First interview with Lucinda, 16-17, Asian/Indian Sub-continent, working class, no religion. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LJH18)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Lucinda, who is planning on going to college to work in the travel industry. She has had a difficult time lately - going through an abortion and the death of a friend - but seems determined not to let anything else rock her boat too much. Family life is often tricky, as she is trying to balance her parents cultural and religious values with tobacco, alcohol use and going out with boys. Lucinda is also ambivalent about her own Muslim heritage, but wants to hold on to her Indian background - she fears she has become 'too westernised'. She is the oldest of three siblings and finds this hard sometimes. Her sex education was quite good, though she notes a difference between older and younger teachers and feels there is a clash of expectation with the older generation. She's worried about the risk of AIDs, and is adamant on condom use in her sexual relationships.
Reanimating Data Project
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Q. ... Have you spoken to any of the others about what we've been doing?
Q. I mean, basically what we're interested in is just to talk to young women about their
relationships, how they feel about them and what they think about them, and so I was
thinking of asking you to start up, what is the most important relationship that you have
at the moment, any kind of relationship?
Q. Well maybe I should go one back. What are the important relationships for you?
A. What, for me? Is this like between boys and girls or Q. Well, just sort of relationships - could be any sort of relationship - your parents,
A. Well, my best friend really. That's the most important relationship to me at the
Q. Yeah. What's that like?
A. It's not perfect, it has its flaws, but I mean I'm able to communicate with her and
everything really easily; we seem to know what each other's thinking anyway. The other
relationship that - well I've had, was very good, was between my boyfriend... that's
A. ... type of relationship with my parents at all.
Q. You don't?
Q. You don't get on with them?
Q. Are you living at home?
A. Yeah... eighteen ...
Q. What's been the problem with your parents?
A. Maybe it's 'cos I'm too westernised, that might be a problem, 'cos they come from
India, too westernised. I mean they're not exactly backward either, my parents - my
father was brought up here and actually went to the school across the road... They let
me out occasionally, but I'm that kind of person wants to go out all the time and have a
good time, but I can't be stuck at home all the time. We just don't get on at all.
A. Plus... which totally ruined me a couple of months back.
Q. What was that?
A. I had an abortion.
Q. Did you?
A. Yeah. Which went wrong. And they told me I may not be able to have children.
Q. It's very difficult to take, isn't it. But do you think - I mean they may be - they may be
wrong, but do you think that they're right?
A. I don't know.
Q. Yeah. Hard to tell.
A. I mean I haven't told my parents about it.
Q. At all?
A. No. They've got no idea at all... That's how my friend actually helped me a lot, 'cos
she helped me through it.
Q. Have you spoken to anybody else about it, did you find it difficult to A. I don't find it difficult now 'cos I've kind of come to terms with it now, but before, at the
time, you know, when I was pregnant I was like crying all the time. And now if I look at
small children, I always think oh no, you know.
Q. Well it's very recent isn't it, I mean A. Yeah.
Q. What about - what happened with the boyfriend then, I mean was that A. He never found out, he never knew at all.
Q. You didn't tell him?
A. Well actually I did tell him afterwards, about three months after I told him, he was
pretty hurt that I hadn't told him at the time, but I said I thought it was my own, my own
thing to do, and it's my decision, and like I've been thinking now if it was - if he had
something to do with it.
Q. What... Was, I mean how was the relationship at the time that you became pregnant,
I mean was it okay, or A. Well it was a very sudden thing anyway, we weren't thinking about actually having a
relationship like that, we just got carried away one night, I found out I was pregnant, by
then we'd split up.
Q. How did you feel about splitting up with him, I mean A. Well, I - at the time we split up I didn't know I was pregnant, and I was pretty happy
Q. Yeah. You weren't too keen on him then – well, it's a difficult situation isn't it, I mean A. But, I don't know, we're sort of mates now.
Q. Yeah. Was that the boyfriend that you'd had a sexual relationship with?
Q. And you just got carried away one night A. Mm. And I regret it all.
Q. Yeah? Who was he, was he somebody that you knew as a friend before?
A. Yeah, someone I knew as a friend, yeah.
Q. Yeah... A difficult sort of thing to ... isn't it? Well I hope it's gonna be okay, I mean it
would be good to speak to - I mean are there any people here at the school,
counsellors, people you could talk to about it?
Q. Yeah. Well it's as well not to sort of bottle it up yourself, to find somebody you can
talk to - I suppose that's where your girlfriend comes in A. Yeah. She comes - I talk to her about it - I don't know, I find that I can relax after
talking about it. But sometimes I feel that it's something that I just have to sort out on my
Q. Mm, yeah.
A. ... It actually helps to - it sounds stupid, it's just a place, but it's my place, it's where I
go to sort out my problems.
Q. Where's that?
A. I don't know - just up there -
Q. ... Heath.
A. Yeah. But I sit up there on the hill and I get really relaxed and I sort out my problems.
I don't know why, it's only a stupid place, but I do.
Q. No, that's quite nice, I mean I like the idea of - it's like nature or something, there's
nothing else around. Yeah. Well I hope that's gonna work out, I mean it's hard to know
at this point, probably later on... feel better, or what the situation is, I mean actually
having children - had you planned to have children or...?
A. I've always thought that I'd like to have children.
A. Can we change the subject please?
Q. Yeah, certainly. Well let me ask you about AIDS. A lot easier. One of the things that
we're interested in is finding out what young people know about AIDS and how they feel
about it. How - has it affected you at all, have you thought about it?
A. No, I've just thought ... use a condom, make sure he uses a condom. And - well I'm
aware of it but - there - I don't know that much about it, just that if you sleep around a lot
you have the risk of - not if you sleep around, if you don't use anything, you may be
Q. Where did you first hear about it, can you remember?
A. Oh, I don't know, there was a week of it when the TV, news, everything was talking
about it Q. Yeah.
A. - but now it's gradually got slower, not everyone's talking about it, and it's just the odd
- the odd advertisement on the telly or Q. What did you think about those advertising campaigns?
A. I thought they were pretty good.
A. But it was just like one full week of them Q. Yeah, there was a hell of a lot.
A. - and that was it, then it suddenly stopped.
Q. Yeah. There are a few going now in - in newspapers and magazines, there's the one
with the very beautiful young woman where it says, you know, this young woman is HIVinfected, she could look like this in five years' time, and you turn the sheet and she looks
absolutely... Have you seen that one?
A. Yeah. I think I haven't actually. I've seen the one with the bloke though.
Q. Yeah, where as soon as sort of the A. Yeah.
Q. ... But - but do you - I mean what sort of stuff do you know about it, what do you think
it is, AIDS, for example?
A. It's a virus, isn't it, that you can catch just through having sex with someone, nothing
else? You can't get it from drinking from the same glass or anything, or a toilet seat, just
from having sex with someone.
Q. And what about the difference between the virus, which they call HIV virus, or sort of
immune deficiency virus, HIV, and AIDS itself?
Q. Do you see any difference between HIV, the virus, and AIDS?
A. Aren't they the same thing?
Q. Well, not exactly. The virus you can have in you, but you may not necessarily
develop AIDS. AIDS is a sort of set of diseases that you A. Oh, I see.
Q. - catch when your immune system is disturbed by having the virus there. So you
could be HIV-positive and not necessarily A. Not have AIDS.
Q. - develop AIDS, yeah. But it's the virus that's spread, as you said, by sexual activity,
and it's also spread by blood and that sort of thing, if you ... Did you learn anything
about it at school, I mean did they do much about it at school or A. I don't think so.
Q. Not that you know of.
A. Not that I know of. But they might have done it to younger kids, like in their biology
lessons and that.
Q. Some - some - when it first became noticed that the disease existed, people had
various ideas about what the sources of it were. Did you have any idea about that, or
the kind of people that would get it?
A. Well, anyone can get it.
Q. Mm. It's just at the beginning there were sort of ideas that it was a gay plague or
A. No. I find that if you're gay, lesbian, whatever, you're still the same person. I don't
think it makes any difference. I mean - I mean I know people who are gay and lesbian
and I don't think it makes a difference, but they're people, like, if I introduce them to
someone, and they'll be fine with them, and they'll say in conversation something, it
comes up that they're gay, it's like oh, you know, and they'll move away from them, and
I think that - I think that's horrible really, it's really nasty.
Q. Have you got - are many of your friends gay?
A. No, only one person.
Q. Mm, yeah. No, certainly - I mean that was one of the ways that was sort of - the
issue presented, which was probably earlier than when that - that ... stuff... thought of as
being a gay sort of - do you think many of your friends worry about it at all, AIDS?
A. Not really.
Q. It's not really... A. No, not anymore. It was before.
A. But not anymore.
Q. So you don't think they would have changed their behaviour or anything like that?
A. They're not exactly sleeping around much at the moment.
Q. That was another question I was gonna ask you, I mean sometimes when I talk to
young people, especially with schools, they say there are some who are in a group who
do that kind of thing and there are another in a group who don't.
