I don’t remember being given Milly-Molly-Mandy. Just that she was one of three favourite childhood toys (the second being a bear I got for my birthday named Birthday Bear, the other an anomalously stuffed Troll Doll called Huggable). She was named after my favorite character, Milly-Molly-Mandy, the namesake of my favorite childhood book. Milly-Molly-Mandy was a Blyton-esque explorer of the mundane. Her eating a jacket potato becoming an exceptional favourite, which I obsessed over and underwhelmingly dubbed “Milly-Molly-Mandy potatoes”.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/225750903″>Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user68633656″>Rebekah Whitlam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
I’ve been told that we had “absolutely nothing” when I was born in 1984, my mum admitting she cried when the orange cordial split because we couldn’t afford another one. But my earliest memories are cemented by an unwavering, have-it-all, go-getting spirit of the 90s. I could be whoever, or whatever I wanted to be. “If I put my mind to it”. And there was nothing to worry about because of another golden ticket- “It all works out in the end”.
Selected memories from the never-ending 90s.
1990 Sat crossed legged in Y.3. John Major becomes Prime Minister.
1992 The Big Breakfast airs on channel 4.
1993 Live and Kicking with Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston take over Saturday morning t.v.
1994 FHM coins the term “ladette”. TLC release Crazy Sexy Cool.
1995 Hooch is launched in Britain.
1996 The Spice Girls debut with “Wannabe” and Geri Halliwell cites Thatcher as a pioneer of girl power. New Labour release their manifesto.
1997 I draw a life map in R.E. According to me, I will hit all life’s aspirations by the age of 27. Graduated, Employed, Married, Mortgaged, and Mothered. I pencil in questioned likelihood of an after life.
That same year I start to attract the attention of boys that smell of Lynx Africa and chewing gum.
1998 We get a computer and the internet. I get drunk in the park. I’m too sick to go on a school trip to Alton Towers.
1999 Destiny’s Child release The Writings On The Wall. I get a mobile phone for Christmas.
2000 The Spice Girls go on a hiatus.
2002 Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes dies in a car accident.
2003 I get pulled in by the head of year to discuss my future. I don’t know yet. I defer a year.
2004 I become so anxious that I stop eating and sleeping. Put on anti depressants. Go to Australia. I start an art foundation course.
2005 Brian Harvey runs himself over after gorging on jacket potatoes. I start my degree.
2006 I drop out. Go to therapy.
2007 I Go back to university. The Spice Girls reunite.
2008 Recession hits. We enter an age of austerity and a generation becomes witness to an event horizon from which lynx and lager cannot escape.
Images from mixed media installation, Milly-Molly-Mandy Gets Loaded and Other Stories, by Rebekah Whitlam, from the exhibition, Will the Last Person To Leave The 20th Century Please Turn Off the Lights, Baildon, July, 2017.