Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

My Teenage Diaries (with radio link)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Update: for the next week, you can listen to My Teenage Diaries here.

So when Radio 4 invited me to read my teenage diaries aloud to Rufus Hound, I accepted immediately. I like Rufus Hound a lot. I love Radio 4 more than anything. Well, not anything. But more than a lot of things. Certainly more than I like being given UNNECESSARY RECEIPTS, ooh that’s really annoying me at the moment, people giving you receipts for a pint of milk or a bar of chocolate, as if you’re going to get charged with shoplifting between the till and the door, total waste of paper, then you wander round looking for a rubbish bin and there never is one, so you cram it into your bag or your pocket and soon enough there’s a great COMPOSTING MULCH of little receipts, and sometimes of course you can drop the receipt on the counter but they’ve got wise to that and love to press it into your hand amongst all the change so you can’t filter it out with ease, don’t they understand that trees are a precious resource and space even more so, stop with the bloody unnecessary receipts already.

  Anyway, I like Radio 4 more than that.

  Besides, I was interested to look back at my old teenage diaries. I’ve never read them, only written in them a long time ago. And I had an interesting life as a teenager - or, at least, an unusual one. I sold short stories to magazines under false names when I was 13, following my heroine Jo March from Little Women. Then I won a competition to write a column for the Daily Telegraph and earned a huge amount of money, like Joan Collins (£75 a week). Then I published a book. Then I went on TV and met all the big names - William Hague, Jason Donovan…

  Actually it was just those two, William Hague and Jason Donovan. But it’s unusual for a teenager, no? I was a total failure at all the proper teenage stuff, like being cool or dressing right, or taking drugs or having sex. Nevertheless, I had this curious other life as a sort of professional writer. I was looking forward to going back into the diaries and seeing what I had to say about moving in this grown-up world, meeting people like that, earning a living early.

  Turns out I had nothing to say about it at all. Not a word. Week after week, month after month, year after year, there was nothing in my diary but long rambling anecdotes about boys I fancied. Great complicated disquisitions on how this or that one might have maybe possibly looked at me on the bus, but it’s hard to be sure because the conductor was right behind me. That kind of thing. I was pleasantly surprised, looking back at the diaries, to find that some boys had actually been interested in me. That wasn’t my memory at all. I can only remember being completely overlooked and feeling hideous. In the diaries, though, I appear to have been asked out on some dates - though they always go wrong. I never end up snogging anyone. Maybe that’s why I blanked them out in my mind; the sheer embarrassment. Still, at least they asked me out.

  Less pleasant a surprise was how completely obsessed I seem to have been about the whole thing. I remembered myself as a rather classy teenager, above all that trivial nonsense, thinking only about reading and writing and having a job. Apparently not. Those things held no interest at all. I thought of nothing but boys. I was as trivial as they come. I made the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 look like Nietzsche.

  Nevertheless, I’d said yes so I had to turn up and read out this waffle to Rufus Hound and (unsuspected by me when I accepted the invitation) a live audience. The results of that adventure will be on Radio 4 tonight (Tuesday) at 6.30pm. I haven’t heard the finished programme so I have no idea how embarrassing it’ll be. I’m hoping not that bad, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing a blog about it and pointing people towards the car crash. But it could be toe-curling. If you want a sense of my trepidation, have a look at the serendipitous little narrative that comes out if you read the 18.30 listing followed by the 19.00 listing on the Radio 4 website.

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adolfo vaeza at 2:24 am on December 21st, 2010

Hola Victoria,

I´m your friend of South America, remember me ?
I ´m thinking to go to the HR in PCA,
I wonder if you ´re going.