A. There's nothing like that in people that I know. If they've got a boyfriend that they feel
they want to have a sexual relationship with, then they do. If they don't, they don't.
Q. Mm. It's just a personal decision.
Q. The same as it was with you.
Q. Rather hasty from the way you were describing it.
Q. Well, how do you feel now about future relationships, I mean what kind of
relationship would you like to have in the future?
A. I don't know. That's not really a question that I can ask, I mean if it happens it
happens, but I don't know. If a relationship comes along it comes along. I mean I had a
really stupid - I mean after ... the other week ... this stupid relationship with this mad guy
who was working in a place that I'm in, and it was like - we were friends, and then a
friend of ours mutually said, well I think he likes you, do you wanna go out with him, and
I said no, I think of him best as a friend, and I mean when you go places and that and I
see him as a person then I'm not seeing a different kind of person, a person that I can
talk to and get fond of in a different way, and that's how our relationship started, it
wasn't anything sexual. But I felt like - like I was going out with someone, and it was a
sexual relationship and it wasn't.
A. And I did everything.
A. And it was really weird.
Q. Yes. I was gonna ask you about that. We had a question - maybe you noticed on the
questionnaire, we had sort of a list of the types of relationships you could have, and
whether they included sexual intercourse or not, because as you say, I mean a
relationship can be sexual A. ...
Q. - without necessarily including sexual intercourse. I mean it's clearly that type of
Q. What sort of things would you do in that relationship that would make you feel it was?
A. Well we used to like hold hands and get off with each other and that - I don't know,
this wasn't the right thing to do... I don't know what happened in that relationship. Now
he's gone back to COUNTRY or something, 'cos he moves from country to country, he's
that kind of person Q. Yeah.
A. - and he's moved on and that, and that's the way I see it, he just moved on.
Q. Yeah. You wouldn't have minded the relationship continuing had he stayed - or was it
a foregone -?
A. I don't know. But it was just such a sudden kind of relationship to happen. I knew he
was gonna go abroad anyway. So I was ready for it, I'd prepared myself for it already,
that's why I didn't get too hurt.
Q. Yeah, mm. So it's you who made the decision, that was something else I was gonna
ask you, like if you're feeling - I mean that first relationship you talked about where you
both made the decision, a bit speedy sort of thing, whereas this, that second one, it
sounds as if you were having some control over what was happening.
A. I usually do, I'm that kind of a person, I usually hold power over blokes.
A. I don't know why but I do.
Q. How do you think that happens?
A. I think it's just my personality. A bit loud and I tell them what to do and they do it, and
I really feel bold doing things like that, because a bloke is supposed to ask you out, and
you're supposed to do all that in the traditional way, but it never happens to me, never...
Q. Mm. So do you feel in a way that you'll - you'll be deciding what happens in terms of
the sex in your relationships?
A. I don't know, 'cos in the last one it was a mutual decision, we both decided it at the
time, and maybe that's the best way to go about it, you shouldn't ever have a sexual
relationship when one partner doesn't want it, that's something which I think is totally out
of order actually.
Q. Mm, yeah...
A. And whether you wanna go further or not.
Q. Yeah. When - talking about the AIDS issue, there was a lot of stuff during that
publicity campaign, or various publicity campaigns, about safe sex. Did you hear much
A. About condoms, yeah, whether you should - I always think you should use condoms
A. But it's not a definite way of contraception, because it can always burst, whatever,
but it's good against AIDS and other Q. - sexually transmitted diseases. I mean, would you worry, in having sexual
relationships with people, would you be worried about pregnancy A. From now on, yeah. Well, I don't know.
Q. I mean coming ahead of AIDS so to speak...
Q. What about - I mean - one of the questions we're asking young people is about
physical activities in general, I mean do you see sex, I mean sex has been a little bit
risky for you, hasn't it A. Mm.
Q. Did you think of it that way before?
A. No, I had this stupid idea in my head, I don't know why, but it's basically a moment of
your life when bells go off in your head and things like that. At the time, I don't know, it
was just stupid, I mean this is just something you do, it's nothing that important, and I
mean we didn't just do it the once and that and - it was something that we both enjoyed
like we'd both enjoy watching telly, and we enjoyed doing this as well, but - it wasn't like
watching telly, it was different, but it was something nice, we both enjoyed it, we both
felt after we'd actually done it that we were closer than we were before.
Q. Mm, yeah. Were you using condoms then or A. No.
Q. You weren't, never?
A. No. Didn't think of it.
A. Well the first time we didn't think of it, after ...- 'cos it struck me after I got pregnant...
Q. Well - so I mean it's been slightly risky, and you see it as being a bit risky A. What now?
A. The future?
Q. Yeah. I mean apart from - I mean if it's true what they told you about your abortion,
but I mean you don't know...
A. Yeah, but I mean - that's what I mean. I haven't had a sexual relationship since then.
I don't know if I would have one ... in the future.
Q. Yeah, yeah. What about other risky activities in the rest of your life, do you think you
take any - I mean some people think smoking and drinking is risky.
A. Part of my life. Yes, I - I can't really say anything about that. But I mean there's
always a risk to everything, and it sometimes - I don't know why it gives you a buzz, oh
dear, I shouldn't be, you know? Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. - and it's good to have something like that in your life now and again. I know if my
parents caught me smoking, that was it, I'd be dead, but it's something that I do and - I
mean at the moment my parents - our relationship is totally not bad at all, so at the
moment I ...
Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. ... but that's the truth.
Q. But they might react strongly if they found out A. Oh, they would, yeah, they'd hit the roof.
Q. Yeah. What about drugs, do you have any drugs at all?
A. Are you sure I can tell you all about this?
Q. Yes, totally confidential, I should have said that right at the beginning...
A. Yeah, I just take the odd spliff, which gives me a good buzz, and nothing else...
Q. Mm. Do any of your friends?
Q. What kind of things do you do with your friends?
A. We muck around, have a good time. I don't take hard drugs, because I saw what a
friend of mine - going through it, and he didn't recover.
A. Yeah. So - I don't know why but my life is full of tragedies.
Q. Yeah. Sounds it.
A. That's why I wouldn't touch the stuff. I mean, I think it's really bad... so that's why I
see it as - I'm dead against it.
Q. ... Yeah, yeah. What other horrible things then?
A. That's about it.
Q. What - When you say your life seems to be full of tragedies A. It is. I mean, what happened to me a couple of months back, and GAV - I don't know,
everything comes - like a friend of ours buys a motorbike... car accident a couple of
months back, and that was pretty sad, I didn't go to the funeral... that's about it.
Q. Mm. It does sound pretty terrible. What about something more cheerful - what are
you thinking of for the future? I mean, what are you doing now at school?
A. I'm going to...
A. And in September I'm going to either [NAMES OF COLLEGES], but I'll be doing a
B.Tech.... And after that I don't know... straight to work... travel agency or something.
Q. Is that what you A. My ultimate goal is ... but I don't ... 'cos my parents are against it.
A. But I mean if I leave home in a year ... but then again if I leave home, I may not have
the money to ...
Q. Yeah. Would they support you - I mean they would like you to go to university, would
A. They would like me to, but if... totally...
Q. Mm. Have you got any brothers and sisters?
A. I've got a younger sister and a brother. And that's why sometimes I think I can't go,
because what will their life be, ... won't be allowed to go out anywhere, do anything. So
that's why... maybe I can't go.
Q. How much younger are they?
A. ... she's in the third year, and my brother's in the second year.
Q. ... third year...? So you feel a sort of sense of responsibility towards them?
Q. What - I asked you on the questionnaire, what did you say, about what you think
you'll be doing in two years' time? Oh, ... go on to ... ultimate aim... history... Let me ask
you another thing, thinking back to the idea about the - people's sex lives and stuff,
which is about the double standard. When you were talking about your relationship with
your first boyfriend, it involved mutual deciding what you would do, but do you think in
general there's a kind of double standard that expectations of what girls can do and
what boys A. It's a - it's a - a lot of people go by it as well, that a boy should ask a girl out, a girl
can't - but I don't see it, I see what you wanna do, you do it, no one can stop you, but
there are people who listen to it and that and they decide, well, I can't ask him out...
Q. Mm, yeah.
A. Why should you always listen to what everyone else says, do what you want to do all
the time, and that's it.
Q. Yeah. I was thinking of expectations of behaviour as well, I mean it's okay for a - if a
boy has sex but it's not such a good idea if a girl does.
A. I think that's actually changed now, it's not that much anymore, it used to be a couple
of years ago... saying that there are some people who do say, well she - I saw her with
him, so and so, and all this but I think there are people who still accept... and that
people do what they want. If they're enjoying themselves, that's what matters.
Q. What do you think about your friends, I mean are the people that are your closest
friends would agree with you on this or A. Probably not.
