DJ Taylor: Becky Spilsby is a quiet girl, whose friendships are conducted with pallid wallflowers

 

Share

'I expect now you'll be wanting a clothes allowance," Mrs Spilsby remarked, breezing into her daughter's bedroom a few days after her 13th birthday. "No thanks, Mum," Becky replied, putting down her copy of The Great Gatsby. "I think I've got quite enough clothes to be going on with."

"And Mrs Canning at the gym asked if you'd like to come to Charmian's party next week. They're having a roller disco and she said there'd be lots of boys."

"No thanks, Mum," Becky replied with, if anything, even greater politeness. "Why on earth not?" Mrs Spilsby demanded. "Well, you see," Becky explained, "I don't know Charmian very well and what I'd really like to do is watch Casualty."

All this – time spent in the bedroom, the lack of any interest in every fashionable teenage activity from shopping to mixed parties – is becoming a great disappointment to the bearer of Mrs Canning's kind invitation and others like it. Having given birth to three hulking sons, Mrs Spilsby had greeted the arrival of her only daughter with an unfeigned enthusiasm. She had planned a future of shared confidences and mutual interest. Mrs Spilsby's own adolescence – her father had been an RAF officer with rather strict views – had been tightly policed. But Becky… Becky should have, if not absolute licence, then as much liberty as she wanted.

The trouble, alas, is that Becky seems wholly indifferent to these amenities. She is a nice, quiet, friendly girl, but her friendships tend to be conducted with the kind of pallid wallflowers Mrs Spilsby remembers from her own childhood, and her chief interest, as far as her mother can make out, is keeping a voluminous diary. There was a sensation the other week when a boy – a real, live boy – appeared at the door, but it turned out to be that dreary Toby from two doors down come to ask about the physics homework.

Meanwhile, the starter make-up case left accusingly on Becky's bedside table has yet to be opened, and the Facebook page set up for her contains little other than a picture of her cat. To do Mrs Spilsby justice, her distress is completely sincere. She would have liked nothing better, aged 13, than to go to a roller disco and snog boys at the garden gate, and the thought that she might in some wholly ineluctable way have failed in her duty as a parent is beginning to torment her.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'