Bryony Gordon's 'Wild Days' In Chiswick
Writer recalls her teenage years growing up in W4
Ask successful columnist turned author Bryony Gordon about memories of growing up in Chiswick and her first reaction is to recall episodes of "vomiting on my shoes" near the tube station.
Her book The Wrong Knickers: A Decade of Chaos tells of her chaotic years of drink, drugs, parties, being broke and a succession of terrible relationships. The title derives from an incident when, after a drunken one-night stand, the man she slept with, throws someone else's underwear in her direction as she gets dressed to leave.
The former wild child, now grown up, married and mother to an eighteen-month old daughter , has no major qualms about coming back to her old stomping ground to talk about her misspent youth, the relationships, the drugs, the alcohol in detail even though she says the book is "a bit racy".
(Bryony 's event at the Chiswick Book Festival will be at St Michael & All Angels ( upstairs room) Sunday, Sept 14th at 2.45pm) .
Bryony grew up in Heathfield Terrace, in a "pale green" coloured house, along with her parents with two siblings. She went to Kew College primary school and later attended Queens Gate secondary school in south Kensington.
"When I was a teenager in Chiswick I thought it was a suburban backwater- I couldn't wait to get out of it. But I went back recently to have lunch with an old friend on Turnham Green Terrace and I thought 'wow, it's lovely'. I walked by the place where people park their bikes opposite the tube station and I remember vomiting over my shoes in that very spot.
"Oh, and I was also very shocked to see that Mc Donalds had closed."
Other childhood memories include icecreams and diet Coke in Fouberts, watching football in the Packhorse and Talbot, being taken around the Old Cinema by her dad ("it felt like a maze of magic" ), and spending summers at the then Riverside club, either at tennis lessons or waiting for her father to finish at the gym.
Bryony's parents (her mother is local writer Jane Gordon) divorced and she left Chiswick aged 21. She now lives south of the river in Clapham. But she still has friends locally, includig journalist/broadcaster Beverley Turner and she recently interviewed local resident Cath Kidson.
She has now got over an initial embarrassment of standing on stage at book festivals describing quite intimate details of her sexual escapades.
"I went to the Hay Festival and I walked out on stage gripped with fear as I looked out at 700 or so Telegraph readers and about to read a chapter which detailed how a man snorted coke on my bosum. I was very relieved when they started hooting with laughter".
She admits the reaction might be "less accepting" if she hadn't written a book with a happy ending, or as she likes to describe it, a "happy beginning." In the past two years Bryony has got married, had a baby and has written her book as well as continuing her witty confessional column in The Telegraph. The column is described as her take on the irritations and occasional epiphanies of life, and the subject matter range from subjects as diverse from her thoughts on having another baby, to why she prefers to stay home and watch television.
"Everyone has a past and a lot of people like the book because it reminds them that they've all done stuff when they were younger. On the other hand I get a lot of mothers who come up and say that they thought their daughter was completely hopeless and they're relieed that I've come through it and they go away thinking well, maybe their daughter is normal. "
Bryony rejects criticism that she has 'betrayed feminists because her book has a happy ending of marriage and motherhood. She became pregnant she and her husband were together less than a year.
She says she is "sick" of women feeling they have to be "strong" and hide the fact that they want a relationship and children.
"I think we've swung too far in the other direction in our rush to make women feel they have to smash this glass ceiling. I think we should be more honest about what we want- and also I think we don't give enough credit to men, as if they'll run away screaming if we say we want marriage and babies"
Now that she's become part of the Box Set generation, happier curled up on the couch than clubbing, Bryony says that she "craves to be boring".
"I've moved on but I'm not a completely different person. I do still like a drink".
2.45pm: Bryony Gordon: The Wrong Knickers: A Decade of Chaos
Bryony Gordon Interviewed by writer and reviewer Cathy Rentzenbrink. St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall upstairs
Sunday Day Pass
September 12, 2014