Q. Haven't checked them out A. Some would, some wouldn't. Some... some of them wouldn't be, they all have
different, different - what's the word Q. Different ways of thinking about things A. Yeah.
Q. - different ways - yeah, different perceptions of what's going on. Are you meeting
most of your friends in school or out –
A. Some in here, some out of school, some at work. I work in NAME OF SHOP as a
cashier there. I've had a lot of hassle there actually, they think I've been thieving money.
A. Yeah. They thought me and my friend took money... fifty pounds. The thing is they're
luncheon vouchers, so what am I supposed to do with luncheon vouchers...? Apparently
they let my friend off now and said well you couldn't have taken this, so that takes me
off, 'cos they can't say that I've done it as well. But I've lost that kind of trust with them, I
think they've lost it with me, so I'm just gonna look for another job.
Q. Mm. Was that just a Saturday job or Saturday and evenings?
A. Yeah, two nights and Saturday - I've been there two years now.
A. And for them to... on me like that, that really hurt me.
A. I've got an interview at (?) DEPARTMENT STORE tonight actually.
A. I (?) can't take it this year. But now anything like for a full-time job that I can do during
nine, ten weeks ...
Q. Right, yeah... What about - is DEPARTMENT STORE a possibility for a full-time job?
A. No - well there is... but I'd like a couple of jobs where I meet new people and that...
Q. Are the school any help in that kind of thing, finding A. Finding jobs, well, not the school so much, but my careers person in Kentish Town,
they really are good Q. Yeah?
A. They've found me a lot of jobs and that and they've helped me over the last two,
three years with what I was gonna do in the future, and they always seem to point me in
the right direction, so Q. That's the careers office in Kentish Town?
A. Yeah, they've been really good.
Q. Mm. But you haven't had a lot of help from the school particularly or A. Well... they do try but - I don't know, school is school... I don't know why, I don't
Q. ... Let me ask you a question about your image of yourself, you've been talking a lot
about your image of yourself, can you put it together, what is your image of yourself?
A. Oh, I've just been doing this with my students and I couldn't do it,... image of myself.
Just a down tread person I suppose. I mean, this world, the way it's going now, you just
can't - can't just be yourself, and I myself just ... person that gets on with each day as it
Q. What about your friends, I mean how do you think they perceive you, do they have
the same idea A. I don't know... No, I don't know. I get on with all of them and that and they have
arguments with themselves, but I don't have arguments with them... They're just okay.
They see me as I think a normal person... they see me as a lazy person to start, they're
always complaining how lazy I am, that's about it.
Q. Are you lazy?
A. No, I don't see myself as lazy. I just like to sit down a lot, that's all. That's about it.
Q. How about your schoolwork, how's that been going?
A. It's - I'm really surprised 'cos I didn't think I'd done any of it, but I've done more than I
did before, I finished all of it, so it's ready to hand, I've just got to give my portfolio, make
it up today, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... then I've finished.
Q. Then (?) ten weeks off. Not bad.
A. Brilliant. I'm loving it.
Q. Had you taken exams different ways other than this - what were you doing, GCSEs A. GCSEs I did last year.
Q. Yeah. And ... this year.
Q. How did they compare, the A. I thought they were alright, but when you're in the fifth year and you ... exams, I mean
what difference do they make? Like you do it and then afterwards you come out and get
your results and think, oh God, how am I gonna get myself into college now, 'cos I
haven't got the right results, and then you start panicking, then you have a CPE or a
YTS which helps you a little and you can always go back to college afterwards, which is
what happened to me. I got two Cs, two Ds, two Es and one F. I think they're
reasonably okay grades, they're not brilliant, but they're okay, and now I've got a good
CPE profile so I should be alright in the future.
A. ... And I don't like exams. I hate sitting in a room with loads of people trying to work
out sums and things, I can't do it. I think that's why... 'cos the two Cs that I got was in
English, so that was mostly... which I can sit down and do in my own time, I don't feel
I'm being hassled or anything. When there's a two-hour limit period I can't cope, it goes
straight out the window.
Q. That's what I was wondering really, 'cos you have experience of doing it both ways.
'Cos - the exam way, get in, terror, and you go in there and try and pour it all out in a
couple of hours sort of thing, so I wondered - it sounds as if it's much better if you can
do it over a longer period A. It is, it is a lot better ...
A. They let you do - they don't let you do what you like, but you have assignments and
things, you have a date when you have to give it in and that. It's ... like the night before
trying to finish it off. But it's good, I think it's really good, it's a good course, plus ...
Q. Mm. It sounds very promising. I've been interested in that kind of stuff in the last...
what happens in school ... what work ... Did you find that you had - how did you make a
decision that you were going to do the sort of course that you've been doing?
A. Well it's 'cos of my GCSEs weren't that good, I got the results and I thought, oh God,
I can't do A-levels. I think in the back of my mind I didn't want to do A-levels 'cos I knew
I wouldn't be able to commit myself to do that much. College - again, I applied for a
B.Tech. Business and Finance, and in the back of my mind I didn't really wanna do it,
sort of mum and dad were pressuring me to do it, but I really don't wanna do that. And
like my mates were ...GCSEs and that and I thought I don't wanna do that, I've already
done that, I'll probably get the same result, so I thought why not go into this, this is
something new that I don't know much about, sounds okay, and it's over a period that
you get assessed... so I'll go for this.
Q. Yeah. And it's something which was suggested at school as a possibility, yeah. And
where did this idea about being an air - air stewardess come from, have you had that for
long or A. ...
Q. Your secret dream or something.
A. Yeah... plus all my work experience, three weeks at ... Head Office... and they tried to
say, don't be an air stewardess, it's not that good as they make it out to be. I goes to
them, well I know it's hard work and that and I'd be ready to do that, but it'd be the job
satisfaction that I'd get'd be out of this world. I'd love it.
A. 'Cos it's something working with people, which I love, it'd be okay.
Q. Yeah. Cheap travel as well.
A. But the pay for it isn't that good.
A. A lot of drawbacks... really good.
Q. Where would you like to go?
A. I don't know. I don't really like to go to places where there's loads of tourists though, a
place I wanna go - the deep heart of Mexico... like you see in all the Western movies
and things like that.
A. ... I mean like people say I wanna go to Paris and Barbados and like... I mean the
Costa del Sol, it's just like Britain but with a bit more sun really, that's what I think.
Q. Yeah... exotic... Are there any - any questions that you'd like to ask me, about
anything at all but maybe about the AIDS thing as well? I mean, do you feel that you
know enough about the AIDS thing?
A. I think students don't know a lot about it, they just hear something, and they think ...
they don't know the true facts about it.
Q. What do you think would be helpful?
A. If teachers actually like - biology lessons like you have in the third year, it's
compulsory I think, they should actually tell more about it then, but plus, again, ... they
should revise it and in the sixth form they should definitely do it. They should have large
meetings and small groups and tell people about it and make them understand it and
make them aware of it.
Q. More information about it.
Q. I didn't - I didn't ask you whether you had anything about sex education here at
A. I think we had it in a (?) PSE lessons in the second stage here, biology lessons, but
they went into quite good depth about it, I mean I don't think anything came up... - my
girlfriend, she'd told me everything wrong. It was alright. What sex education in the
school, it was quite good...
Q. What, from people that you talked to?
A. Yeah. They explained it pretty thoroughly, you know. But - but - I mean you get to
know a thing anyway, from your mates and that, and you read books about it yourself
and you understand it, or your parents tell you, some of the teachers tell you... but I was
talking to my brother the other day, and he was going, we had sex education at school, I
goes oh, what did you learn, he goes, he goes it's really weird and that, he didn't
understand it; I was going, go back to the teacher and ask again. But they're pretty shy
of going back to the teacher and asking with things like that.
Q. Mm, yes.
A. And the teacher had a really stupid way, like putting any questions you've got into a
box and I'll answer them for you, which I thought was so stupid Q. Did you?
A. How can you - yeah, that's what he did Q. Yeah.
A. - he picked out a letter, a question, said it to the class, then said well, this is the
answer. I thought that was stupid, that's not the way to teach...
Q. No, I mean exactly. That's quite helpful if people want to ask questions but they're
too embarrassed to ask them directly, they can write them down and A. The way they should do it ... three or four people just in a room. But, you know, at
that age they're quite young, aren't they?
Q. Yeah. What about having it... single sex school... What do you think about having
sex education, boys and girls together?
A. A lot more fun. (laugh). No, I think it's okay, 'cos boys do the same, exactly the same
thing as girls, so it's good that they should know about each other's bodies.
A. That's what I think anyway. But some people say they wouldn't like it ... embarrassed
in front of a boy. I mean, I don't, but I can understand their feelings about it, you know.
Q. Mm, I think some people do, yeah. And I suppose sometimes they think they
wouldn't be able to ask the questions they wanted to ask. I suppose ideally you'd have
separate and then together so you could sort of do the things you'd be embarrassed at
separately and then exchange a bit of information together.