Merry Christmas and best of happiness for 2011


Alan Glaum at 11:11 am on December 21st, 2010

I did wonder why anyone would agree to do the show.
I had thought the difference between you and most guests would be the well-known parent and a different idea of the world.
But for anyone who has not heard it, listen to Sheila Hancock’s tales of her first kiss on last week’s show - or Pick of the Week

jim carr at 12:14 pm on December 21st, 2010

victoria, the obsession with boys in your teenage diaries is a given, I expect you breathed and walked as well. the short story selling, and writing a column for the DT aged 14, that’s the meat. that teenage caterpillar you disdain is now the butterfly, the successful professional writer. you have scrubbed up beautifully, and it’s now the boys on the bus who look at you!  you should love yourself a lot more than you appear to do. i havent heard the broadcast yet, but im expecting lots of laughs.

Charlie at 1:39 pm on December 21st, 2010

I’m only 20 and my diary from my mid-teens is well horrifically embarrassing, at the time I considered myself somewhat of a tortured soul. Although how pretentious I was is always a great source of amusement.

kimoth at 2:19 pm on December 21st, 2010

I instinctively went to click the ‘like’ button under the 7pm listing.  It wasn’t there.  Argh.

Karl at 2:55 pm on December 21st, 2010

Trees have been planted 2 for 1 by the paper industry since at least the mid-1980s. So says my granddad who spent his working life in a paper mill (and my uncle who still works in one). But…yes, unnecessary receipts are a nuisance, aren’t they?

Funny how we never realize how big some things are when we’re young, eh? It’s just ‘Yeah, well, it’s something to do’ and we take a lot for granted, all the while thinking about the ‘Important Stuff’ if boys (or in my case, girls) fancy you or not - and the answer’s usually yes, because at that age everyone’s basically a walking bag of hormones. I’d have fancied a lamp-post if you put lipstick on it, I swear.
Anyway, in 1989, when I turned 16, all the girls looked cool, and still do in memory. When I see photos, though…

Dave James at 4:35 pm on December 21st, 2010

Hehe, the Radio 4 listing made me chuckle. I would imagine they plan these sorts of things in advance though.
Looking forward to listening to it, I’m sure there’s no need to be worried.

On a separate note, the security word I have to enter to submit this comment is “growth”. Which is oddly unnerving.

fadrus at 4:58 pm on December 21st, 2010

The receipt thing is interesting because it’s a symptom of a wider issue.

If you don’t give a receipt to a customer who buys a pint of milk what about a pint of milk, a paper and a DVD? The point is that sometimes receipts are useful and sometimes not and you either need to allow your employee to distinguish between the two or you have a rule which is “give receipts to everybody for everything”. And the bigger the organization the less inclined they are to ever let anyone decide for themselves. There has to be a policy to ensure uniformity because if an individual at the bottom of the ladder strays from the policy made at the top of the ladder something BAD could happen. So we end up employing people to robotically follow rules rather than bring their mind and personality to their job.

jim carr at 6:18 pm on December 21st, 2010

if the listing for “teenage diaries” had been followed by the listing for “THE PHONE” at 2300, you would have to explain “a series of late night thrillers” would this be poker related,or a candid account of your lovelife?

Bev at 6:53 pm on December 21st, 2010

Really liked the show and your stories. You made me turn around and stare at the radio more than a dozen times - an all time Radio 4 record!

Nicola at 7:01 pm on December 21st, 2010

It was highly entertaining, even the cringeworthy bits as lets face it, we were all like it albeit writing for the Telegraph and being a judge for a national competition. Alan Coren always made me laugh, so great to see his daughter has that skill.

Ralph Pink at 7:05 pm on December 21st, 2010

I was literally just listening to your guest talk on Radio 4 about your articles in the daily telegraph…
All I can say is it made me smile, I remember how awfully embarrassing life was when I was a teenager, can’t believe I actually survived!!
Anyway, wanted to say thank you for sharing.

Trying to do the same

dean ware at 7:14 pm on December 21st, 2010

Just heard this. Have spent the day laying in bed and this made it all worth it. Was funny and interesting. And I liked the advice she gave to her teenage self. Helped me and I’m in my 30’s!
Loved it.

