The Very Metal Diary Of Cleo Howard

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September 1997

Monday 1st September

Back to school. I changed at Ian’s as usual. While I was taking my top off (he always turns his back, Dear Diary because he is a) a gentleman, b) not interested since he’s had a hold of Ella’s more massive ones) I thought about what Ella had said about practising on boys in my year. I could never do this, it would be dishonest. I also thought about what Nanny Howard said about Princess Diana no longer being in an unhappy marriage. Mum and Dad are also no longer in an unhappy marriage but they don’t seem to be loads happier.

I walked past some thirteen year olds today and they were talking about forming a Spice Girls based gang and arguing about who would be who. I hate to see young minds being poisoned by rubbish music.

I am now in my GCSE exams school year which everyone keeps going on about. Your future job prospects…blah blah blah…your opportunity to make the best of yourselves (already doing that with a Wonderbra thanks)…your passport to a successful adult life…the door to a potentially glittering future and so on. T-Reg and Bob have left school. T-Reg is being a sparky (electrician) and Bob is in an office. I am now very unlikely to ever see T-Reg in shorts, unless he wins the lottery and begs me to accompany him on a luxury cruise to a tropical island where we’ll drink Malibu and cherryade out of coconuts and make love on the beach while the sun sets upon his perfect and gently bobbing bottom (sorry Dear Diary, I may have got a bit carried away there, today has been a rather dull day and my brain is trying to inject some glamour into your pages). STF, Darren, Ella, Lizzie and Shot are all in the sixth form. Lex and Mopey are in their last year of A level. We will now only see T-Reg and Bob in the Green Man.

We started Brave New World in English. Today feels a bit like the start of something new. Also, I have a new pencil case, with nothing written on it yet. Brave New World is about a future society. Some women are freemartins, meaning they aren’t fertile so don’t have to bother with contraception. This sounds good. Ian wanted to know why they use a card index for storing information when we have computers. Miss Wallace pointed out that there weren’t computers when the book was written. Jenni asked Miss Wallace questions about Bokanovsky’s Process and wanted to know how close we are to being able to do this, since Dolly the sheep was a success.

Tuesday 2nd September

In Humanities we answered the question is Heavy Metal a religion? Mrs Rogers is clearly trying to engage us by making the subject relevant. We humoured her, since she was trying her best. Jenni did most of the talking. She said yes, it is and no, it isn’t. It has the good aspects of a religion (shared identity, shared values, activities, particular clothes to wear) but not the bad aspects (intolerance and unquestioning acceptance of nonsense someone else told you to think).

Wednesday 3rd September

We’re doing woodwork in CDT. Who needs woodwork? All our furniture is from the second hand shop near Nanny Howard’s house and it’s full of stuff from floor to ceiling so no one needs to make more furniture. We aren’t making anything useful in woodwork. We have the choice between making an owl with slot in wings or a small CD rack (I already have a plastic one). I’m making an owl. I’ve noticed we never get to do the T (technology) in CDT. I was hoping to make a robot vacuum cleaner like Mum got excited about when it was on Tomorrow’s World. Mr Askew’s GCSE pep talk was a lot less peppy than all the previous ones teachers have given us this week. He said some of us will end up doing boring jobs for little money and so we’d better pull our fingers out.

I used to sometimes see T-Reg on the way to CDT and I still look for him but then I remember that he is now a working man.

Poem for T-Reg:

Tyrannosaurus Reg, you left,

Before my love was fully fledged

Now you’re a nine to five sparky

And I’m still here, darkly

It’s only on Satyrday* night

I might glimpse you

Irresistible, I should know better,

You’re a weekend treat like Viennetta.

Ian, Gav and I watched some WWE wrestling round Ian’s. The Undertaker is quite fit. Ian was telling me it looks like wrestlers have got small dicks but it’s just because the rest of them is so muscular.

*This is a clever play on words Dear Diary. The sort of people who laugh at the jokes in Shakespeare will get it.

