I wasn’t writing this blog when the first series of E4’s teen drama Skins hit our screens in 2007, but if I had been, I probably would’ve written about how it bore no resemblance whatsoever to my experience of teenage life.
In many respects that’s probably a good thing. As a teenager, you could’ve locked me in a room for a week with nothing but the complete series of Hallelujah! on DVD and I still would’ve ended up masturbating to a uniformed Thora Hird. Although I doubt you could get ten episodes out of that, and it probably wouldn’t pick up any Bafta nominations.
You might remember the original trailer for the first series of Skins, which depicted a riotous teenage house party taking place to the soundtrack of Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control. It looked like the last days of Rome, but with more shaving foam and a formidable arsenal of Super Soakers filled with piss and alcopops.
Watching a load of teens vomiting on each other, then washing the technicoloured glaze from their semi-naked bodies during orgiastic shower sessions, made me think I’d missed out as a teen. Is that what I should have been doing all those years ago?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I was playing with Hornby train sets and watching Countdown when I was 17/18 years old. But the closest I got to a sexual experience during my teens was on a camping holiday to the Lake District with three mates in 1993. (And no, it didn’t involve a homoerotic game of Top Gun volleyball.)
As four red-blooded single males we were hoping that our lads’ holiday was going to be a blur of beer and women and sex, maybe with occasional breaks for Kendal Mint Cake to replenish our dwindling energy supplies. However, when we arrived at the campsite (I can’t remember what it was called; I assume it was something like The Hills Have Eyes) it seemed ridiculously quiet for the height of summer. There was just us, a family of four from the North East, and a young couple in a tent.
As you can imagine, the collective disappointment was palpable.
Nothing much happened for the first few days of our holiday, except for the owners of the campsite accusing us of letting off fire extinguishers around the place (even though we were completely innocent). And to add insult to injury we couldn’t even shop the real culprit because he had the perfect disguise: he was about 8-years-old and was staying with his parents in the caravan next to ours. He would no doubt go on to become an excellent Skins teenager, just as long as he remembered to always expel a fire extinguish over a girl in her underwear.
Things finally started to look up when, on a typically quiet summers evening, two coach-loads of Czech Girl Guides rolled into camp quite unexpectedly. It was like waking up in my very own Robin Askwith Confessions film, and I naively anticipated finding myself in a variety of saucy situations over the remaining days of the holiday.
Even before the Czech coach drivers had killed their engines, our caravan was engulfed in a fog of deoderant spray. It looked like a special forces assault team had tossed a couple of Lynx Java grenades through the window to smoke us out, but we really didn’t need any encouragement.
We first attempted to harness the Guides’ attention with our skill and athleticism during an impromptu kick-around with a football. But perhaps unsurprisingly, that failed to generate any interest whatsoever. Our second wave of attack saw us walking around the campsite smoking cigars under the misguided assumption that the Guides’ bedrooms back in the Czech Republic were adorned with lipstick-kissed posters of George Burns.
We eventually called time on our futile efforts at wooing the opposite sex and returned to our caravan, where we drank beer, played cards and took it in turns to read the Mayfair and Club International magazines we’d jointly bought at the start of the holiday. We were down, but by no means out.
However, by early next morning, when my mate returned from an unscheduled run (which he’d planned as a third attempt to get noticed by the Czech Girl Guides), he reported that they’d vanished without a trace.
I always felt that the sudden appearance of those Girl Guides was like our version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man; the physical embodiment of our collective, sex-obsessed thoughts. It took us a whole day to get over the news of their departure.
Why have I told you this story? Because I have absolutely nothing to write about at the moment, that’s why. Still, that’s 800 words in the bag. 800 useless words.
Incidentally, season five of Skins (the third generation cast) started on E4 a couple of weeks ago. In the trailer for the new series all the characters are naked and falling to earth at high speed, as if they’ve just been ejected from an Easy Jet flight at 30,000ft for trying to replicate season one’s house party on board.
Good thing, too. Because if I didn’t get any as a teenager, neither should anyone else.