Interview with Vicky, 18-19, British, working class, no religion. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LSFS31)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Vicky, who is doing her A-Levels to go into nursing. She is involved in left-wing, socialist politics, influenced by her older siblings. Vicky is in the process of moving out of home to live with her boyfriend, after having had to share a bedroom with her mother for the last five years due to her father's medical condition. She has been with her current boyfriend for around two years, and has had other long-term relationships before this. These have all had sexual aspects, since Vicky was fourteen, but in hindsight she thinks she might have been too young. She is not sure whether these earlier experiences were pleasurable at all. Her and her first sexual partner used condoms, but Vicky found them too awkward and now relies on the pill. She struggled to remember to take her pill sometimes, and decided to have an abortion recently when she accidentally fell pregnant. Vicky has had some unwanted sexual experiences, though she blames herself and her 'lack of confidence' for these - her political involvement since has helped to changed her attitude surrounding this. Sex education at Vicky's school spanned a whole two days. Most of her sex education has been through friends, and she has found a much more diverse social circle as she has grown up. She has masturbated from a young age, though always felt quite guilty about this. Vicky doesn't want to get married in the future, and isn't sure if she's keen on the idea of any sort of serious relationship.
1989-10-04 00:00:00
Sue Sharpe
Reanimating Data Project
Temporal Coverage
Spatial Coverage
CC BY-NC 4.0
extracted text
LSFS31 4.10.1989
Q: Well. I wondered if you could - as it was such a long time ago in a way that you filled
in the questionnaire A: Yeah, I remember.
Q: - and then you were working for the NHS, weren't you?
A: Yes.
Q: Can you sort of tell me what's happened since then, 'cos you've obviously gone back
to college and... something at college.
A: Well, I left my job in [HEALTHCARE] and I've gone back to college to do some more
A-levels. I've also... go into nursing, I had an interview at [NAME OF HOSPITAL], and
they've offered me a place after I finish. There's just this A-level that I'm doing now, so it's all sort of like making steps towards the future, I suppose.
Q: Have you always wanted to do nursing?
A: No, but it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do. I've never really considered anything
else seriously. So I mean - I've wanted to do it for about - I suppose the time I've worked
in the NHS, about two and a half years, since I went and worked in the... General
Hospital, that's when my interest started.
Q: And what - you've already got, I remember, some A-levels, when you left school.
A: Yeah, but they weren't - I wanted sort of quite a ... academic A-level, so I'm doing
biology - which I mean, hopefully - 'cos I'd like to - the course that I will do when I go into
nursing will be Project 2000, which sort of is changing the whole sort of way that they
actually teach a nurse, you know, that for the first eighteen months it's all purely study,
you don't actually go on the wards and you're not treated as an employee. You're
treated as a student. So I mean following that, you can do another year, and you can
actually get a degree in nursing. That's what Project 2000 is like changing it. So - and
also, I mean if I do decide in two years, at the end of this two years, that I don't wanna
be a nurse, then it's always better to have qualifications.
Q: Yeah. So is the degree in nursing actually something quite new?
A: Yeah. Yeah, I mean the hospital only started it last week, that was the first group that
had come in that were gonna be trained on Project 2000, so it's very new. Guinea-pigs,
I think. I'm glad I won't be in... so Q: And are you enjoying it?
A: College - yeah, I do. I mean, mores o than I did when I was at sixth form 'cos it's an
F.E., it's - there's - I just think people are a little - that more mature, you know, and the
atmosphere's quite friendly. It's a nice college, it's a nice college. Just down the road (?) [REDACTED].
Q: Oh, I know. And so you're doing biology?
A: Yeah.
Q: Just biology or any others?
A: Well, I'm gonna try and get a better grade in my maths as well, GCSE maths, so it's
just those two; so I'm not there that much of the time but - I mean SWIS, which is like a
political society there as well, so that involves sort of like being around a bit, you know,
at college more than just sort of like lesson time, and meeting people outside.
Q: What does SWIS –