Thursday 4th September

In Brave New World everyone belongs to everyone else and there aren’t families. People can have sex with who they like and no-one calls anyone a slag, in fact if you don’t sleep around you’re weird. This world would suit Ella and Mark Dobbs but not Lizzie. I haven’t decided if it would suit me yet, plus the clothes sound a bit awful in Brave New World.

I had some crisps made out of vegetables at Jenni’s. Not normal potato crisps, they were made out of parsnips, beetroot and carrot. As Nanny Howard would say “Well, that’s news to me”.

Mum came home from work with a bag of clothes that one of the women she worked with thought I might like. Her daughter is going to university and was having a sort out. There were dungarees, ugh! Some jeans that are too big for me right now, a sweatshirt with Minnie Mouse on (I am fifteen!), and a sundress with a sun, moon and star print that’s actually quite nice. I asked Mum if we’re officially poor. She said we’re not as well off as when Dad lived with us but we’re not too bad. I wanted to ask if she feels that her happiest years are ahead of her now that she’s no longer in an unhappy marriage but I think the answer is no.

Friday 5th September

We set fire to a peanut again in Biology. I swear I’ve done this three times now Dear Diary, I get it, heat is a kind of energy, and peanuts have got energy in them. We told the supply teacher we’d done it but they said we were going to do it again and then they also set fire to some lettuce (best thing to do with it, who likes lettuce?). Peanuts are going to think I’ve got something personal against them, but I haven’t, some of my best times have included peanuts (Christmas, pub, parties).

Saturday 6th September

Today is the funeral of Princess Diana. There is nothing much else on the telly. The Green Man was awful tonight. We got invaded by Carina Norman! She and Janine came in with two boys I don’t know. Carina said Hi and gave me the lightest and falsest hug I’ve ever had (I returned it with an equally false one). It might be best in future to just hiss at each other and try and look big. They left after about half an hour but somehow left a lingering taint.

Mopey Dick is drinking Pernod and black. You don’t pronounce the “d”, Dear Diary (in Pernod, I mean, you do pronounce it in Dick, otherwise he’d be called Mopey Ick).

Sunday 7th September

I had a lie in and watched my Jo Brand video. I had a big think about feminism. I am a partial feminist Dear Diary. Jenni’s Dad assumes I’m a feminist, which in itself is him imposing his views on women). I think that women should get paid as much as men for the same jobs, and should do the same amount of housework and should be as free to have sex with as many people as they want but I don’t mind wearing a bra and trying to look attractive to men because it’s fun and I want to be attractive to men. Men have loads to gain from feminism too, but they don’t realise it because they think it’s run by short haired women in trousers that want to stop you from seeing Barbara Windsor’s bosom (like in Carry On Girls).

Monday 8th September

Carina Norman asked me and Jenni if we enjoyed the pub on Saturday. Jenni didn’t reply. Carina said it was a freak show and she won’t be going again, she said she has got a better pub to go to where they have Robbie Williams and Peter Andre on the jukebox. This suits me fine. Having to put up with her Monday to Friday is more than enough to try the patience of a saint.

Mark Dobbs is a dickhead. He called Donna Harlow “Flora” because he said he’s heard she spreads easily. He’s such a hypocrite. He is the perviest boy in our year, why can’t Donna be equally active? This is supposed to be the nineties and we’ve got ladette culture, but in most people’s heads it’s still the fifties. In Brave New World Helmholtz Watson is said to have had six hundred and forty girls in less than four years. This makes him the Gene Simmons of Brave New World. Bernard Marx reminds me of Mopey Dick a bit.

Tuesday 9th September

I hate ladette culture. It’s far, far better to go quietly about your business doing what you want rather than shrieking about the place flashing your boobs with one hand and drinking a can of lager with the other. When this sort of thing is on the telly it makes Mum twitchy about letting me go out at the weekend.

Wednesday 10th September

Trent Reznor is looking smoking hot on the cover of Kerrang! this week. Jenni is going to need new pants after this one. Me and Ian saw a rainbow so we took it as a sign to listen to Gav’s Rainbow and Dio records. My fave tracks were “Dream Evil” and “All Night Long”.

