I discovered Louise Rennison in secondary school. And I firmly believe that her writing, at least for a part, shaped me as not a writer but as a human.
There are some books and authors that helped me on my way to becoming the short-arse smuttist I am right now. But when I found Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (translated edition, of course) and buried myself between its pages, it was like I’d found a bit of me that was being held down. A bit that, due to my very unusual school situation, hadn’t actually come to fruition. It was literary teenage golddust, in the form of a girl called Georgia Nicholson.
If you’re not familiar with the book (Young adult, humour, epistolary, part one in a 10-book series), I present the blurb.
Angus: My mixed-breed cat, half domestic tabby, half Scottish wildcat. The size of a small Labrador, only mad.
Thongs: Stupid underwear. What’s the point of them, anyway? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell
.Full-Frontal Snogging: Kissing with all the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues … everything.
Her dad’s got the mentality of a Teletubby (only not so developed). Her cat, Angus, is trying to eat the poodle next door. And her best friend thinks she looks like an alien — just because she accidentally shaved off her eyebrows. Ergghhhlack. Still, add a little boy-stalking, teacher-baiting, and full-frontal snogging with a Sex God, and Georgia’s year just might turn out to be the most fabbitty fab fab ever!
Georgia has a mother, a father, a three-year-old sister named Libby and a really fucking strange cat named Angus. She’s got a friend named Jas, along with the other members of the Ace Gang. And she’s got the mother of all teenage crushes on the aforementioned Sex God, the older Robbie. Georgia’s got a good heart, despite being a bit self-obsessed and difficult. She challenges and talks back to authority figures. She swears. She’s inappropriate. She tries to impress Robbie by bleaching a strip of her hair blonde, only for it to come off in her hand because fuck bleaching hair is what that is.
Georgia is a genuine teenager, blossoming into her sexuality in her own awkward, funny, sometimes painfully wrenching way. And I totally, utterly fell in love with her.
I steamrollered my way through the books (although I’m sad to say I didn’t finish the series), lapping up every word. I laughed. I cried. I rooted for Georgia and Robbie and got sad when Robbie fucked off to New Zealand. And then I was happy again because the Luuuurve God (an Italian guy called Massimo) entered the scene. And of course, the ever present Dave the Laugh because every teenage girl needs that friend where it could always be something more than just friends.
Basically, Georgia was (and remains) my hero. In between these pages, she showed me things I wasn’t experiencing. She showed me things I was experiencing, proving that I wasn’t alone. And she made me laugh like a drain while doing it. Georgia made me feel okay about those awkward moments and weird bits that come with being a teenager.
So when the news broke the other day that Louise Rennison had passed away, I felt… like shit, really. This was the woman who’d given my teenage self something to hold on to. Words to cherish when life got crap. The knowledge that it’s okay to come into your sexuality and your adulthood with massive bumps and awkward silences. And now she was gone.
I spent a few days mulling over this post, wondering whether it would fit on this blog at all. But I came to the conclusion that it really fucking does. Yeah, this is a blog about sex and relationships. It’s also a blog about past aches, about being 17 and yearning for love, about wanting to kiss and wanting a Robbie of my own.
Thank you, Louise. Thank you for Georgia, thank you for your words, thank you for writing with the kind of honesty that inspires me at 25 as much as it did at 17. I shall be wearing my best boy-entrancers in your honour.
Incidentally, I started this post a few days ago and, due to work, only got to finish it today. Which is great because I can tell you about how I was on my way back from an event at work last night. I stumbled through the tube carriage, grateful to find a seat – a seat opposite a woman who couldn’t have been that much older than I was, buried deep into a book and breaking out into giggles on more than one occasion.
That book? Dancing in my Nuddy Pants: More Confessions of Georgia Nicholson.
As it’s World Book Day today – if you’re looking for a cracking read, whether you’re 17 or in your 30s, get the Georgia Nicholson books from The Book Depository. Free shipping and all. I promise you won’t regret it.
Also – Patreon pimpage time! If you like my writing, please do consider becoming my Patron on there.