job where I’m allowed to wear what I want.

Monday 15th December

Something is bothering me a lot Dear Diary. Barry still thinks I’m in the sixth form. I never told him I was, he just thought I was and I didn’t tell him I wasn’t. This was ages ago, before we were spending time together alone. It seems wrong not to tell him, I probably should have mentioned it ages before and I do keep trying but sometimes when we’re together it just doesn’t seem important. We don’t talk about school or his work much because it’s boring. I do keep trying to tell him but not finding the right moment.

Mr Kennedy gave us loads of Maths homework. For the love of Lemmy, doesn’t he have any Christmas spirit? I wouldn’t mind if he regularly gave us homework but he doesn’t that often.

Tuesday 16th December

I asked Jenni if she thought I should tell Barry I’m not in the sixth form. She said I should and was surprised I hadn’t already. It’s alright for her, she’s good at talking to people and she is already sixteen so doesn’t have to worry about this. If she was going out with Barry she would probably just tell him she was going to have sex with him in about six months and then offer him some couscous while he waits (which he’d be allowed to eat in her bedroom). Suppose I tell Barry and he’s angry with me for not telling him before? Some men don’t seem to care about how old you are. Barry is a bright spot in my dark existence, a warm body in a cold, lonely world.

I asked Ian what he thought and he said it’s okay when people who are both underage have sex if they are mature enough, but not if it’s people of different ages, especially if one of them doesn’t know the true age of the other one. I know he’s right.

Mrs Butler came round with some magazines for Mum so I read the problem pages. There was a lot of stuff about people’s families being awkward at Christmas. I don’t have the dilemma of which of my parents to spend Christmas with now I only have one.

I’m going to tell Barry I’m almost sixteen as soon as I see him on Friday.

Wednesday 17th December

Ian and I went to see Betty after school. Ian got the Christmas tree and decorations out of the loft for her. Betty said she was getting too old to go up there. She said she tries not to moan about getting old because there are many people who aren’t lucky enough to get old. She let us eat some of the chocolate tree decorations. We made some snowflakes out of folded paper to stick on Betty’s kitchen window because the ones Ian and Gav made years ago have got ripped.

Thursday 18th December

I visited Nanny Howard today and she told me to go and take anything I wanted from Dad’s old wardrobe. I stood inside it for a while and I couldn’t help crying at the smell of him. It was so real but he is so dead. I made myself stop crying because I didn’t want to upset Nanny. I already feel bad that I leave it ages between visits. I took a couple of rugby shirts and I found condoms in a jacket pocket of Dads! It was a full packet of eighteen with none of them used. This could mean one of two things:

1.My Dad was a very optimistic man, who didn’t get laid (like father, like daughter!)

2.My Dad was such a prolific shagger he had to buy condoms in large size packs (I have no evidence of him ever having relations with anyone except Mum)

Or, there was a special offer on in Boots. He did always like a bargain.

I’ve taken them to literally protect Nanny from finding protection. They were Durex featherlite. I never expected to find out my Dad’s preferred condom brand. I’m hiding them inside my Holly Hobbie night dress case. I never wear a night dress anyway, just a Slayer T-shirt.

Friday 19th December

Well I’ll never be needing condoms. I met Barry tonight and on the walk to his house I told him that I wasn’t in the sixth form. He wasn’t angry exactly but he was weird with me. He said we were still mates and that he’ll say hello when he sees me in the Green Man but he doesn’t want to take me back to his house when his Mum is out and he can’t see me this Friday because he’s got to visit family for Christmas. He said maybe he would take me for a drink again next year but he might not. I pretended I understood but I don’t really. I came home and cried for ages and when Mum came in from work she thought I was crying about Dad and she said she knows how I feel and she misses him too. Then I started crying about Dad and Barry. I feel like everyone leaves me. Then I started crying because Mum says she knows how I feel, but actually she doesn’t, she has no idea of the things that are really, truly important to me. I let Mum hug me for a bit.

