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Ingrate

Last week, Caitlin linked through to this article. "Article"? "Post"? Whatever. It's a collection of tweets from people who are enraged that their parents failed to buy them an iPhone/correctly coloured iPhone/car for Christmas and, while I hope a lot of them are joking, the level of spoilt selfishness is staggering.

But...

But... it did make me think about my most shameful memory.

We all have them. We all have moments from our past which still make us cringe to think of them. That time we used the wrong word by accident and sounded like a bigot? That time we talked really loudly about condoms in front of adults so they would [totally not] think that we were grown ups? That time we were merrily slagging somebody off only to realise they were standing right behind us? Those.

But mine wasn't an accident; mine was intentional.

You see, my parents never made a big deal out of birthdays or Christmases. They had decent jobs but their money wasn't limitless and their financial priority was bringing their children up in a comfortable home rather than giving us foreign holidays and extravagant gifts. As a child, I didn't think much about it; as an adult, I totally agree. But the point is that my presents from them were small and inexpensive and my stocking contained an apple, an orange and a small bag of chocolate money.

But when I was fifteen I decided that I wanted a fancy typewriter. One of those ones with a little screen which showed you the last line you had typed so you could check the spelling before anything was committed to paper.

In these days of tablets and Macs that probably doesn't sound like much, but in the nineties, to a teenager who wanted to be a novelist when she grew up, they were the ultimate in gadgetry.

At the time, I was using my mum's old typewriter from the early seventies. It weighed roughly the same as a car and, as I could no longer find any new ribbons for it, I had to overtype everything about five times in order for my words to be legible. I was heading to university the moment I was old enough; I definitely needed an upgrade.

So my parents made a deal with me: if I could save up half the cost of the typewriter, they would pay for the other half and give it to me for my combined birthday-Christmas. Perfect. I saved for months. I saved every penny of my pocket money. I stopped buying sweets; I borrowed books from the rather rubbish school library; I talked my dad into paying for my magazines and camera films. I saved so hard until I had my share of the typewriter costs.

And my parents stuck to their word. On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, they presented me with a shiny new typewriter.

But I was a teenage girl in the nineties and it wasn't done to show excitement or gratitude or pleasure. And so I tried my hardest not to.

I sucked on my cheeks so I wouldn't smile. I barely looked at the typewriter or at my parents as they gave it to me. I did my best to feign indifference (not, of course, realising that the loud, frantic clattering of typewriter keys the moment my parents left my bedroom would give the game away). And while, in hindsight, my parents probably understood enough about sulky teenagers to see straight through me, at that point in time the potential for them to be hurt by my behaviour was far less important to me than my need to seem horrid cool.

So while I was never at the "FML they got me a BLACK iPhone!" stage, I can't judge these brats too harshly.

Who else has a guilty memory they would like to get off their chest? Somebody? Anybody? Please! It can't just be me...?!

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