Thursday 11th September

Janine Sackett had to read an embarrassing bit of Brave New World in English today. Bernard goes to an orgy (called a solidarity service). One of the characters in the book had an eyebrow like Barry’s which I thought was odd because all the other little problems seem to have been sorted out in the Brave New World. Surely if they can make clones and cure senility they can stop people having megabrows?

I had dinner at Jenni’s. It was boeuf bourguignon, which is just beef stew Dear Diary. If I say it fast and don’t think about it I can say it properly but if I look at it written down I struggle with it.

Friday 12th September

I have grown! Today me and Jenni went to C&A and I stood by the giraffe height chart in the children’s department, like I always do. She grew off the top of the chart last year. I am now five foot, three and a half inches tall. I’m taller than Danzig by half an inch. I am still a 32A bra though.

Me, Ian, Jenni and Matty went to the cinema tonight to see Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. It was pretty funny and I liked the clothes. Matty sat by Ian and tried to be normal. Actually Dear Diary, out of school, when he’s not trying to impress people by lighting his farts, he’s okay. Like me and Ian he’s read loads of Terry Pratchett books. He also reads the same Ravenloft vampire books that Jenni loves.

Saturday 13th September

Shot was wearing an X-Ray Spex T-Shirt tonight. She bought it in Camden. She was telling us what a great place it is to go shopping. She also went to Kensington Market which has a goth shop called The Black Rose with changing rooms decorated to look like coffins! Jenni and I really want to go.

Ella joked that she’d lost her virginity but she still had the box it came in. She was chatting up the barman all night.

Sunday 14th September

Hooray! It’s Dad day today. I told him all about Reading Festival and showed him my wristband. Nanny Howard said she had seen it on the news but she didn’t spot me. She pronounced Metallica as “Metal Licker!” Bless her, she tries to understand the stuff I like but always gets it sort of wrong.

Something amazing happened when Dad took me home. Mum invited him in for a cup of tea. We all sat in the living room together for the first time since the day he left. The conversation was mostly about me but I suppose this is a safe topic.

Monday 15th September

In Brave New World everyone is happy and if they aren’t they take a drug called soma. The character Lenina says “Everybody’s happy nowadays” which made me think of the Buzzcocks song and she says “Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today”. I think she’d be good to go to the pub with but I bet she’d sleep with T-Reg.

Mark Dobbs read out a letter from Penthouse magazine. A woman had dipped her boyfriend’s youknowwhat in strawberry yogurt and basically used it as a spoon. I prefer black cherry yogurt and sometimes I like to dip a custard cream in my yogurt. There are loads of new flavours of Müller yogurt all the time but so far thankfully not penis flavour.

Tuesday 16th September

Everyone at school is saying “Groovy, Baby!” because of Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. When Weebles announced that we had no German homework he was met with a small chorus of “Groovy, Baby!” He looked really puzzled. I bet he only watches boring films with subtitles.

I’ve gone off yogurt. Jenni said you shouldn’t be putting penises in it because of the natural bacteria. I don’t want to eat bacteria, even if it is cherry flavoured. Also, this is information I just don’t need Dear Diary, it’s very unlikely to come up in a GCSE exam.

Wednesday 17th September

Ian and I went to see Betty after school. She gave us lemonade and a Dairy Crunch bar each. She asked us how school was going. Ian told her we are studying for our GCSEs now. Gav did really well in his and Betty has promised him some money if he does well but told him it’s not the be all and end all and that different people are good at different things and we can’t all be Clive Sinclair. She left school at fourteen. She worked in a factory until she got married and said it was hard work but they had a giggle. They used to go to the Majestic Ball Room when they got paid on a Friday.

Thursday 18th September

The Prodigy are in trouble because of “Smack My Bitch Up”, apparently it encourages violence towards women. I bet Cannibal Corpse are going to keep a low profile, they’ve written way worse stuff than this. I don’t think you’re meant to take this stuff seriously, it’s like horror films and Alice Cooper’s stage show, it’s just entertainment.

