Tell Your Own Story

“It’s happy hour again…” by Yvonne Reddin

Article by Yvonne Reddin ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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In Secondary School, I came out of my shell. In first year, I would have been about 12, I was a nervous wreck starting “big” school. I had always hung around with my neighbors, we all did on the road we lived on. It was a great place to grow up. We all went to different secondary schools so it was daunting for me, starting school on my own. It took me I would say the year to settle in to this change in schools. I remember I used to cycle to school. My bike was black with normal handlebars and a bell. I wanted a racer style bike. So, my mam got racer handlebars put on the bike. At the time, I loved it but looking back it must have looked ridiculous on the frame of the bike I had. I thought I was so cool riding it, having to lean over the curved bars with no bell. The more confident I got and the friends I met in first year, the bike was put in the shed and replaced with walking to school.

My school friends were a big part of my life then. In second year, around the age of 13-14 is when I became close to two girls in particular. We had nick names for each other, mine was Veve Brolene because I was always putting brolene eye drops in my eyes, Amanda was Miranda Mary Pyker because she wanted a posher name and Jennie was Jennie Wennie Wuzzle because her hair was like one of The Jackson Five. Wet or dry it bounced back up like a sponge.

We were like three peas in a pod in school. They made my life in school bearable and fun. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy school, I did, once there were boys and my two best friends. We went through boys like water. Swapping and changing as if they were toys. Back then if you went out with a boy for more than a month it was considered serious.
Boys took all my academic concentration away and I could have done much better in school but wasn’t bothered. We thought we were so cool and started smoking in second year, Miranda always had cigarettes as her mam smoked like a chimney. Her mam’s cigarettes were so long so we all got drags on it. I hated been last on the cigarette as it was too strong at the end and burned your fingers. We felt like the Pink ladies and thought we were so cool. We would meet up in the toilets in certain areas of school and smoke there. You could barely see us all in the toilet with the cloud of smoke. We were never caught, which made us even more invincible. We swapped clothes, homework, lunches and boyfriends. It was great.

As I lived the farthest away I would go to one or the others house for lunch. My friend Jennie had a soda stream maker and I would try all the different flavors. It was a real treat having a toasted cheese sandwich and a fizzy green, red or orange drink for your lunch. And then I would burp my way through the rest of the day in class from all the gas in my drink.

We walked to school, in our calf length coats, like long Crombie’s, our hairs were styled to perfection, the long fringes and shaved sides. Our uniforms were hidden by our coats, just our knee length socks on show swooshing out from under our coats. Shoes were important to us and we would buy our shoes in Dublin in a shop called Simon Hart. They had the coolest shoes. My favourite were black patent leather pointed flat shoes or black platformed Teddy boy ones. We definitely had our own look.

My style changed from one year to the next. As I was working part time in a hair salon from aged 14, I was the guinea pig for new colors and cuts. I loved being a guinea pig as I was up for trying anything.

I remember in third year in secondary school myself and another girl in my year had the same haircut, it was shaved on one side and a bob on the other. We walked around with our heads tilted to one side, looking like something was wrong with us as the side with the longer hair kind of covered half our faces. I much preferred my hair all shaved off with a long fringe and bleached to death so it was snow white. My scalp would be pink most times after over bleaching it. I often had milk poured over my poor scalp after bleaching it as it cooled it down and prevented it from blistering. I definitely suffered for my style. I was always in trouble over my hair in school. My interest in fashion and hair thrived in school.

Miranda’s mam was always away so she always had a free house. All the boys would wait at the green machine at the back of her house until the specified time. The green machine was a big electric type structure where we used to meet up, smoke, kiss our boyfriends at and laze around on the grass beside it. The green machine was a big part of our adolescent life. Everything happened there. When we had the free house in Miranda’s, all hell would break lose with naggins of vodka and flagons of cider flowing. We danced our heads off to The Blades, The Housemartins, Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Life couldn’t be better. My parents were strict growing up which is why I rebelled so much. My experiences with alcohol began around this time, maybe 13/14 years of age. Not that I liked the taste of it much, it was more the feeling it gave me.

The feeling you could do anything as you were now grown up. And then after skulling back that nagan of vodka or cider, an hour later it would slowly resurface all over my new Simon Hart pointed patent leather shoes. My hair was short at the time so there were no worries about getting vomit residue in my hair, just my shoes.

My Mam and Dad socialized a lot then too so I had a free house on a Thursday night and sometimes a Sunday night to. My green machine waiting area was little side lane four doors down. Everyone would wait in the lane until the car was gone. I never ever thought about what if they came home early. One time they did. I never seen so many bare bums from ripped jeans trying to get over the back wall. I was only caught that time as after that experience I used to keep sketch through the blinds for the car freewheeling down the road. There was no such thing as been stopped by police for drink driving then. The car nearly knew where to go itself, like the car in Knight Rider.

My friend Jennie Wennie Wuzzle was like part of our family. We had the same ridiculous sense of humour and would laugh for hours in my room or on the phone. We would just look at each other and be rolling around laughing. She had the most infectious laugh, her whole body would shake and occasionally she couldn’t even breathe, or sometimes she would sound like a wild animal. Mam was always looking at us, shaking her head and saying “There’s a want in you two”. We hadn’t a clue what that meant but we liked it.

We were always looking for something to laugh about and we would wind mam up out of divilment. It always worked and Jennie was accustomed to the wooden spoon a few times in our house to. We were as close as friends could be. When we finished school, we all went our separate ways as we were all doing different things. I began my hairdressing apprenticeship which would take four years to finish and Jennie and Amanda went off travelling. I envied them as I was stuck in a bubble of hairspray, colour and work. My dreams had to wait and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I just went along with my mam’s advice, to get my apprenticeship.

I had a few other close friends and kept in touch with them all. Another close friend went to England quite young and never came back to live in Dublin. We have always written to each other and still catch up were we left off when she comes to back to visit.

(c) Yvonne Reddin

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I am a 46-year-old mother of three children with a passion for telling stories. I began my journey through my own life and experiences. I was always scribbling notes down, writing about my travels and I kept a diary for nine years when I lived in Australia. I always loved a newspaper and wondered how it was all put together so I went to college as a mature student aged 35 and explored journalism. I graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in Aungier Street Dublin with a B.A Honors graduate degree in 2012. Two months later, I was pregnant with twins. I write about my experiences of being a lone parent, my influence of my mother who died from Alzheimer’s three years ago and adoption. I have had articles published on my mother’s illness in the Independent. Am currently writing a memoir and a children’s book.