(My own copy)
Dear me at 15,
1. The girl you've been obsessing over is a trollop - move on;
2. Pull your trousers up;
3. Don't shave your hair to a number 1, it makes you look ill;
4. Trade your PC in for a mac;
5. Read High Fidelity, Norwegian Wood and On the Road;
6. There is music outside of guitars;
7. Your mum's alright really;
8. Don't worry, you are right, the world is crazy;
9. Relax, women are basically friendly;
10. Pay attention, you only get one shot at this;
11. Read some books that aren't Football, Tennis or Rugby related;
12. Grow Your hair -it will make you look older;
13. Don’t drink from the wine bottle that is handed to you at the beach party - its piss;
14. No matter what you do, think or wear, some people will dislike you, and some will be mean - it's honestly no reflection on your character that you're don't delight everyone. When it comes to friendship, quality always trumps quantity;
15. Stop kissing everyone. Stop smoking so much weed. And don't let that Emily girl convince you that smoking fags is cool, it isn't;
16. Don't listen to those ridiculous people you go to school with. They're mostly fools who are now in dead end jobs. They aren't cool;
17. you think that you are a Punk now, well here's come surprising news, you are a total hippie at heart. Didn't expect that did you!
18. You will be happier in your late 30's and early 40's than you will ever be in your teens and 20s.
19. Try not to sleep with too many unsuitable women;
20. Refuse to make compromises when your dignity is at stake, never accept the political, social and economic status quo, learn to be tough, do unto others as you would have them do unto you (the Golden Rule - helps in life whatever your religion/no religion).
You'll be alright,
(Bought in 2010 2010)
I think that a lot of light seems to go out of people as they get older, and they mostly become much less emotionally interesting. I would not say this is because they pass from a state of unhappiness to one of happiness, but rather, through compromise, large areas of their emotional selves get shut down. Making do, fitting in and getting by, ceasing to enquire, enjoying the soft pleasures of conformity, an indifference to self-knowledge, not holding out for anything, settling for the comfortable cell - this is what brings about deadness of soul, in my view. Happiness, on the other hand, is, for me, a state of brilliance, nothing dull about it.
NB: I love that Stephen's heavy-souled and unwavering honesty through this book earns him such a great amount of respect from me to allow him to get away with that generalising and almost-righteous pitying of the 'normal'. Instead of being offended by it - and I'm sort of annoyed at myself for even thinking that I could be - I'm in awe of the pure guts he had to say it - 'poor normal lambs' - and the frankness with which it is said. Beautifully table-turning. Perhaps I am ignorant even in my tolerance, without the viewpoint of homosexuality and the confusion and consequent soul-searching that come with it.