Q. Well I suppose they've got set ideas about the way certain things should be taught.
A. Yeah, set ideas, they never seem to change them though. They always have these
set ideas... especially the older teachers.
A. The younger teachers... they're fine, they understand us and that, but you get some
Q. So you think they've got some very definite ideas about A. Yeah, I mean just, you know, the kind of varied attitude to what kids are doing at the
moment, and what they think is right and what the teacher should tell them and that, but
teachers have this set - some older teachers, not younger ones, older teachers have a
set idea that you're supposed to do this and you're supposed to do that. I mean ... that I
went to when I was about second year, third year, ... pick the options to know what you
wanna do, that I wanted a (?) CVT and I wanted to be an engineer or something, but
this old rotten bag kept telling me no, boys do those kind of things, you must pick
something more your style. But when I came back like I'd changed my mind anyway. So
- but it was her attitude was really bad.
Q. Yeah, yeah. What do you think might have happened if you'd decided to stick it out,
A. Well, I'd have enjoyed it, ... get one back at her. Couldn't let her...
Q. Yeah. Do many girls do (?) CVT here or is it A. I think they do, yeah, they do now.
Q. But you just hit one discouraging teacher A. Yeah. She was an old teacher, I think that was why. She didn't think a girl should be
Q. Mm, yeah.
A. But when it's a single sex school so why have CVT teachers in there if you don't want
them to carry on? That's what I thought...
Q. So how do you feel in the end, I mean how do you feel now. I mean you talked A. About what?
Q. ... a bit down 'cos of bad things that happened to you. What do you think about the
A. No more bad things are gonna happen to me. I'm just gonna leave home, get... but
then again I can't 'cos I always think, what about my brother and sister?
Q. Yeah. What about them as well? I mean you might be having a bad relationship with
them now, but what...
A. ... I might have to stick it out... For now I can, but I will have to... But school,
education-wise I'm fixed, I'm fine, you know. My relationship... That's about it. There's
not much you can say about the future, I just let each day as it comes. Maybe I'll meet
someone tomorrow, I don't know. But at the moment I really don't wanna meet anyone Q. Yeah.
A. - 'cos it would just be one thing in my life that would add on to all the others that I've
got... I don't need any hassle... hassle... I think that, it's just another person...
A. But I mean some of them can be a great laugh, yeah, but some, I don't know. Once I
really like a bloke, yeah, I really want to - I really want to get to know him and that. And
you've got him and you think, I don't want you any more, I've got you now, you know. I
don't know why I've got that kind of attitude to boys, sometimes I have.
Q. What about if they play hard to get, do you go for them more if they're hard to get or A. Yeah Q. - like a challenge A. Yeah, it's like a challenge Q. Yeah.
A. You know, so... But I don't know, I think I've grown out of that now.
A. It's like when you're about fifteen, sixteen you think... can't go around like that.
Q. I don't think that necessarily stops with that kind of relationship.
A. You know, but no, but I'm gonna stop that. I may be looking for - I don't really want a
serious relationship, maybe that kind of relationship which goes on but is nothing too
A. But if it comes along, it comes along, if it doesn't, it doesn't.
Q. Do you think the problems come when the sex comes in?
A. Well that's Q. ...
A. ... mutual decision. You don't have to do it, if you wanna do it, you do it.
Q. So it's not so much... I mean it's not so much them telling you what to do, because
you tell them what to do.
A. I tell them straight away Q. Yeah.
A. - ... If you want it you can go away... I tell them straight, I don't see why I should, just
because I'm a girl, back down...
Q. How have they been reacting? I mean do you have many boyfriends...?
A. But I mean, I don't just go out with boys because my mate's going out with a boy, so I
have to have a boyfriend... If I like the boy and he likes me then we go out. So he's got
to try and understand, you know, my parents have a lot of say, 'cos they don't know that
I smoke, drink, go out with boys or anything, so they have to understand that sometimes
I can't go out.
Q. Mm. So you do - I mean you fit it around your family...
A. In a way I hate it, but I can't... 'cos of my brother and sister... And it feels like I'm
setting my life aside while they grow up a bit older and have it easy and I don't. And I
don't know whether that's right or wrong and whether I should stay or I shouldn't.
A. I'm trying to sort it out.
Q. Being the first one is always a bit tough, isn't it, I was... you know, you're forging
ahead and getting permission to wear stockings instead of socks, or whatever it was in
my day, and your sister who's years younger is doing it the next week...
A. Mm. It's difficult really 'cos my mum's the youngest and my dad was the oldest and
they don't seem to know that if you're the youngest... They seem to, like, forget
everything. And I hope - I hope to God that... kids... I think watching a child grow is
fundamental, watching them grow from a child to a young adult and then... I don't know,
it's really weird. I've got weird feelings on things like that, I think, really weird feelings.
Why is - why is the grass green... why does the world go round, why does the sun go
round or whatever... Why do we have night and day? I don't believe in God –
A. I mean, if there was God why does he let bad things happen ...
Q. ... What about your religion, is it not really A. ...
Q. Just a sort of social thing, is it, really.
A. Mm, I mean I must admit I love (?) wearing traditional clothes, I love that ... silk and
that... I won't ever forget my beliefs of my life, religion, what my parents hold... I think
there's a kind of - you become - ... I won't forget that I am Indian and that but, I don't
know, it maybe is the person that I am, that I've been too westernised and that, I
probably see things differently...
A. ... I don't understand like... swear... and she'll swear to me in (?) Greek and not
Q. Don't you think you can be - teach someone both?
A. Teach them what?
Q. Teach someone both the...
A. I am actually... I am pretty (?) mixed and it's a mix that's nice but shouldn't be there
(unclear) or shouldn't ... one or the other, 'cos you get too influenced in either way. I
mean I... forget about it...
Q. Thank you very much for talking, I'm very grateful. What we were thinking maybe well, two things we were thinking of, one was to see whether people would be interested
in keeping a diary for us for a little while, maybe a couple of months A. I can't do that Q. No?
17,7; Indian; lives with ma,pa and younger bro and sis; Ma - FT [TEXTILES
ROLE]; Pa [TRANSPORT ROLE]. JH18 works 15 hours in supermarket, Sat and
2 evenings; sikh; heterosexual; no boyfriend now but has had a couple.
This young woman had arrived with another earlier, wanting to be interviewed
together, SFS persuaded them separately, and said a bit about what we would
talk about. So she came back later (to be interviewed by JH) but saying that she
could not stay long, had lots to do, had to get away. In fact she stayed about 45
minutes, but I may have been slightly affected by the thought that she wanted to
run away and rushed some of the interview a bit. She did seem to speak openly,
but I feel there were things hidden behind what she was saying which I did not
Very attractive Indian young woman, westernised (too much so perhaps in her
view) wearing jeans and T shirt, hair long but drawn back. Most important
relationship is with a best and very close friend, but very soon mentioned that
she had had an abortion. Apparently she has told no-one, but this friend, not
parents (who would go mad, would go mad if they knew she smoked and drank)
not school. She felt she had to deal with it herself. She told the boy some time
afterwards and he felt he should have been involved, but in her view it was not a
relationship which warranted that, it was up to her to decide what to do. They got
'carried away' although it was a 'mutual decision', and she would not do anything
she did not want to do. But she did not particularly want to continue a relationship
with him. She said they did not use contraception the first time but did
subsequently. She had a subsequent relationship, but I don't think it included
sex. He was going away ([EUROPEAN COUNTRY] I think, he travels around
'he's that type') so she did not want to get too involved. She said that she was
told that she might not be able to have children, the abortion had gone wrong,
and that bothered her. She said she had been looking at little children and babies
and wondering what would happen to her. She wants to have a relationship, but
not right now, too much on her plate, and can't face it, but if it happens it
happens. She 'takes things as they come'. She seems to have handled all this
herself, with only her friend, whom she trusts, to talk to about it. After we had
talked about the abortion for a while, she said could we change the subject. We
went on to AIDS.
She has a very bad relationship with her parents in her view and would like to
leave home as soon as possible, but mentioned a couple of times worrying about
what would happen to her younger sibs. The parents come down hard on her,
will not let her go out, they would be worse with the others if she left home. I think
she is ambivalent here, bcs I think on the face it, apart from the westernised bit,
probably does a lot of what they say, or at least looks as if she does from their
perspective, whilst secretly doing other things. She does smoke dope (she was a
bit worried about telling me this, said is it ok to tell me, I said entirely
confidential), but would not touch anything stronger. Some of her friends do.
She did not do too well in her GCSE she thinks (she got several) and is just
finishing CPVE of which she thinks highly, and going on to college to do a BTEC.
She wants to work in travel and tourism, but her greatest wish is to be an air
hostess. For the travel, thinks the pay is not too good.
She felt that she was confident in sexual relationships, that she could decide
what would happen.
There was something about being suspected of stealing at [NAME OF SHOP],
the supermarket where she works. She and a friend were thought to have taken
about £450 worth of luncheon vouchers. "What's the point, they are all signed".