Immerz at 7:32 pm on December 21st, 2010

‘I made the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 look like Nietzsche’ - brilliant haha!

Lol yep I too try and run off before they give me a receipt but like you say they don’t let you get off the hook that easily grrr!

As for your diary thingy on Radio 4, very amusing. I remember keeping a diary for about a week when I was a teen and ‘gave up as it was too much effort’ (little did I know back then this kinda behaviour would end up being my mantra in life!). Good choice of ‘Everyday’ by Don Mclean too :)

K Have a good Xmas VC x

Mhairi Haylock at 8:08 pm on December 21st, 2010

I have just listened to you on R4. Thoroughly enjoyed it and identified with your tales of teenage thoughts. I was also rather geeky, often felt somewhat detached from doing the things ‘normal’ teenagers did and so full of angst much like your diaries portrayed. Listening produced wry smiles interjected with laughter. If I could tell the 13 year old me anything, I guess it would be that adulthood seems to fit better and although some of the self doubts remain, they somehow seem less important. It’s also reassuring to know that the torments I inflicted on myself whilst growing up were experienced by others and in fact more than likely by most!  PS. I am also a proud owner of ‘The Return of Bruno’ album LOL

cathy mathews at 11:03 pm on December 21st, 2010

Rather intriguing to hear you talk about your life and friends aged 13, when i kinda was one of your friends aged 13. Sort of. But i did go on holiday with you, giles, his good looking friend and mary. and terrifyingly i think we all wore swimming costumes in front of the boys. you may have hoped that none of us were listening. really enjoyed hearing your perspective and laughed out loud more than i usually do listening to radio 4.

IW66 at 11:56 pm on December 21st, 2010

They should just link your debit/credit card to your e-mail address.

Then, when you buy something, the receipt gets e-mailed to you and you can choose to print it out if you need it and it makes the whole tracking of your spending a bit easier as well because you can search, file and analyze to your retentive heart’s content.

Bit of a bugger if you only pay in cash though.

Back on topic, I’ve had to read my teenage diaries out in public too and its a bit nerve wracking.

Mind you, I had the entire public gallery on the edge of their seats by the end.

Not to mention my fifth form games teacher.

Victoria Coren at 12:00 am on December 22nd, 2010

Hello Cathy! I haven’t listened to the programme yet so I’d better make sure I didn’t say anything libellous… How are you? Actually wait, that would be a weird conversation to have on a blog, I’m going to send you a normal email. If you didn’t use your real address to post, write back again! VCx

Jamie at 1:07 am on December 22nd, 2010

I missed it. I hope there’s a ‘listen back’ thing on radio 4’s website. Your stuff’s usually funny. ;)

MDW at 9:17 am on December 22nd, 2010

I’ll catch this later on iplayer

I did start a teenage diary but being a boy meant that it only had about 3 entries as there were too many trees to climb and games of football/cricket to play plus this was the 80’s and there seemed to be new stuff out every week to play with.
Surely nobody looks back on their school days and thinks they were cool ? I’m sure I spent 3 years thinking about the same girl, a girl I never spoke to once.

Thanks for the entertainment in 2010, glad I found this site and your witty writing, have a good Christmas and new year.

Markibeetheone at 11:18 am on December 22nd, 2010

That was (you are) brilliant Vicky..and thanks for iplayer. When I tuned in yesterday some other show was superimposed.
I never kept a diary (though might start soon) but I’d always dance.
So If you need someone to dance with (in private), to build up your confidence, you’ll call me..right?
( :-)) =(  :    :-      I
happy xmas etc all

David at 5:36 pm on December 22nd, 2010

Delightful. The golden thread through this programme was the inversion of priorities given to events. “Wogan” and “Loose Ends” being throwaway remarks and of course, the sentence ending “like when I had to interview Lord Snowdon”. I’ve noted that if by some million to one chance we happen to attend the same social event, I won’t be the only chorophobic present.