Saturday 20th December

Condom questions:

What would I have thought if they had been fruit flavour?

What would I have thought if the pack had been half empty?

What would have happened last night if I hadn’t told Barry?

Mum asked me if I’m going to put the Christmas decorations up this weekend. I suppose I should. I went into town and bought Rammstein’s Sehnsucht album for Jenni and a Red Dwarf T-shirt with Lister on for Ian. My Christmas shopping is now done. Every one of the magazines Mrs Butler brought round has a slightly different mince pie recipe and Mum was deciding which ones to make. She asked me what I thought of puff pastry and said she thinks filo is a step too far.

I went to the pub and left Mum with her pastry quandary. It really doesn’t matter to me. Ella sat on the lap of a cute guy in a Santa hat tonight. He looked about thirty! She had mistletoe with her again. T-Reg tucked it into his belt and asked her to kiss him under it! Mopey Dick called him unoriginal but Dear Diary, I suspect he’d have tucked mistletoe into his belt quick as a flash if it would get him a kiss from Ella. He is about the only one who hasn’t had at least a snog from her. She told me she doesn’t like people who think they are superior to other people. Mopey isn’t bad looking but he seems mean and bitchy sometimes. When we were leaving the pub everyone hugged everyone because it’s Christmas. I got to smell T-Reg up close.

Sunday 21st December

This morning the front page of the Reading Chronicle didn’t read “Mince Pie Pastry Change Creates Hole in Space-time Continuum”.

I can’t stop listening to The Ramones’ Too Tough To Die album.

Monday 22nd December

Mum is working overtime so Ian came round. I started putting up the Christmas decorations and he helped. Then I started crying and he hugged me for ages and said it was okay and that he’ll always be there for me. He gave me a tissue when I stopped crying and he carried on hugging me and I felt a bit weird. I could hear his heart beating and he smelt good (he doesn’t wear aftershave like T-Reg, he wears Lynx Oriental). He was stroking my hair and telling me not to be sad because my Dad wouldn’t want me to be sad. Then he had to go because Mum was coming home.

Tuesday 23rd December

I went to see Nanny Howard this morning. I invited Mum but she didn’t want to come. She said she was knackered from work. I took Nanny a box of New Berry Fruits and a Christmas card from me and Mum. Nanny is going to Uncle Brian’s for Christmas. She asked me how school was and if I was courting. I didn’t say much, I’m still gutted about the Barry situation and clueless as to how to start a T-Reg situation. Nanny said I used to never stop talking and now I don’t say boo to a goose. She gave me some money for Christmas. She said she always used to get Dad to buy my present so she didn’t get it wrong.

I went to Ian’s after seeing Nanny. I feel all wrong today, like I’m a bad person and that’s why my life is going wrong. Ian told me I’m a triple fried egg, chili, chutney sandwich. He told me all my ingredients may be odd (cheers Mate!) but I’m great. He said he knew how to fix me. He made me a cup of hot chocolate and gave me a Spira to suck it up with. It’s a new invention of Gav’s and it is brilliant.

Wednesday 24th December

Ian and I went round to Jenni’s today. Her house looks lovely at Christmas. There was a holly wreath on the door and they have a real Christmas tree. Ian and I sniffed it. We both have a plastic one at home. When I got home Mum and I watched telly together for a bit (we don’t usually do this because she likes rubbish). We watched the Two Fat Ladies cooking programme Christmas special. They went to a posh school and cooked a Christmas pudding ice cream bombe which looked lush. Then Mum touched the stair carpet for luck before we watched the lottery results (but Mum hadn’t won).

Thursday 25th December

I got a bass guitar! It’s second hand but that’s okay because it’s probably been played by some amazing musicians. Mum cooked dinner and we took it round to Nanny Brooks and warmed it up in the microwave. She didn’t know it was Christmas day, despite the sheltered accommodation being decorated and having the telly on and watching Noel’s Christmas Presents. Mum acted all jolly and we pulled crackers and wore our paper hats. Mine kept sliding into my eyes while Mum and Nanny’s stayed perched on their permed hair.

