This weekend I laughed more than I have laughed in a very long time. My mother was tidying out drawers and found my Std 2 Guidance schoolbook. It’s a slim A5 drawing book, and it makes for fascinating reading. For me, at least, because it’s a telescope through 26 years to an earlier version of myself, and the child that inhabits me still.

It was my list of dislikes that had me laughing until my stomach hurt.

“Poaching,” I wrote, in all seriousness, “cruelty to animals, cigarettes, Alchaholic drinks, bullys, pollution, spinage, pop music, modern hair styles, disco dancing.”

Good grief, I sound like a prepubescent Betsy Verwoerd. Or at least a prepubescent Betsy Verwoerd-meets-green activist. My parents were incredibly conservative and as an eldest child I took on their prejudices. Soon this would have a deleterious impact on my ability to relate to others my age, and lead to years of miserable nerdiness.

Things change. I certainly don’t object to Alchaholic drinks now, and my car thumps with whatever anthem resonates most with me at the time (current favourite: Stuck in a Moment by U2). I’ve been known to get down on the dancefloor at Movida, though I find clubs generally kak and boring, full of Kim Kardashian lookalikes in pussy pelmets. (An ex-boyfriend, the Jedi Master, calls them crack whores. He has created a hashtag on Twitter for the women he encounters in clubs north of the shooter curtain: #crackwhorejozi).

The objection to “modern hair styles” had me flummoxed until I remembered that this was written in 1984. I still hate poaching, cruelty to animals, cigarettes and bullies, though if I were to compile this list today I would add People who Fail to Indicate to Turn Left at Traffic Circles.

In contrast, my list of likes includes:
“Animals, TV, music, ballet, Fruit, Farms, Conservation, Horses, Victorian dresses, books, drawing, Nature, money (sometimes), telling stories (to self), mud.”

(Mud?? What on earth was I doing back then?)

The bits about animals and Nature and conservation haven’t changed, though I don’t watch much TV and I’m much (much) fonder of money than I was then. I have outgrown my love of Victorian dresses and am now indifferent to their frilliness. Watching Black Swan is about as much attention as I pay to ballet these days, and now the stories I tell myself I share with others too. As for mud, though I encountered it on my 4×4 instruction course at Land Rover Experience last month, I can’t say I feel any kind of special emotional connection to the stuff beyond a desire to avoid any contact with it.

I still like books, of course, and my obsession with drawing has evolved into painting with lipstick. I love horses as much as ever and the fact that I still can’t ride properly sits like a stone in my solar plexus, a reminder of all that I have left undone.

Isn’t it funny how we change? And the ways in which we don’t? Oh, for the guileless ambitions of the young. It was a more innocent era. I know that is something we always say when we happen upon a memento from our distant past, but this is true. I wonder what a 9 year old would write today. Probably Likes: Justin Bieber.


  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.


Sarah Britten

During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.

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