An open letter to anyone struggling with being 17
danielle ward

Stand-up and podcast host Danielle Ward’s Fringe show is all about the struggles of being 17. She offers her advice to the 17-year-olds of today

Dear Seventeen year olds,

Let me say this first. These are not the best years of your life unless you are really unlucky.

Being incredibly popular at 17 is poison. One of the most ‘popular’ girls from the year above me at school is a grandmother. At 38. And she spouts racist bile on Facebook. And she looks about 55 (Lesson One: Moisturise). While the losers, weirdos, quiet ones, ugly ones, the readers, scholars, funny ones, serious ones, sporty ones, ginger ones and all the kids with allergies are now much happier.

But that’s the future. What about now? Well in the 20 years since I was 17, I’ve learnt a thing or two.

The world is a scary place. But not quite as scary as it seems. I must stress not quite. It is really scary right now but it seems so much worse with rolling news and rolling social media and video footage of a world of horrors.

If Twitter had existed during the Cold War, everyone would have spent the Sixties and Seventies stuck in homemade fallout shelters fashioned from mattresses, gaffer tape and disposable baking trays; everyone cowering in one room with an old Quality Street tin as a toilet.

Sex is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty great, but there are other things that – if not better – are certainly awesome. Having a wee when you really really really need a wee. Getting to the point where your new shoes no longer cut your feet open. Eating a conference pear like you’re Henry VIII. Taking your bra off in the theatre. Sticking cotton buds in your ears even though you’re not supposed to. Gin.

All of these things are wonderful, and none of them will give you an infection (apart from the holding in your wee one. That one might cause urinary tract problems).

You will disappoint your parents. The last time my mum visited me I dressed our salad with some lovely balsamic vinegar. She couldn’t believe how lovely this vinegar was ‘Oh this is lovely vinegar, Danielle. I didn’t know such a thing existed’.

After much vinegar talk I offered to buy her some from the fancy indoor market in Sloane Square where I’d bought it. She asked how much it had cost. £8.99, I said.

I’ve never seen my working class mum look at me with such disgust. Nearly ten quid for a bottle of vinegar. Was I actually insane? Let’s hope she never reads the Sunday Times style magazine. They have sofas in that which cost ten grand.

Of course there’s also careers, housing, feminism, love and politics. But that’s all covered in my Fringe show. Tickets are £1 if you’re under 21. You can see it nine times instead of getting your next bottle of pointlessly expensive vinegar.

Love Danielle Ward (37 and 3/4)

Danielle Ward – Seventeen, Just the Tonic at The Caves, 14:40 (15:40) 4th – 28th (Not 15), tickets