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If 29 Year Old Me Had A Conversation With My 18 Year Old Self: Part Three




The year is 2011, and I am 18 years old.

It’s a Wednesday night in Manchester, meaning there is only one place to be: The Birdcage. Fondly dubbed ‘Underage Cage’ by my friends who have not yet turned 18, this nightclub is infamous for its slapdash approach to checking ID.


Me (29) enters the club and almost immediately sticks to the floor, which is glistening with a rancid, unidentified substance.


Sweat by Snoop Dogg plays out of the speakers at a spine-shaking decibel that could raise the dead.


Boys queue up for photos with the scantily-clad nightclub ‘hostesses’ against huge ‘REHAB’ signs. Tomorrow, these photos will be the profile pictures of every 18 year old lad in the club.


The hostesses are handing out Chupa Chup lollies, for reasons [still] unspecified.


The whole place absolutely reeks of tack.


Now, where is she? Where would I find my 18 year old self?

Ah, there she is. Up on the podium – of course she is.


Me (18) is wearing a pair of leather hot-pants no bigger than a postage stamp, with what can only be described as a black bra. The piece de resistance of this hideous attire, however, are the utterly vile, needlessly high turquoise velour wedges she is tottering around in.

And don't even get me started on the molten-coloured fake tan and seizure-inducing amounts of Barry M body glitter...


Me (18) slut-drops in full view of the entire club, while brandishing a bottle of orange Fruit Shoot.

She and her girls have attracted the attention of a large group of lads, all dressed to impress in burgundy Chinos, Hollister polo shirts and TOMs. One of them is wearing a baggy River Island t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a red-haired Rihanna. Classic.


A lad is shoved forward by his mates and stumbles awkwardly into the path of Me (18), interrupting her twerking session.

His mates are shouting what sounds like, “TELL HER!”


Somebody moves in-front of Me (29) and temporarily blocks my view. When I look up again, Me (18) is kissing the lad, slap-bang in the middle of the club, with all of the brazen casualness of a stroll to the local Co-Op.

Me (29) notes that the lad has even had the decency to remove his Chupa Chup lolly.

Whoever said romance was dead?


It’s hard to believe that just 6 months ago, the only boy this girl had ever kissed was her fave pony, Bobby.


Me (29) shoves Me (18) into the toilets.


Me (29): What the fresh hell do you think you’re doing?!


Me (18) completely ignores Me (29) and continues to type on her Blackberry Bold.


Me (29): Oi! What are you doing?!


Me (18) - sighs dramatically and finally manages to tear herself away from her phone: I was updating my ‘Pull List.’


Me (29): I’m sorry, what? What in the name of SANITY is a Pull List?!


Me (18) – rolls her eyes at Me (29): A list of lads I’ve pulled, OBVIOUSLY. Or should I say, a list of lads we’ve pulled.


Me (18) smirks at Me (29) devilishly and I want rip those hideous, HIDEOUS turquoise wedges from her feet and launch them out of the grubby little window.


Me (18) - bites the wrapper off a Chupa Chup and sucks nonchalantly: The funny thing is, you come in here all high and mighty and all like ‘Ooh I’ve got a mortgage and a birdfeeder, I’m sooo mature now,’ but you forget... We’re the same freakin’ person!! YOU did all of this! YOU pulled five lads in one night at Cage!


Me (29) – in an indignant tone: I did not! ... Did I?


Me (18): Yep!! Look – here’s the Pull List. We’re currently on 11. So CHEEKY!!


Me (29): 11?! We’ve kissed 11 boys? But... But we only had our first kiss when we were 17! You’ve had a busy six months, clearly!


Me (18): You see him?


Me (18) points out a name that Me (29) vaguely remembers from the deepest, darkest pits of the memory bank.


Me (18): He’s WELL fit. And we’ve pulled him not once, but TWICE! Once at Jack’s pareth,’ and once at The Ritz. You can put THAT on your CV!


Me (18) looks so proud of herself. She pouts at the mirror and zhuzhs-up her non-existent boobs.


Me (29): Cara... I’ve been avoiding looking, but I think we need to address the elephant in the room... Are you literally just wearing a bra?


Me (18): No! It’s a bikini top, actually.


Me (29): You’re wearing a bikini top... Out in public?


Me (18) looks Me (29) up and down with a look of scorn on her face.