She felt let down by the store, who have now dropped the accusation about her
friend, so she assumes that applies to her too. She is trying for a job in
[DEPARTMENT STORE] instead, will leave [NAME OF SHOP]. (I'm not too sure
what was actually going on here, what really happened.)
She feels that bad things have happened to her, the abortion, a friend died in a
car crash, and I think one through drugs, but she feels fairly optimistic about the
[She also, like LJH19, talked about 'getting off' on the partner with whom she had
not had sex. In a sort of 'doesn't everybody?' way.]
LJH 18 Lucinda
Second interview 29.6.1990
Q: ... see how it compares. Well, you did say that you were gonna do the
B.Tech., that that's what you wanted to do. So what, you left school - were you
leaving school last year?
A: Yeah. Yeah, I was. I was going to leave.
Q: And you have two years in college?
A: Yeah, two years. I finish up next June sometime. About this time.
Q: So how is it, I mean what's A: Oh, it's really good, it's - the course is different modules and that and it's really
good fun. I mean, the people there are quite nice as well. And it's totally different
from school. At school you were a child or something, you know, but here you're
a young adult and you're treated like one as well.
Q: You prefer that, do you?
Q: Yeah. Do you still keep up with your friends that you went to school with?
A: Yes, I mean, my mates like MEGAN, GRACE, I still see them, we regularly
see each other. Every four weeks we always go round each other’s houses,
have a chat.
Q: What about new friends, have you made any new friends?
A: Yeah, I have. Like the whole group, we all get on really well, and there's a
bunch of first years starting 'cos it's the first time the B Tech's been started up in
Westminster... so we're gonna have to train them up as well. So I'm meeting a lot
more people as well.
Q: Yeah. Do you do any sort of placement stuff, do you actually go and A: Yeah, I went to HOLIDAY AGENCY.
A: Yeah. It was really good fun.
Q: What did you do, what did you have to do?
Q: What does that consist of?
A: Telephoning up people, use the typewriter, use the computers, Prestel generally working in an office. What else do you do? - I booked a couple of
Q: How long were you there for?
A: Four weeks.
Q: Oh, gosh.
A: Oh, and I was helping the reps go out as well. That was good fun.
Q: Yeah. What about getting actual trips? That would be what would interest me.
A: No. (laugh). ...didn't let me go on any trips. But I went to Germany with the
college Q: Yeah.
A: - for a week. That was quite good, it was residential. I don't know... next year.
Q: Sounds quite good then. Is it what you expected?
A: Yeah. I thought it would be something like that, yeah.
Q: So what's your ambition now?
A: I don't know.
A: At the moment I haven't come to any decision. Whereas next year I go back
to college, and after that I don't know. I don't know if I really wanna go into
education anymore. Before I wanted to go a bit deeper but I don't know if I really
want to now.
Q: Mm. See how it goes next year, I suppose.
A: Mm. See what my results are like, 'cos it's basically on that really.
Q: How do you think you've done?
A: I think so far I've done okay. Not brilliant but - I know I haven't done as much
as I could have done, but it's alright. It's average. I know I could have tried
Q: Yeah? What was making you not try to hard?
A: I'm bored. I'm really bored. I don't know, loads of things, I'm really generally
bored. There's got to be something a bit more - something out there that I've got
to do, 'cos at the moment I'm really bored with everything.
Q: Yeah. What are the things are you're bored with?
A: I don't know. Boys?
A: All males, you know, I'm bored with them. Don't wanna know.
A: No. Family, they're getting me down. Everything generally. Anything I'm doing,
I'm pretty bored with it.
Q: I wonder why.
A: I don't know. I really - I mean, I sit down and I try to think of it, why, why am I
feeling like this? And I can't think of any particular reason why I feel like this, but I
know that there's something more for me to do, there's something else just
Q: Yeah. Yeah.
A: Just got to reach out and grab it.
Q: You haven't quite figured A: - what it is. No.
Q: Yeah. But are you exposing yourself to different things to find out, are you
A: Yeah, I'm doing - like I've started a club at college, photography, a couple of
months ago Q: Yeah.
A: I really like that.
A: Quite good. But - I don't know. I haven't felt it yet.
Q: Something will come.
A: Mm, something's got to come.
Q: But what about boys, has there been any boys since last year? Last year you
weren't particularly - you'd just been in a relationship with a guy who'd gone off
to EUROPEAN COUNTRY, I think it was.
A: Oh, him, yeah. I had a postcard from him actually a little while ago.
A: Then I met GREG. We went out with each other from the summer onwards,
and finished about October. He was a bloody waste of time.
Q: Was he?
A: He was really nice to me and he was going, "oh, I love you", and I said to him,
"I'm sorry, but I can't say I love you 'cos I don't feel anything for you". I said, "I
like you". But he was a two-timing so and so.
Q: Was he?
A: 'Cos he went out one night, and I wasn't going out, 'cos my mum wasn't well,
so I said look, I'm gonna stay at home and look after my mum. So he said alright.
And he found another bird at this party, and he took her home and everything. I
was so angry. And I got in - I met him in a pub the following night. I tell you, I had
a pint of cider and I wasted all that cider over him.
A: I should have drunk it. He wasn't worth it.
Q: How did you find out, then, did he tell you or A: He phoned up the next day and said that's what he'd done. He said, "I'm really
sorry but I don't know why I did it". I goes, well - and he goes, "'cos I know what
you'll do", he goes, "I know I'll never see you again". I goes, "you're bloody right,
you ain't gonna see me ever again". And I haven't. And once when I did see him
actually, down Brent Cross, and I was walking down and he just saw me ... like
that, and he just turned and went the other way and I turned and went the other
way myself. 'Cos I just don't wanna know. But because he was one of my good
mates' brother, now me and MEGAN don't talk either. I mean, I said to her - I
goes, "I know things will change between us, and I don't want them to but I know
they will, 'cos they always do", and she goes, "yeah, well, we'll just try". She's a
bit (?)negative most anyway. She didn't believe it, she said "oh, no, we'll be
friends forever". But 'course, it never works out like that, 'cos family - blood's
thicker than water.
Q: But that was - that was after quite a few months, it must have been.
A: Yeah, that was after a while and then - ... some guy for a week, but forget
that, that was just stupid. But other than that, no.
Q: Was the relationship with GREG a sexual relationship?
A: I don't know. It was a bit of both really.
Q: Mm. What, friendship as well?
A: Yeah. 'Cos we were friends, we were very good friends before. And then he
asked me out but - and it was good while it was going on. In the early time it was
good, and towards the end I was getting bored again. But I didn't say nothing,
'cos I thought, oh well, maybe it'll go like it was... later on. But as the summer
stopped, you know, I wanted to move on again. But he was a bit before me
really. But - in a way I was hurt, but in a way I was thinking, that's alright, it's an
easy way for me to get out of the relationship.
Q: Yeah. I mean, it sounded a bit like that, the way you were describing him, I
A: It's easy to get out of it like that.
Q: Yeah. So had you actually had sex with him?
Q: How was it? Any good?
A: Not really.
A: He wasn't - he's not that kind of person. He's a bit shy and that, and I had to
like bring him out a bit and... It just wasn't worth it.
Q: What, so you didn't enjoy it much?
A: Not really.
Q: Was he - was he the same age as you or A: He was eighteen. No, nineteen.
Q: ... older. Was he inexperienced, then, I mean had he A: I think so. He must have been. But it was like, before when we were friends
he was always saying, "oh, I had this old woman last night, oh, she was so
good", you know, "I had this twenty-eight year old last night and she was so
good, she was so big". You know, I used to think, yeah, it's true, you know, 'cos I
was his friend. But it couldn't have been. He must have been... he must have
been doing something else and saying something else.
Q: Did he used to say that to you when he was a friend rather than when he was
A: Yeah, when he was my friend... But - did I tell you last night about the twentyeight year old guy?
Q: Well, you told me about A: BEN.
Q: - you hadn't mentioned a name. There was a guy who you didn't - you weren't
particularly fond of and you got pregnant. Is that him?
A: No, no.
Q: That was another. No, you didn't tell me about BEN, tell me about BEN
A: Oh, my God. Twenty-eight year old guy with a child and everything Q: Yeah?
A: ... with him. That's about it, I think. It's not much, is it, after a year?
Q: Well, also I mean it's not that - I mean, like you were saying last year, that you
- what comes up comes up sort of. What about this BEN, how did you meet him?
A: He was a friend of a friend, we met at a party. He was alright. He was a
different kind of guy. I mean, he was totally different than the people that I'd met
before 'cos he was older. He - I don't know, he was different. He had something
about him which was different and I was - I mean, first of all we agreed to be
really good friends, and we never did anything sexual anyway. We were just
such good friends. But - I don't know, I think I cared for him a lot more than any
of the other relationships that I've ever had. He was really good to me.