Friday 19th September

Carina dared Janine to push Charmaine down the stairs today. Janine gave her a few little shoves then Charmaine refused to walk in front of Janine or Carina. Carina looked annoyed. She is such a ball of spite Dear Diary. Betty tells me that “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”, but clearly no one has ever told Carina this. If there was a GCSE in being the spawn of Satan she’d get an A* because she’s already done all the coursework.

Saturday 20th September

Today is the worst day of my life. When I got in from the pub Mum was still up and she told me that Dad had died. Uncle Brian went round to see him this morning and he didn’t answer so he got worried. He got the spare key from the next door neighbour and found Dad in bed, not breathing, not alive. He had been dead for hours and he couldn’t be resuscitated.

Sunday 21st September

I don’t even really remember writing yesterday’s entry. I don’t think I can write anything much today because nothing makes sense or seems important right now. Mum told me that Dad probably died of a massive heart attack (like Grandad Howard did) and would have died in his sleep and not been in pain. She told me this is a thought we have to take comfort from. She asked me if I wanted to see Dad’s body. Right now it’s in the chapel of rest. I said no.

Monday 22nd September

Mum said I didn’t have to go to school today so I didn’t. Ian and Jenni came round after school. We don’t usually hang out at my house unless Mum is at work but she let them come round and let us go up to my room for a bit.

Tuesday 23rd September

Gutted doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel. Uncle Brian is arranging the funeral. I’m mostly staying upstairs in my room.

Wednesday 24th September

Mum suggested I go out to get some fresh air. I went to WH Smiths and got Kerrang! Then I came straight home. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. This week there’s a poster of Max Cavalera and some stuff about Hole who I sort of like. Courtney Love seems sort of mad. Maybe she’s gone off her head since Kurt died.

Thursday 25th September

Dad’s funeral is arranged for Tuesday. His cause of death is confirmed as a heart attack.

Friday 26th September

I cleaned Mustaine out. As usual he only swam in a tiny area of the bath tub. Mum let me order Dominos pizza for tea.

Saturday 27th September

I went to the pub with Jenni and Ian. I didn’t tell anyone about Dad. Some idiot put loads of Limp Bizkit on the jukebox. I don’t want to listen to “music” made by someone who doesn’t know how to operate a hat. Also Limp Bizkit is the grimmest name ever, it’s a really lazy attempt to be shocking, with one percent of the effort that Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson puts in.

Sunday 28th September

It’s a bit like life has stopped. Mum says we need to get the funeral over but I don’t see how this will change anything. I read some Brave New World because I don’t want to get too behind and also it’s a good book. In Brave New World they don’t get sad about death: “the social body persists although the component cells may change”. The trouble is, I’m not in Brave New World and I loved the component cells of my Dad. I could do with some soma. It stops you thinking about the past or the future.

Monday 29th September

Tuesday 30th September

Dad’s Funeral.

Mum woke me up at eight and told me to get dressed and have breakfast. She told me I could wear whatever I wanted. I sort of knew not to push it and wore my Slayer T-shirt under a black jumper with a long black skirt. I’m a bit worried Mum is going mad. She told me she dreamt of Dad last night. When we got to the crematorium Mum and Nanny Howard hugged each other for a long time. They haven’t actually spoken for about a year and a half, although they have exchanged magazines.

I don’t know what to say to anyone and no one knows what to say to me. Ian and his Dad came to the funeral, and Jenni and her parents. It all felt real but not real, like I was watching a film, and I wanted to talk to people but I couldn’t talk to them. The worst bit of the whole day, the bit I will never, ever forget, even if I live to be one hundred, was when the coffin disappeared behind the curtains. Mum was crying on one side of me and Nanny Howard was crying on the other side of me.

Uncle Brian read a poem:

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep - Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle Autumn rain

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die

Dad isn’t having a gravestone. Ages ago, when his Dad (my Grandad Howard) died, he told Uncle Brian that when he dies he just wants to be scattered in the rose garden at the crematorium. It’s hard for atheists to decide stuff like this.

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