Me (18): You’re wearing Adidas joggers and heels... Out in public? Soz, Sporty Spice. When’s your next Selfridges collab? You know what? I’m sick of you judging me! I think it’s about time you learned some home truths!


Me (29) is temporarily lost for words.


Me (29) – having to shout over Rizzle Kicks ‘Mamma Do The Hump’: ME learn some home truths?! You think you know it all, don’t you? Well, you don’t. You’re 18. Oh, just you wait until you see your A-Level results – you won’t be so cocky when you have to repeat a year at college because you’ve pissed away 12 months learning how to apply tacky pink sparkly lipstick instead of actually listening in English Lit!


Me (18) moves her face inches form mine and smacks her tacky, pink, sparkly lips together.

God, I’d love to slap her.


Me (18): And YOU won’t be so self-righteous when I remind you that your marriage ended just eight months after it began! You should take a leaf out of my book: I’ve liked Jase for eight months, two weeks, three days and nine hours. I don’t know who you get your commitment issues from, but it’s not me.


Me (29) – reels in shock: Now hang on a minute, that’s a bit below the belt! You’ve literally just been telling me how many boys you’ve ‘pulled’ over the past six months – that’s not very committed, is it? And anyway, Jase hates you. It’s not a commitment if it’s one sided, you know!


Me (18): Ooh, touched a nerve, have I? Maybe before you lecture me on life lessons, let’s just remember that you’re not perfect, either. You might be nearly 30, but you still make mistakes, just like I do. And one day, Me (40) or Me (50) might come and pay YOU a visit!

Besides, if it weren’t for me, you actually wouldn’t even, like, be here. You wouldn’t be you. You’d probably still be that snivelling little geek from high school, with Jacqueline Wilson as your only mate. I made you, girl!


Me (29) opens my mouth to protest... But she’s right.


Me (18) looks infuriatingly triumphant.

She produces another two Fruit Shoots from her deceptively small River Island clutch bag and holds one out to Me (29).


Me (18): Truce?


Me (29) reluctantly accepts the Fruit Shoot: Truce.


Me (18) and Me (29) sip our orange Fruit Shoots in companionable silence for a few minutes.

I sneak a glance at Me (18). Yes, she might be dressed like an extra from a Pussycat Dolls video, but she oozes this killer confidence, and I find myself feeling almost envious of her. She’s young and staggeringly stupid, but she’s vivacious and – in her words – living her best life. And I love that about her.


Me (29): Cara... Why were that lad’s mates yelling ‘Tell her’ just before you kissed him?


Me (18): It’s just a game they play. So, like, a lad will say to his mates ‘she’s fit’ and if they reply with ‘tell her,’ he has to tell her. It’s WELL funny! That’s actually how Tom and Lottie got together – he told his mates her bum looked peng in her Hollister sweatpants, and they’ve been together for, like, six weeks now.


Me (29): Right...


The door opens and the sound of Azeila Banks’ 2011 hit ‘212’ blasts into the toilets.


Me (18): This is the last song of the night. You coming Funky Chicken?


Me (29): What the actual F is Funky Chicken? Christ, I can literally taste the salmonella from here!


Me (18): It’s this takeaway place outside the club. It’s absolutely angin,’ but everyone goes and it almost always kicks off. Nothing like a bit of DRAMZ to end the night! Last week, we stole one of Cam’s TOMs and filled it with nuggets and BBQ sauce and he was so drunk he didn’t even notice and put it back on!!! The taxi driver wouldn’t let him in, so we all ended up getting the last 192 and Lottie was sick from the top deck to the bottom. We had to get off at the 24-hour Maccies and order McFlurries – bit of stodge to calm her stomach, you know? It was HILAR!!!


Do I want to go and sit in a one-star hygiene rated takeaway in the middle of Manchester with a load of lads 'kicking off?'

Do I want to catch the night bus and watch my mates projectile vomit down the stairs?

Do I want to ‘hilariously’ walk around the McDonalds drive-thru in my velour wedges at 4am and sit on the curb eating McFlurries with half of my college: a sea of Hollister and Britney Fantasy perfume?

Yeah. Yeah, I actually do.

Those were the days!


Cara Jasmine Bradley


💋 Read Part One here: 💋


💋 And Part Two here: 💋

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