Alan C at 10:09 pm on December 22nd, 2010

Hi Victoria,
I liked the programme, it was very humorous. Though I don’t think a lot of teenage girls’ diaries would be like yours,  a lot of them don’t write newspaper columns or appear on television. They do have hang ups about boys and their weight though as girls that age do, obviously you have blossomed and left all that behind.  I think it was brave of you to recount your teenage diaries/thoughts on-air,  I wouldn’t do it even if I had written a diary though luckily I wouldn’t be asked to appear.  I’m sure it will be reassuring to teenagers listening that everyone even celebrities have insecurities and relationship problems (ie meeting the opposite sex)  when growing up,  even when they are older but that it all works out ok in the end.
Alan xx

Kevin Eccles at 3:07 am on December 23rd, 2010

I am very disappointed. Can’t believe you were so wanton in your youth.

Neil at 9:14 am on December 23rd, 2010

Hello Victoria
I listened to the show while I was driving to my Mothers.  I thought it was brilliant.  Thank you.

Mike at 3:41 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Hi Vicky,

I listened to your Teenage Diaries on Radio 4.  Seems like you had a few rather negative experiences regarding the opposite sex as I did when we were both younger.  In fact with me this lasted until I was nearly middle aged after deciding that I did not have to spend lots of energy worrying about my girl-friend-less life because maybe I was destined for greatness in other things.  So he we are the two of us: you, a famous broadcaster, writer and poker player.  Me: an ordinary run-of-the-mill kind hearted chap who never married partly out of choice and partly a conscious decision. But I am reasonably happy.

I hoe you and all your family have a happy Christmas and a healthy and fulfilling New Year.  XX

Victoria Coren at 4:13 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Happy Christmas to you too Mike, and everyone else who’s passing through here, and a lucky & peaceful new year.

Elise at 5:37 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Victoria, your teenage diaries were a surreal delight, and the combination of wit, customary teenage worries and the quite unusual made for interesting listening indeed! In the very long shot that you published them, I’d certainly buy it.

All the best for the new year, &c

Amanda at 9:01 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Have just finished listening to the broadcast on iplayer. It was so entertaining, I did laugh out loud. I was struck by your honesty as well. Have you ever considered publishing those diaries?

I do wish you a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

David R at 10:22 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Wow, that sounds like a nightmare, Vicky - the time when you read your best friend’s diary while she was in the bath, only to find out that she said that she hates you. That’s not very nice.

I hope she wasn’t singing in the bath at the time. I think that would have made it a lot worse.

On an entirely different subject, I think Christmas isn’t Christmas without some Perry:

AndytheDealer at 10:25 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Season’s greetings Vicky!

Now where did I put that old, brown corderoy shirt and yellow waistcoat, ensemble?

Camilla Waterman at 10:52 pm on December 23rd, 2010

Another former friend from school here ...
Really enjoyed listening to the programme - very entertaining. I seem to remember we used to play cards at the back in Latin classes ... perhaps that’s where your poker skills came from?! Well done again on the programme - it was good stuff.

John at 11:09 am on December 24th, 2010

Happy Christmas, VC… “God rest ye merry gentlemen…dee de…dee de…dee de…”

David Young at 12:17 pm on December 24th, 2010

It strikes me that what the 14 year-old Vicky Coren would like to know from the grown-up one would be the answer to the question ‘How am I going to lose all this weight?’.

I must say I was stunned when I saw a picture of you as a young teenager. How did you change so much? There’s a book to be written on this for sure.

RomanticRecluse at 3:54 pm on December 24th, 2010

Vicky, it was a good show but your teenage “vision” wasn’t going to come true.  If you wanted to meet an intelligent quirky misfit and form an exclusive mutual understanding you weren’t going to meet them at Oxford University (or a poker table or celebrity event).  People in those places want, for some reason (perhaps for money), to fit in and preferably into a big important group.  Would a real misfit want to do that?  Perhaps it’s time you had another vision or epiphany and perhaps to have it you need to go somewhere else, ignore clothes and hair and look into someone’s eyes, the windows to their soul.  Are you brave enough to do that?  I don’t think you are.  Fortune favours the brave…

Besides, why the teenage obsession with getting married?  Marriage can be unromantic and loveless.