Q: Had you wanted it to be a sexual relationship? Did you feel you wanted to at
A: At the time I thought, you know, I do love you and all this business, and I want
it to be sexual, but now I'm glad it wasn't. 'Cos if - 'cos I still see him now and
again now, and we still have that same thing. And he's always - he's always
saying to me as well, "if something had been different, if I had been maybe
younger", maybe he hadn't met his first girlfriend who he's got a child by, "I
would have taken you forever". But he goes, "now I can't. 'Cos you're young,
you've got your whole life ahead of you".
A: I can't say much about that, I mean - he was right.
Q: He decided then that there wasn't A: There wasn't any choice. And afterwards, now I think he was right. It probably
wouldn't have worked anyway.
Q: But were you upset at the time?
A: Mm, I was very upset.
Q: Yeah, it is upsetting. And you think that that was the fact that it wasn't sexual,
made it easier for you to handle A: Yeah.
Q: That's often the case, isn't it, that it's some sort of - being - having sex with a
person changes the nature of the A: Yeah, it becomes a bit more deeper. This way it wasn't so deep. It was deep
but it wasn't so deep.
Q: Mm. So had you felt that with GREG as well, that you were - when it became
sexual it changed into something deeper?
A: It didn't change with him.
A: It just - just went along the same. I don't know, I just shouldn't have gone out
with that guy.
A: You know. ... silly thing to do. 'Cos we went out first of all - he was really ill.
This was when I was doing work experience at [AIRLINE] - yeah, me and
MEGAN went to see him 'cos he was really ill. And he said, come to the cinema
with me tomorrow. I goes, "but you're ill, how can we go to the cinema?" He
goes, "oh, I'll get better, don't worry about it". So we went to the cinema and
blah, blah, you know, we got off with each other in the cinema and that, and it
was okay, we went to the pub for a drink. Then MEGAN come along, all three of
us drinking. Then we got the bus home, and he - what did he do? He just held
me funny, and I thought, "oh, he wants a bit more out of this", you know, from his
body language I could tell. And MEGAN goes, "he seems like a nice guy". And I
thought, maybe he is - you know, I'd known him for quite a while, for about
six/seven months beforehand. I thought to myself, "yeah". So I went out with
him. I should never have done it.
Q: Mm. I was interested, because it was like - I was trying to think of the
difference - it's like people who you really get involved with, I mean with or
without sex sort of thing, and people who you don't, and it - with or without sex.
And the difference is the degree of caring somehow, isn't it?
A: There is. I think there is.
A: But, I don't know, with GREG, nothing - oh, that's just part of my life that I just
wanna forget, 'cos he was a waste of time. And it's like MEGAN says to me, "do
you remember when you went out with GREG, what you were doing?", I said,
"just don't remind me", you know...
Q: And when you - when you say - I mean when you talk about sex, do you think
of it as being sexual intercourse sort of thing, or do you think of anything else
A: No, sexual intercourse.
Q: Yeah. Because I mean - you say the relationship with BEN, it became very
close and so forth, but it didn't have sexual intercourse.
A: Mm. But it was a very loving kind of thing.
Q: Yeah. So did you do other things apart from sexual intercourse?
A: No. Oh, yeah, we'd kiss and cuddle and things like that but nothing else.
Anyway, I'm quite glad of that, actually.
Q: Mm, as you said. I was just thinking, like it's - are those other things sexual or
not sort of thing? I mean, did you do other things with GREG before you actually
had sexual intercourse?
A: We kissed and cuddled as well, nothing else.
Q: What about the sex itself, I mean what kind of things did you do when you
were having sex?
A: Straightforward. He wasn't very adventurous. He wasn't at all adventurous,
you know, he'd just lie on the bed and that was it. And that's why I think I got
bored, 'cos I'm not that kind of type of person. I'm adventurous anyway, so he
didn't satisfy me at all. I mean I faked it so that he would think "I'm doing the right
thing", you know, and it worked, I mean he (?)thought he was doing fine. 'Cos he
went back to - he was mates with BEN - 'cos we used to hang around in one big
group, and he knew BEN, and now he's working with BEN... And he went back to
him - 'cos he doesn't know about me and BEN - but he went back to him and
said "oh, me and her had a really good time..." like that; and like BEN's looking at
him funny, he's thinking, "what you talking about?", you know, "'cos you didn't do
anything to her anyway". He was saying, "oh, yeah, she really loved it last night"
and he was thinking - and BEN went away and told me. Then when we broke up,
he was going, "oh, (?)LUCINDA was just no good, she was just absolutely
pathetic". And BEN just whacked him one and said, "look, LUCINDA's a really
nice girl and what you're saying about her isn't right, and you know it's not right
'cos she wasn't like that at all". And GREG got a bit suspicious at "why is it he's
doing all this business?". But now it's all blown over so it's alright. But GREG
thinks something happened but he's got no proof. I haven't seen BEN now for
about three, four months. Since GREG started working up there I haven't been
up there either.
Q: Mm. Do you think that's - that's usual, for, you know, young men to go around
talking to others about what's been happening between them and their girlfriend?
A: Well, when I was at school it seemed the in thing for boys to do Q: Yeah.
A: - but now I'm at college, they say - they say the same thing, "oh, I went to bed
with this girl last night", but it's different, because they don't say it was good or it
was bad, they say it was loving and "I really wanted to make her feel happy". It's
a different kind of thing now, what they're saying.
Q: Mm. Do you think that's their age?
A: It could be, but I mean they're still the same age. He's like eighteen and
GREG was eighteen.
Q: Yeah, true.
A: But then what a twenty-four year old - I mean, I was listening to a twenty-four
year old, and he was saying the same thing as what GREG was saying. So I
don't think age really comes into it. I think it's the maturity of a person.
Q: Yeah. Yeah. I suppose I was thinking... and also maybe it's to do with, if
you're in a crowd at school who are all doing that, or saying that A: Yeah.
Q: - then you get hooked into doing it yourself somehow. But then you said, you
know, you would fake it with GREG to make him feel okay.
Q: Why - why did you feel you should do that?
A: I don't know (laugh). But he just - I had this mind, thing in my mind, if I faked it
he would feel better so that if ... someone did say anything to him, or anything
like that, he'd be able to say, "yeah", or he would be - his own ego would be
happy enough to say to himself, "I did alright". 'Cos I know that he's shy and I
wanted to bring him out, 'cos I could see a person underneath him which is a
loving caring person, but - he's just a sod, he would...
Q: Yeah. Do you think there really was a loving caring person hiding in there sort
A: I don't know, and I don't ever wanna find out. I mean I probably will sometime,
'cos it's bound to get back to me, oh, you know, but I don't ever wanna find out.
Q: What kind of things do you think you do want in a relationship now?
A: Someone like BEN? (laugh) No Q: ...
A: A bit of BEN but - I really don't know. I think I haven't had the experience yet
to find out everything just yet, and... carry on working about it. About
Q: What about long - long-term, do you think that you might get married or
something like that or - not even thinking about that yet?
A: Well, my mum and dad are pressuring me now, 'cos of arranged marriages.
A: There's that... they're saying like, "you've got another two or three years and
that's it, I'm marrying you off". And like they've just started now. So I don't know.
But I know that during - in the next ten, maybe seven years, I will be married and
probably be pregnant. In which - I think, you know, it's alright actually, for me
myself as a person I think that's gonna be alright. Because I don't wanna because I'm scared of having a baby anyway, 'cos of what happened last time.
See, if I have it early on in life, maybe it won't be so hard on me anyway, instead
of having it later on.
Q: Do you think that - I mean, how would you feel if your parents sort of insisted
that they'd find somebody for you?
A: Well, in a way my parents are alright, they're more westernised than they are
Indian Q: Yeah.
A: - and they've said to me look, if you see - if we... wedding - 'cos they've told
me "you have to marry an Indian guy, he's got to be the same caste, he's got to
be someone like us"; I said, "yeah, that's what I want as well. I want someone
who is coming from a larger family into ours, and I'm going into a family where
he's got brothers and sisters, I can go round with him, you know, and have latch onto another family as well." They said, "that's good, 'cos that's what we
want for you as well", 'cos the bigger a family is - it's better that way. The family
unit as I feel it now, is really important. And - what was I saying?
Q: You said it's okay that your parents want you to marry somebody who's...
same caste and so forth... agree...
A: Oh, yeah, which I agreed to as well. And they've said like if we go to a
wedding and you see someone you like, then we'll talk about it, see what he's
like as a person. And like we'll have to go out - like me and him - first of all, like
what they do is they have like sit around like here and then we have a cup of tea
or something, and see how it goes. If we both look at each other and see that
we're alright, we like each other, then maybe with a chaperone we'll go out for
dinner or something. Spend an afternoon together, and if we really like each
other, then plans will begin.
Q: Mm. And do you think that's okay?
A: Well, I know it's gonna be done so I don't really have a say in the matter
A: In a way it's good, in a way it's not so good. I don't know.
