A Love Letter To London From Cleo Howard and I

When you’re growing up in the south of England, London is the cool place where everything happens and you can’t wait to go there. It’s a place that represents freedom and pleasure. It’s a place where you can buy clothes and create your identity. It’s a place where you can hear music you love.

To celebrate this, here are some of the mentions of London made in Cleo Howard’s diaries.



Wednesday 11th June 1997 I didn’t buy Kerrang! this week because Bon Jovi is on the cover. I read in Ian’s Metal Hammer that Alice Cooper is playing here in England in July. I asked Mum if I can go. She said no. She says I’m not old enough to go to London on my own. I said I wouldn’t be going on my own, Jenni and Ian would be coming with me. She said they aren’t old enough to go either. She said maybe next year when I’m sixteen. Why does everything have to wait until I’m sixteen? I’m mature for my age. It’s so unfair. We listened to Gav’s Best of the Undertones album. I wish I was getting some teenage kicks.

Wednesday 2nd July 1997 I’m so happy today. I get to go to my first gig (Reading Festival Sunday – Metallica and Marilyn Manson) in less than two months. Maybe next year I’ll get to go to a gig in London. I bought Kerrang! without hesitation because Alice Cooper is in it. Jenni won’t like this issue though because Alice is claiming that Marilyn Manson stole his act. We’ll see for ourselves in August! Me and Ian listened to Gav’s The Specials album. I like “Too Much Too Young”. I’m going to heed its warning and not get married too young (or maybe at all, it looks rubbish based on Mum and Dad).

Monday 6th October 1997 Today I went into town with Shot. She needed some safety pins for a T-shirt she’s customising. She said you can’t buy decent punk clothes anywhere in Reading. She said when she’s eighteen she’s going to go out in London wearing just black masking tape over her nipples, like Wendy O Williams. She said Wendy O Williams gets misunderstood and what she does is not about sex, but is really about power.

Tuesday 26th May 1998 We had our English Literature exam today. Miss Wallace told us not to be nervous because she had prepared us well. But she looked really, really nervous.  All we knew about the exam was that we would get a poem by one of fifteen poets and then we’d have to write about it. When I turned over the paper it was William Blake’s “London”. I’ve never read this before but it had loads of stuff in it to comment on. I have now finished doing English. It was my favourite subject. Everything else is harder than English.

Wednesday 27th May 1998 If William Blake had been to Camden he might not be so rude about London. I suppose London probably was grim in the olden days when he was writing.

Thursday 15th October 1998 Mum said Jean and Josie were in the shop, buying lots of Andrex loo roll. You can win a weekend in London. Jean said they like to try and add some excitement to their weekly shop. Mum wished them luck.

Wednesday 27th January 1999 Matty Bateman farted really loudly in English and said “Bring out the Branston!” He thinks he’s funny but he’s not. I suggested to Dazza that his band should have a mascot, like Vic Rattlehead. He’s going to draw one. I found some Sociology in The Rats. Mr Harris, the teacher, is sad because the poor areas of London are mucky and covered in litter and get rats more easily. Mr Harris sounds like a good teacher like Miss Wallace.

Wednesday 24th February 1999 I met Jenni and Shot at eight-thirty and we got the bus to London. We got the tube to Kensington Market and we didn’t get lost because Shot knew where she was going because she’d been before with Glen. Every shop in Kensington Market has great stuff. I looked at a bag which is a silver backpack with angel wings but it was forty pounds. Maybe I’ll come back for it if I get lots of birthday money.

Jenni’s favourite shop is The Black Rose. It is the Gothest shop I have ever seen. Jenni got an Omen Clothing top that says “Vampire” and an SDL bondage skirt. Shot spent ages looking in the hairdressers at their pictures of what they can do. They only do alternative hairstyles and can dye your hair any colour you want. They also do extensions (like Danni from behind the bar at the Green Man has) that look like My Little Pony hair. You can have them in tiny plaits or in dreadlocks.

I bought a Misfits T-shirt. I got a different one to the one Shot has. Shot has the skull one and I have the Die, Die, My Darling one. I got a black leather skirt too. Shot got lime green and bright pink hair dye and a Stargazer bleach kit. She also got an Omen Clothing bondage dress with the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen print on. She nearly bought one which had “slut” printed all over it but she’s not a slut.

All the shops have cool music playing. I heard David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel”, plus loads of Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Bob Marley (Shot said that it is an ancient bylaw that Bob Marley’s Legend album has to be playing somewhere at all times in Kensington Market), Iron Maiden and Entombed.

Tuesday 29th June 1999 I made Ian come in Miss Selfridge with me today and we saw Jessica Rice. She had her hair in pigtails with fluffy hairbands, like Britney Spears in the “Baby One More Time” video. Jess left school after GCSEs and has been working in Miss Selfridge ever since. She is still engaged to Owen Tranter. He is a DJ in Reading but he wants to branch out to London.