Mum told me on the way home that she worries that her memory will go like Nanny’s has. Even though today is Christmas day it wasn’t all that wonderful. Mum usually pretends things are fine but today she actually said that the first Christmas without Dad is bound to be a difficult one.

We bumped into Josie on our way home and she invited us in for some mulled wine and mince pies. We went in and joined the party. It was all ladies but still fun. I liked the mulled wine but Mum made us go home after one drink. There was a woman there who looked a bit like Shot but older. I was telling her about heavy metal and she sounded interested.

Friday 26th December

My bass guitar is disappointing. Mum didn’t realise I also need an amp to go with it. I’m going to ask for one for my birthday or save up for one. Also everything I want to play hurts my fingers because it’s at the top end where the strings are thickest. I have one book of bass tab called the Bass Tab White Pages, it has loads of songs, but most of them are pop songs. I had a bash at Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight”.

Saturday 27th December

The Green Man was phenomenal last night. Everyone was out because everyone got money for Christmas. T-Reg was drunk. Now he’s working he’s got more money to spend and he’s investing some of it in lager he says. He bought me a Malibu and Diet Coke. Then he told me how he’d like to do it to me! No-one else was listening. Jenni was talking to Lex and Ian was talking to Bob and STF. T-Reg said he’d start off slow because he knows I haven’t done it before and he’d tell me to brace myself and then he’d do it to me until I liked it. I didn’t say anything, I just blushed. He also said he’d have a wank beforehand so that he didn’t jizz too quickly. He sounds so considerate Dear Diary, I think he’s a gentleman, what do you think?

Ian also got a guitar for Christmas and an amp. Jenni got some New Rock boots.

Sunday 28th December

Would a sober T-Reg like to do it to me? Will he remember what he said last night when I see him next? Also, you can brace yourself, but can you brace other people?

Today I mostly ate selection box. Unfortunately it had the Spice Girls on the front. It was a gift from Aunty Alice, along with the Spice Girls annual. Aunty Alice thinks all teenagers like the same things. Is there nowhere the Spice Girls haven’t colonised? I expect to see them when I lift the lid of the loo, or open my underwear drawer. They are abso-bloody-lutely all over the place. Apart from the Spice Girls taint it was a very good selection box. The inside contained a Wispa Gold, a Fuse, a Crunchie, a Curly Wurly, a Fudge, a Boost, a Caramel and Chocolate Buttons.

I still miss Barry. I’d even give him my Wispa Gold. However maybe it’s T-Reg who is meant to be my first proper serious love?

Monday 29th December

What do you call a difficult to hear Iron Maiden album? Mumbler of the beast!

What did Bruce Dickinson say to Steve Harris when they were trapped inside a fish? Run for the gills!

Who is the grumpiest member of Judas Priest? K. K. Frowning!

If I made Christmas crackers these are the jokes I’d put in them (and elephant jokes). I’d make the crackers black and silver and they would have mini bottles of Malibu in them and Alice Cooper badges.

Ian came round and changed the action on my bass so it hurts my fingers less. He said we could start a band if I want.

Tuesday 30th December

I went to the cinema with Jenni and Minty to see George Of The Jungle. It was basically only watchable because of beautiful Brendan Fraser in a loin cloth for the first half of the film.

Wednesday 31st December

I watched the final of World’s Strongest Man today. I’m going to do something to make my Dad proud of me. I don’t know what it is yet. I’m going to try to be kinder to Mum (apart from when she tries to tell me what to wear) and make her cups of tea more often and not leave plates and mugs in my room. I’m going to go and see Nanny Howard more often, even if she does say mad stuff about messages from Dad in heaven. I’m going to make 1998 the year I get some action. I’m going to listen to Zodiac Mindwarp’s Cleopatra Rising every morning. I’m going to stop being shy, I’m going to grab life by the balls.

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