Guest post: Best Friends Forever or Just for Now? By Alison Rattle

19 May

Today I’m delighted to welcome Alison Rattle to One More Page on the latest stop of her V for Violet blog tour. Alison grew up in Liverpool, and now lives in a medieval house in Somerset with her three children, her husband – a carpenter – an extremely naughty Jack Russell and a ghost cat.  She has worked as a fashion designer, a production controller, a painter and decorator, a barmaid, and now owns and runs a travelling vintage tea room. Alison has also published three previous YA books about young Victorian women with Hot Key Books – The Quietness, The Beloved and The Madness. Welcome Alison! 

Alison Rattle photoRemember your best friend from school? Did you promise each other to be friends for always? Is she still your best friend now? Or did you lose touch the minute you walked out of the school gates forever?

Female friendships can be among the most intense relationships of our lives, especially those formed during our school years. Friendships can be made accidentally when you are thrown together by circumstances. I remember Raj who I sat next to in biology classes. We had nothing in common outside of those classes, but for those few hours every week we were the best of mates. She was the clever, good girl of the class and I was the slightly naughty one. But our friendship developed to such a stage that I once persuaded her to let off a stink bomb in the classroom, as we knew for a fact that she would be the one student no teacher would suspect. The plan worked. But to this day I have no idea what Raj did with her life. I don’t even remember her surname. And she probably doesn’t remember the stink bomb.

And then there was Amanda. We moved up to big school at the same time and only lived around the corner from each other. We spent almost every night at each other’s houses and went through puberty together. We compared the sizes of our growing boobs, practised kissing our reflections in a mirror and raided our mum’s supplies of sanitary towels and tampons, fascinated by these objects of womanhood that we didn’t need yet. We started our periods at around the same time and I had never felt closer to anyone. But then Amanda moved schools, her parents choosing to send her to a private school in another town. I never saw her again.

Then along came Pamela. We had seen each other from a distance, across the playground. She was always hanging around with a group of cool girls. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to wear my tie in a tiny knot and roll my skirt up to above my knees. They all had boyfriends too. Older boys who would meet them after school on their motorbikes. They were popular and thrilling and I wanted to be part of their group. When we moved up a year I found myself sitting next to Pamela in our English class. We hit it off immediately. We spent lessons giggling and messing about and thinking of ways to wind up our teachers and skip school. Our cross country runs consisted of Pamela’s boyfriend meeting us around the corner in his car and driving us around the course. He would drop us off twenty minutes later and we would run back into school pretending to be out of breath and always scoring the best times. Outside of school, we rebelled in the only ways we could in our small town. We tried our first illicit drink of alcohol together, snuck into pubs, went to parties, shared clothes and lost our virginities in the same week. We shared all the terrible, dangerous, wonderful things about growing up.

At the heart of my latest book, V for Violet, there is an intense friendship between the main character Violet and her best friend Jackie. All the v for violetway through school they have done everything together. Violet has a photograph album of memories in her head with pictures of all the special times they have shared. From their very first day at school when Violet accidentally wets herself and Jackie gives her her own dry knickers, to the rainy day when they both carve their names under a park slide and promise to be friends forever, Violet experiences the same intense feelings that first love brings. She can’t imagine her life without Jackie. But then school ends and suddenly Jackie has a new life and new friends and Violet is tossed aside, her heart broken.

 I’m happy to say that Pamela never broke my heart. We still keep in touch after all these years and when we do manage to see each other (we live at opposite ends of the country) it’s like no time has passed. We don’t even notice each other’s wrinkles. But I know that’s a rare thing and that I’m very lucky to still have that connection to my youth. Most teenage friendships are, like first love, so intense and all-consuming that they burn themselves out.

Of course, I grew up in the time before Facebook and all those other social media sites, so when you lost touch with someone, you really lost touch. I wonder now if that all makes a difference? Because even if your friendships fade after leaving school you can still keep in touch to a degree by simply finding someone on Facebook. If only I could remember Raj’s surname. I would definitely look her up, if only to reassure myself that the stink bomb incident didn’t completely ruin her life!           

 V for Violet by Alison Rattle is out now in paperback and ebook formats published by Hot Key Books.

Follow Alison at www.alisonrattle.com or on Twitter:@alisonrattle

 

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