Thursday 16th September 1999 Why is everyone playing Geri Halliwell’s “Mi Chico Latino”? I heard it in Miss Selfridge today. Me and Jenni saw Jessica Rice in Miss Selfridge. She is still going out with Owen Tranter but he’s called DJ Onit now. Jess said it was a clever name because it’s like “on it”, like on drugs or ready for a big night out, but also, it’s his name; “O” for Owen, “ni” for Nigel which is his middle name and “T” for Tranter. He hasn’t got any DJing gigs in London yet. He will probably be the next Fatboy Slim according to Jess, which will make her the next Zoe Ball.

Monday 18th October 1999 Type O Negative are playing in London in December! Type O Negative! In London! Which is near Reading! I have to go. Imagine being in the same room as Pete Steele and seeing his actual face! And the rest of him! The man is practically a God. Jenni is asking her parents tonight if she can go. They will say yes without a fight. I need to pick my moment with Mum. I also want to ask her if I can have driving lessons but this will have to wait until she’s said yes to Type O.

Wednesday 20th October 1999 Mum has agreed to me going to see Type O Negative! She didn’t even argue or try to make me promise to be back at a certain time. I took all my washing up downstairs and then I asked. I pointed out that Jenni is going, that her Dad is a university lecturer, that Ian is coming with us, and I already have a ticket and I’ve been to London a bunch of times already and nothing bad happened. Mum said yes I can go and she said if I go to uni next year she’ll have no say in what I do so she might as well get used to it. Now I just have to wait forty days! It’s such a long time. It’s like that bit before Easter when religious people give up chocolate. Now I actually understand how tough that would be.

Tuesday 30th November 1999 I am going to see Type O Negative tomorrow! I can’t think about anything else. None of us have lessons on Wednesday afternoons so we’re going to London at two!

Wednesday 1st December 1999 Me, Ian, Jenni and Lex got the coach to London and we were too early for the gig so we went to Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus (Lex has been here before with Mopey) and we went to a pub called the Intrepid Fox which is like a much bigger version of the Green Man and then we queued up outside the Astoria to get into the gig. I just stood and looked at what people were wearing for a bit. There were lots of people with pink hair like Shot. There were a lot of women in high heels. I read in the Playgirl interview that Pete Steele did that he likes women in high heels. I tried them once but they made my ankles shake.

I was wearing my fourteen hole DMs, Nine Inch Nails vest, matt black PVC skirt and lime green fishnet tights (for some “Creepy Green Light”, like the Type O song!)

Static X didn’t turn up. Wayne Static has hair that stands on end, as if he’s been Van de Graaf generatored, like I once was in Physics, because my hair was the longest and straightest in the class. Coal Chamber were good. I liked them better live than I do on CD. Seeing Nadja reminded me to practise bass. If I was in a band I could be backstage with the other musicians.

Type O Negative were incredible! Me and Jenni were more excited than Ian and Lex. I think we squealed when the band came on but in a cool way, not in a lame boy band way obviously. We weren’t the only ones. Pete Steele is even better looking up close (I’ve decided to refer to him as Pete rather than Peter, it’s more informal and I have now been in the same room as him, sharing the same air). He has the deepest voice I’ve ever heard. It’s like standing next to a speaker. It goes all the way from your head to your feet, pausing in the middle to tickle your special lady place (sorry for being indecorous Dear Diary, but it’s so true). There were loads of girls wearing really low cut tops and I wished my chest would get a move on and grow. Ian and I could perve freely since our boyfriend and girlfriend weren’t there. Everything on stage was lit up with green lights. I didn’t want it to end.

Afterwards I was so sad it was over. We walked to Oxford Circus tube station. Almost the whole platform was full of people who had been to the gig. Then we got the Victoria line tube to Victoria so we could get the coach back to Reading. I don’t like the crowds on the tube. Ian held my hand when we were getting off at Victoria so I didn’t get lost. We went to a shop called Whistlestop and got crisps then we got the coach home. It was really cold when we got off the coach in Reading. When I got in I had a cup of tea. Mum got up for a wee (or was she checking to see I wasn’t drunk?) and said I will be tired in the morning.

Saturday 4th December 1999 Mum is being mental today. She accused me of doing drugs when I went to London. She has seen loads of news reports about the dangers of ecstasy and thinks that as soon as you get off the coach in London someone gives you a big bag of drugs and asks you if you want to be a prostitute. She would go mad if she heard Ice T telling women to follow their dream of being a ho. He’s not saying women should be a ho, just if they want to. Some women might like it. It’s not in the folder of careers leaflets in the library.

Tuesday 7th December 1999 I think when I leave school I should move to London. Great gigs happen all the time in London. I wonder if there is a university which is near the Astoria? Or one near Camden?


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