Kate Nicol, aged 13, lives on a housing estate in Brixton, south London, with her mother and Sally the cat.
At night I crawl in under my bed, light a candle and write my diary. It's the most secret place I can think of. I've been doing this for about two years now, though it's getting more and more difficult to squeeze myself in there as I keep on growing.
I'd die if anyone read my diary. I write all my innermost thoughts and feelings in it. I always write my problems down. It gets them out of me and helps me get back to a place where everything is OK. Recently, for example, I was having a lot of trouble with some kids on the estate. There's a big gang of boys and girls, about 50 of them, and they beat me up a couple of times when I was going to the corner shop after dark. Some boys kicked the door of our flat down and we've had bricks through the window. My mum called the caretaker and he brought in the police, but that just makes it worse. They've got it in for you even more.
In the beginning I was scared and had nightmares that I was in a phone box and all those kids were banging on the glass; I was ringing the police but they said sorry, they were closed. I felt so powerless. I am sure that if we had a man living with us they wouldn't pick on me. I wrote about it a lot in my diary and got over it that way. I feel angry with them now and just avoid them . . . but I still don't think it's fair.
I do go out sometimes, but I spend more time in my bedroom these days, so I decided to keep it nice and tidy - it's more cheerful like that. It used to be a tip and my mum would sweep everything into a big pile, vacuum round it and then go on at me when I got home.
I've got pictures of East 17 everywhere - I want to cover all the walls and the ceiling with them. They're the best. The one I really like is Tony Mortimer. I once met him at a signing in a record store. When I got to the front of the queue my legs turned to jelly and I had to grip the table to stop myself falling over. I'd made him a Christmas card and my hands were shaking like mad when I gave it to him. Then he kissed me on the lips. I couldn't speak. I just managed to whisper 'goodbye'. I was licking my lips for days afterwards]
I've dreamt about Tony nearly every night since then. In one dream he was in the middle of a swimming pool signing autographs, then everyone else suddenly vanished and it was just him and me. I quickly dived into the water . . . but then I woke up]
I play East 17 really loudly in my bedroom and go mad. I dance and sing along if I'm sure no one can hear me. My mum sometimes gets really angry when I play the same thing about 350 times. She says it's spoiling her enjoyment of Thunderbirds or whatever boring Sixties programme she's watching. But I wedge the door with a stool so she can't come in. There's a notice on my door saying 'Keep Out - House of Love' but she doesn't pay any attention.
Every weekend I have my two best friends to stay over or I go to their houses. We stay up really late and try to scare each other with ghost stories and spooky noises. We dance and have midnight feasts. Then we snuggle up under the blankets and talk, usually about boys, and East 17, and what we're going to do the next day.
Night is much more exciting than the day for some reason. Last week we had a competition to see who could stay up the longest and none of us slept at all. We went for a walk at dawn and that was great because we could hear the birds singing.
In the week I do my homework at about 10pm, just before I go to bed. I always leave it to the last minute. I really look forward to going to sleep because recently my dreams have become so real. It's like going to the cinema every night] I reckon dreams are the thoughts that you don't think during the day with the surface of your mind. They just pop up when you're asleep. The best thing about them is that you can really do impossible things, like have a cup of tea in your living room with Tony Mortimer.
When it's dark outside, especially if it's windy and raining, it feels very cosy to be in bed. I try to make the cat, Sally, get in with me, but she'll only sleep on top of the duvet. When I was younger I used to cuddle my toy bunny every night. Now I snuggle up with my pillow - and pretend it's Tony.
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