Rog at 4:17 pm on December 24th, 2010

Wow, I am looking forward to listening to this, probably at 3pm on christmas day, instead of the queens speech! ps-  I am now looking foward to you writing ‘secret diaries of a poker player’!

Merry xmas

Julian at 10:29 am on December 25th, 2010

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and an even merrier New Year! X

Chris at 1:17 am on December 26th, 2010

Merry Christmas hope you have a prosperous new year at cards,presenting and writing. you have good banter and it usually breaks a smile so thanks.       

Adrian Fry at 2:18 pm on December 26th, 2010

Vicky, I loved your teenage diary programme, which oddly dredged up my own dim memories of your contributions to Radio 4’s Fourth Column.  I’m afraid I found you rather precocious and irritating in those days.  I also seem to remember - but may be wrong, which is why I ask - you writing a column in The Spectator about doing ‘work experience’ as a sort of home help for drunken Soho journo Jeffrey Bernard.  Did that happen, or did I dream it?

Victoria Coren at 7:32 pm on December 26th, 2010

You dreamt it! Or you’re thinking of somebody else. Sadly, I never even met Jeffrey Bernard.

Volpoon at 1:33 am on December 27th, 2010

Just watching Victoria on an old ‘Have I got News For You.’ She’s lovely, clever and witty.

VJ at 10:40 pm on December 27th, 2010

Thanks for giving us a peek into the “wild years” of this beautiful and clever woman.

Dan V at 3:17 pm on December 29th, 2010

Hello. Just finished reading your book, which I got as a Christmas present. Just wanted to say that its great, and you seem like a very cool human being.

Ken Singtone at 2:32 am on December 30th, 2010

Caught your programme on iplayer - very enjoyable and interesting.

My school was mixed (not that I was any more successful than you at dating) but I spent my time at university in a single-sex college.  Now things make more sense - thanks Victoria.  (Let me know if you want to know more) 

At least I now realise how much of your allure is due to your gorgeous voice and witty words. You have a future on radio, but I would still like to see more of you on TV.

Happy 2011

Chris at 3:05 pm on January 1st, 2011

Happy New Year to both blogger and blogees!!! :-)

NY resolution.. to get a job, a partner ..a life basically…

Rob at 3:49 pm on January 4th, 2011

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the article and probably wont. My post has one goal, to announce my and my flatmate’s undying affection for you Victoria. We happened upon Dave last night and you were on HIGNFY and I said how gorgeous you are and to my surprise Stefan broke away from his cyber-dating to agree. I’m surprised because he can be a bit dim and surely you are a thinking man’s Pixie Lott.

Anyway, that’s it really. Apologies for intruding upon your blog and to all those readers of it, i’m sure/I hope they understand.


SR at 6:42 pm on January 4th, 2011

Hi Victoria - love the blog which discovered yesterday and Obs column, but feel I must say something, vis a vis Concrete Bra, about RR, hope you don’t take offence.  RR if you’re creeping out a 35yr old male with your comments I can only guess how poor Victoria feels.  Take the hint - if she doesn’t reply to you there is a reason why!  Time to move on to other fish and all that.  Victoria, although often when you start on about the Poker side I start to feel like a kid in Charlie Brown’s class listening to the “mwah…mwah…mwah” of the Teacher I enjoy your take on life.  Loved the Karmic comeuppance of the Jolley Crew - btw loved your Dad on TTKH when I was a kid and later in the Times.  Keep your chin up and stop letting those idiotic Obs comments knock your confidence - Simon.

Jacob Knowles-Smith at 3:10 pm on January 5th, 2011

No need to post this on the blog, but your dad’s been causing posthumous trouble:

Victoria Coren

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