Q: What about the relationships you're having now, are they with Indians and
non- A: No, they're mixed. MO was Indian but the rest have been all types. BEN was
black, GREG was Greek.
Q: What about your parents, do they know about the relationships that you
A: No. To them I'm - I am an eighteen year old, so sweet, so kind, so lovely little
girl, and that's about it, that's all they know about me. They don't know anything
else about me. I mean, it's bad to know that your parents don't even know the
kind of person you are, but I know they wouldn't agree to me being the person
that I am.
Q: Do you - is it like this - I mean, basically you're accepting the way that they
want you to be, at some level, isn't it?
A: Yeah, 'cos it doesn't bring up family resentment or anything like that. It keeps
them happy, so as long as it keeps them happy I'll do it for them.
Q: Mm. And in the meantime you're sort of experimenting with finding yourself,
without them knowing what it is.
A: Yeah, yeah. So that if something goes wrong, I know "you're to blame, you've
done it wrong, you should have done it this way", and I just go out there again
and do it again, in a way that I feel is - could be right. And if it doesn't go right
then I'll just try again. As far as I'm concerned, you have one life to live and if you
miss it, that's it, you've passed on.
Q: How - how are you feeling about the abortion now? I mean it was very close
in time to when we spoke. Last June.
A: I haven't forgotten about it, it's always in my mind. But I know that I have to
learn to forget, to carry on with what I'm doing now. Otherwise I'll always stay
back in that time and I won't be able to go into the future. It's like - we've been
talking again, I would have had the baby now; where could we have (?)met,
where would I have been now? Bed and breakfast, out on the streets. I don't
Q: Yeah, yeah.
A: So maybe it's best this way.
Q: Well, it probably is the right decision to make. But I felt at the time you were
doing it so alone, you know, without any other support and it was incredibly
A: Yeah, I - I still feel I am that kind of person who will always be on my own. I
mean I probably will get married and have kids, but there'll be a part of me which
will always be back here, to that time last year, on my own.
A: ...myself. I see myself as being a person that likes to be on their own and do
things on their own, but I know I can't; I've got to change, I've got to become part
of a group.
Q: Mm. But you're giving yourself this bit of space beforehand.
A: Yeah. Is it alright if I smoke or Q: Yeah, sure.
A: Do you?
Q: No, I don't, thanks. There's a packet over there that somebody else left
behind. So quite a lot's been happening to you really, since you left school,
hasn't it? How do you feel about it, do you feel comfortable in yourself or - apart
from being bored with everything right now?
A: What, with life?
Q: Mm. And what you're doing and everything.
A: I think everything's gone right for me so far. I think I've been alright. I don't
know if I want something to happen right now. Don't know if I want a relationship
right now or something to just come into my life, but it's all flowing in one line at
the moment; and maybe that's why I'm bored and I need things to go up and
down and job me about a bit.
Q: Mm, yeah. That's in a way why I was asking, are you doing anything to get
that to happen? Because you can kind of wait for something to happen, it may
never happen A: It may never happen. I try but nothing happens. I mean I've got this job in
Marble Arch, 'cos I've stopped working at [DEPARTMENT STORE] Q: Oh, yeah, you were just about - you were gonna be interviewed last year
when I spoke to you, yeah. So you have got the job at [DEPARTMENT STORE]?
A: Yeah, I got the job. And it worked out. It's alright. It's only a temporary job, I
finished at Christmas. And they didn't keep me on so I went - I was out of a job
for about two or three months, and I got this one in March, April, something like
that. And it's good, I really enjoy it. It's up in Marble Arch so it's away from
everything. It's totally different. The people are different, ... from all different
islands, Scotland, all different kinds of people, different personalities from what
I've known before. They're all older, younger.
Q: ... cat?
A: No, neighbour’s cats. And - it's interesting.
Q: What sort of job is it?
A: It's just like - you know, like if you go down Marble Arch there's these little
boutiques and that? It's in [FASHION STORE].
Q: Oh, yeah.
A: And that sells bags mainly.
A: And it's different. I like that. Is the smoke going in your face?
Q: A bit. It's okay.
A: ... over here. Is that alright?
Q: Yeah. That's a Saturday and evening job...?
A: No, this is just Saturdays.
A: But over the summer I'll probably be working full-time. 'Cos I got a job in a
travel agency. They pay me £75 a week. The money's just not enough.
Q: Yeah. It's much better in the bag shop?
Q: Well, that's a shame, because it might be a nice experience to do the travel
agency work in the summer.
A: Yeah. But the thing is, I'm learning it all at college, so there's no point.
Q: Mm. Just get to put it into practice a bit.
A: Yeah. But you get - anywhere you can get a job in a travel agency...
A: But I wanna go into something like - maybe tour operators.
A: And in the end, maybe I wanna open my own business.
Q: That would be sensible.
A: Mm. But I don't know. ...businesses... taxes...
Q: Then how will it fit in with your other plans? I mean, you'd have to do it fairly
fast if - to fit it in.
A: Oh, yeah, I might be going to America next year.
A: 'Cos my FAMILY MEMBER’s emigrating to AMERICA, and the way she
described it, she went over there two weeks ago, she was (?)[SKILLED JOB
ROLE], and just waiting for her green card to come through...
Q: ... What, sort of you'd go and visit or A: Well, the thing is, I can't go for a year 'cos I'm a British citizen, they won't let
me stay there anyway Q: Yeah.
A: - but go there for about four months, get myself a really good job so they'll say
that "we need you here, you can't go back to England"; so they'll say that to the
Home Office, whatever they do over there Q: Yeah.
A: - and get me to stay. Or I'd have to marry someone over there.
Q: What do you think of that for an idea? - both bits of it.
A: I don't know about marriage but I mean... have to see how it works out really.
Q: But do you fancy that, living in the States?
A: ... the thing is, it's so different, to get up and just leave totally, my family, my
friends. If I have to do that then I have to do that.
Q: Mm. But if you just went for four months, I mean you wouldn't be cutting off all
your options really, would you?
A: Yeah, that's what I mean, I mean I'm probably going for the summer anyway.
A: The whole family. Have a look at what life is like out there, if I like it fine, if I
don't, come back here.
Q: Yeah. That's a big opportunity, isn't it?
A: But I mean, everybody says to me, that's an opportunity you can't really miss
out on, you have to go for it, and do it when you're young as well.
Q: Yeah. Well, at least check it out. I always used to have that idea about
America, "I'd better get out there and see what it's like before it sinks" (laugh),
'cos it always seems to be on the brink of disaster. But is - I mean, it's quite
different from here. It's quite a long time ago that I was there, living in
Philadelphia and New York. Yeah, it was quite... really - well, New York is, but
Philadelphia not so much. Philadelphia... W.C. Fields sort of said something like,
"I'd rather be dead than in Philadelphia" (laugh).
A: Oh, no.
Q: It's supposed to be very boring, but in fact it was okay, it wasn't too bad. ... I
mean, there were some interesting things going on there, but I think they've got they're a bit self-conscious, because it's fairly near New York and they sort of
feel in comparison it's not got a lot to offer. And I just...Los Angeles very, very
briefly at the end, just to pick up the plane... it was smoggy, you know, it was
being typically Los Angeles A: Yeah.
Q: - and also we got lost on the motorways because they're so complicated, so that was my memory of Los Angeles. But it's - I mean, the weather out there is
fantastic, apart from the smog of course...
A: That's what I mean, like go over there and if I like AMERICA, I mean you don't
have to stay in one place anyway... move around till you find the perfect place for
you. I've got a RELATIVE in Canada as well... on my own to Australia.
A: ... to Australia. But I'm gonna do something in the next year, I have to do
Q: Something dramatic. Yeah. And you said the whole family might go out for the
summer, and they might consider going out there.
A: 'Cos - when my FAMILY MEMBER said she was going, my dad seriously for a
week thought about it. But then he said no. You know, he loves London, he was
born and bred in London Q: Yeah.
A: And he said... And I'm like that as well, I love London. You can only stay so
long in one place.
Q: But it would be exciting to go out there for the summer, it would be great.
A: Yeah. So that's... 'Cos I haven't been on holiday now for about four, five
Q: Why's that? Too busy?
A: I don't know [COMPLEX FAMILY DETAILS] I don't know... back to India...
Q: Did you go on holiday there before then?
A: Yeah, that was the last time I went there.
Q: Yeah. How do you find it out there?
A: 'Cos we've got a house in the country. (?)Servants and everything. It's an
easy life over there. I don't know, for a while I just thought, well going over there
and doing something for the people - I don't know... It's all in the back of my
mind, but I don't think so.
Q: Yeah. Yeah.
A: 'Cos I know this family who went out there, and they're all doctors, and they
opened up this place, a clinic for pregnant mothers, 'cos they have a lot of
stillbirths and unborn babies, things like that Q: Yeah.
A: - and I thought, you know, get into something like that. And doctors over there
are terrible, just give you the same medicine for anything... people, do something
Q: You've got a lot of possibilities that you've been thinking about. Well, you're
still young, you can still do many of these things, can't you? But you think
ultimately in seven years' time you're gonna be married?
A: Yeah. I don't know... my family has got that in for me. I know it's gonna
happen, within the next couple of years anyway. It's bound to happen. But I think
in a way I want it to happen as well. I like the idea of a family unit.
Q: Yeah. What you were saying before. You were saying as well that you were
adventurous. Last time you were saying you sort of quite like doing risky things
somehow. I mean, do you still feel like that?
A: I still do risky things.
Q: Do you, what do you do?
A: Climb out the window at night and go out with my friends when I'm not
supposed to Q: Yeah?
A: Yeah. Done that a couple of times. I haven't got caught yet. I don't know
though. If I get caught I know... but I don't know. I think I've calmed down a lot
since last year, calmed down.
Q: You're still smoking. Drinking?
A: I've cut down a lot on the drinking but I'm smoking a lot more. And they don't
know I'm smoking either.
Q: How - it must be difficult to keep all these things from them, or do you just
behave completely differently when you're at home? Just totally different.
A: They don't know what I'm really like.
A: I think my mum's got an idea, though, that I'm a kind of wild person but dad
doesn't. My dad sees me as a little girl. But my dad's more - like he'll let me go.
'Cos like you see, Indian people have these really weird ideas. When a girl get
married, she's gone. She'll never be yours again, as your daughter. I mean,
she'll still be your daughter, but she won't be so much your daughter as before.
Q: What, she'll belong more to the other family?
A: Yeah... that's what they think. And he's - he's gonna let me go, I know that,
but my mum's gonna find it hard.
Q: Yeah. You feel closer to your mum?
A: Mm. Mm.
Q: Can you talk to her about anything? I mean - about some things.
Q: There's a lot of things that you can't talk to her about, obviously - but there
are some things that you can't A: Yeah.
Q: What about these more general things that we were talking about last year,
about AIDS; have you noticed any change now you've been at college in the way
people think about AIDS, or does it not come up or A: Not really. It doesn't really come up. I mean, before, when everything was on
the telly and - really big last year, but now it's not so much. I don't know why. But
it's not so much in the news now, it's not in the public eye that much now.
Q: Mm. Toned off ... Less interest in pushing it...
A: Yeah. But it's still there, you know it's still there.
Q: Yeah. There was a programme on the television last night about heterosexual
spread and... very late, though, I mean... watch it. I was interested to see that
they've started just a few programmes going out again. But you think people
aren't concerned about it, you think A: I think it's still there but everyone doesn't speak about it. It's just something
that hangs in the air but nobody actually talks about it.
Q: Mm. Have you been worried about it yourself? When - within these
relationships that you've had, what sort of - were you using contraception then?
A: Yeah. I was on the pill for a little while. But the pill doesn't agree with me. I
was feeling really ill all the time. I don't know whether I was ill otherwise, or
because it was on the pill, but I didn't really like it.
Q: So what else did you use?
Q: And how do you like them?
A: I didn't really. But I know it's got to be put on, you know.
Q: Yeah. And what about your partners, how did they feel about ...? ... quite
A: He didn't like it. He didn't like the condom, he preferred when I was on the pill,
but when I wasn't feeling ill, he said "alright, I'll wear the condom".
Q: Do you find it - I mean some people say they sort of interrupt the flow of
things and stuff like that.
A: Yeah, it does, but we like brought it in as part of our lovemaking as well, so it
Q: ... if that's what you've got to do. Do you ever talk about, you know, this kind
of thing with your friends at college - AIDS, sex, stuff like that?
A: Yeah. 'Cos - I don't know, 'cos we're the only group who do... we're together a
lot, we're together all the time, and like you grow to like understand people, and
like we all understand - after a year we all understand each other and what
affects us all, and like if anybody starts talking about racism I'm straight into it.
And then they don't touch the case of it because (?)MAYA will blow her top.
A: You know, so they know don't talk about it with her. But it's like people have
touched upon different things, so you know like what to talk about or what not. Or
... talk about something which is touchy but - to one person, you do it mildly.
Q: Have you experienced much racism yourself?
A: No, I've never experienced it at all. But I've seen it happen to other people. I
didn't like it...
Q: What about the group, are there many people of different races in the group?
A: Yeah... total mixture.
A: I think that's the best way as well. You learn about other people like that.
Q: Yeah. Sure. Do you think you're lucky in not having experienced racism?
A: Yeah. 'Cos it's really upsetting. 'Cos I mean my friend experienced it. She was
beaten up about it and that. And like she didn't do nothing, she didn't go to the
police. She just sat back and took it - well, I don't know if she sat back and took
it, but she didn't do anything about it.
A: And they got away with it. And that's what I was really angry about. 'Cos if you
don't... straight in the middle, it'll carry on. And if you don't stop it now it'll affect
your children, your children's children, it will just carry on and on and on.
Q: Do you think there was any problem like that at the school? I mean, you say
you haven't experienced it yourself but do you think there's any problem of
racism at the school at all?
A: I don't think so. I don't think there was in the older children but there was, I
think, in younger children. When I was in the first and second years. But as they
all seemed to grow up, they seemed to like mature a lot. But myself, my brother
and my sister have never ever been in that situation. I mean, once my brother
was actually bullied, and I went straight up that school and I got the little kid and I
gave him a right bollocking and he's never done it again, as far as I know.
Q: I remember you were very protective towards your brother and sister.
A: I still am.
Q: Yeah. How are they getting on?
A: Fine. My sister's just finished her exams and (?)is about to leave school now.
She's going to EUROPEAN COUNTRY for a week, she's really excited about
that. My brother's into the World Cup and my sister's into the tennis, so you can't
watch anything these days. I mean I like a bit of both but I'm not into watching
every single match Q: Yeah.
A: ... tennis tournament or whatever.
Q: Oh, they're gonna get into a bit of conflict this week, then, aren't they? Unless
you've got two televisions.
A: Yeah. We'll put one up in my brother's room... music and that's it. Otherwise I mean, as I said before, everything's going alright. It's all straight at the moment.
I know something's gonna go wrong, something's got to go wrong, it always
Q: That sort of fatalism.
A: I don't know. But it's always been that way for me. When everything is going
right, then there always is something that goes wrong. I don't know whether it's
good that things go wrong; I don't think I should see them as going wrong, but
something happens that stirs up something. Something happens. I don't know if
it's good or bad...
Q: ... Anything else of significance that you'd like to record that's been happening
in the last year? It all sounds quite A: In the last year: the really major thing was changing from school to college.
Q: Did you find it hard or -
A: I did. 'Cos like at school we were part of a big gang and we used to really run
the school, you know what I mean?
A: But now it's like being a little person in a massive college. That's what it was
like in September, but now it's not like that anymore.
Q: You've got your group.
Q: It's hard to make those transitions. But you were also saying, I mean, there's
a positive aspect in that they treat you more like an adult A: They do. Which I really like that.
A: ... like at work, when I was a placement, I was treated as part of their - their
working team, which felt, you know Q: When - when you've been talking about this business of, you know, very likely
that you'll get married if your parents say, do you feel that you're kind of being losing control over your life or what's happening to you...?
A: You see, I don't think so, because since you were younger, you're geared up
to by the time you reach twenty-three, twenty-four, you'll get married. It's
A: So it's part of you as you're growing up.
Q: Yeah. What do you think it's gonna be like to be married? I mean it's almost
as if it's sort of - it's there and that's it A: It's coming closer and closer.
A: I'm not really looking forward to it.
A: I'm a bit scared, but then again - it sounds good. It sounds interesting.
Q: Mm. Got some positive aspects.
A: (?)Well, if me and they get on.
Q: Yeah. Do your parents get on?
A: Yeah... Like during the four, five weeks she went to India last summer, my
dad was totally dependent on me to have the house run and everything. So plus
I was working in the summer, and plus I was like mum at home.
Q: How did you find that, a little taste of what it might be?
A: It was difficult. But I had my aunt at home and she drove me up the wall. I was
having arguments with her literally every day. You know what I mean, she was
like one of them people who'd come into the home - like she got married two
years ago, and we brought her straight into our family as part of us, and she just
turns round and (?)slap us in the face literally.
A: Yeah. And - she was a proper little in-law, you know what I mean? ... of what
one could be like. And I've hated her ever since, and I've never said a word to
her since last year. And, even though she comes regularly to the house - I mean,
when my mother came back, I told her everything. She literally - like she'd use she'd make - she's got a son who's gonna be two in August; she'd make him
dinner and she'd make herself dinner, go off to work and leave - she left the little
kid with my brother, who's only twelve – fourteen, thirteen, something like that.
And he had... a tin of beans... and when I got home I really had a good go at her.
I really felt [Could not get tape going after this, notes on it]