A: Socialist Workers' Student Society. Yeah.
Q: Is that to do with the SWP?
A: Yeah, it is, yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's only me and this other woman there, so I mean
we're both new to the college so we're sort of like finding our feet. So not sort of - just
get people interested politically in what we've got to say. It's good.
Q: Have you done that before?
A: No.
Q: I mean, were you politically interested at school?
A: Well, I've been in the SWP for about two and a half years, on and off. But not - not
when I was at school, not really, I was sort of like lefty sort of thing, in the sense, you
know, women's rights and that sort of thing, and trying to sort of like break - I knew what
the stereotypes were 'cos my of sister and things like that, she's got like kids and that,
and I've always sort of like seen that's not what I wanted to do, whereas had a career and I, you know, thought of that first of all I suppose. That's about it - not any sort of like
sound - I didn't actually put myself with any like political party, or, you know, any like
tradition or whatever.
Q: Is - your sister's presumably older than you?
A: Yeah, my sister's thirty, yeah, she's a lot older than me. Ten years. Yeah.
Q: And so was it just the two of you A: No. My brother - my brother is in the SWP as well, my brother's a [CARING
PROFESSION], so, you know - I'm following in his footsteps pretty much, you know.
He's - my brother's twenty-seven. But I mean I'm closer to him, I get on better with him,
more in common. There's just the three of us.
Q: And are you the only one left at home?
A: I'm not livQ: You're not A: Well, I'm in the stage of sort of moving out but - the house we're living in is - I mean,
it's - I mean it's not sort of "home sweet home" at the moment, so I'm sort of darting
between there and my mum's house. So - in the process of moving out, making a big
Q: Have you lived away from home before?
A: No, no, never.
Q: And is it your mum and dad at home?
A: Yeah, and also because - the situation's that we only live in a two bedroom flat
because my dad is actually - my dad suffered a [SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION] and
he has to have his own room, so I have to share a room with my mum, which is - as I'm
getting older it's sort of, you know Q: ...
A: Yeah, it's not a good idea really. Creates hassle which, you know, doesn't need to
happen, you should just move out and - I suppose it's better, I've been getting on with
them a lot better since I moved out rather than screaming "get out" every time you want
to have a bit of peace and quiet.
Q: What, them screaming at you or A: Ah, me - each way, you know, they scream at me and Q: So how long have you been sharing with your mum?
A: [REDACTED], so - since about - about five years actually, yeah, about five years.

Q: That's quite a long time.
A: Yeah. Yeah, I didn't really used to mind that much, it's just - you can't - when you're
younger you don't care so much, but you wanna have pictures on the walls, you know,
just silly things, you know. And you just wanna be able to - if you don't - you know, go to
bed what time you want, read to what time you want, and you can't necessarily do that if
someone who's a lot older needs more sleep and, you know, also needs their own
space as well.
Q: That's right.
A: You know, you can't, you know, you can't pressurise them or make a big deal out of
Q: Well, presumably if you were sort of staying out late or something you'd feel that you
were gonna wake her up.
A: Yeah. Yeah, I've done that a few times, yeah. (Laugh)
Q: Stumbling into A: Yeah. Embarrassing more than anything, I think. Just to sort of collapse in your own
private room and things.
Q: Is that what you'll have in your new place?
A: Yeah, yeah, there's more space and the people there are, you know, just okay. Do as
you want really.
Q: That sounds a lot better.
A: Yeah, it is, we get on pretty well so Q: Are they students?
A: One of them's a student in their last year at [NAME OF UNIVERSITY] and the other
one's a [SKILLED TRADE]. So there's a sort of variety of people there.
Q: Is that women or men?
A: The student's my boyfriend, but the other woman's - the other person is a woman.
Q: The [SKILLED TRADE] A: Yeah, she's a woman, yeah. Yeah. Very brave, I think. (Laugh)... horrible stories but I
mean - enough to put you off.
Q: I expect she gets quite a lot of hassle.
A: Yeah, she does. She's a hard woman, though. She gives as good as she gets so it's
Q: Good. And in terms of like relationships, which is what - central to our research A: Yeah.
Q: - what would you say was the most important relationship sort of A: In the house?
Q: - family, friends, in your kind of life, at the moment?
A: Well, they're all sort of important at different times, I think.
Q: So it's not one that's any more important than A: No, no, I don't think so. Sort of - you need people at different times and - I think
sometimes you feel you're losing something when it becomes more important to you. So
I don't know, I wouldn't say there's anyone or anything that's more important than
something else, you know. It's all quite even. At the moment anyway.
Q: And is this the first time you will have lived with your boyfriend?
A: Yeah. Yeah. But I mean it's - we're trying to work it out on the understanding that it's
not - although it's living together it's not - oh, it sounds a bit sort of too good to be true.

We're not gonna sort of like have all these - our expectations aren't gonna change...
outside, you know, I don't expect him to be - come home at night, and, you know, and I
don't wanna know where he is every minute of the day. I mean I don't know if it'll work
out. Just see how it goes, but I mean - I mean he's sort of doing me a favour because of
the situation I'm in at home, and obviously if something better came up, then, you know
in a house maybe with some other women, then I - then I'd move out and I wouldn't feel
unhappy about it. I don't think he would either, it's just convenience at the moment to
stop me tearing my hair out a bit.
Q: And if as you say, you've got your own room there A: Yeah.
Q: - rather than that you're simply sharing his room A: Yeah. No, no, I've got my own space, so it's really good. There's no sort of like
pressure on us in that way, so that sort of makes it easier. Makes it a lot easier, yeah.
Q: And how long have you been together.
A: Eighteen - well, about two years, I suppose. On and off. I met him before - I met him
when I was at sixth form and then I sort of - I don't know, went into a relationship with
him somehow... I suppose.
Q: He must have been at university by then...?
A: He was - what he was doing was, he failed one of his A-levels and he was just doing
an A-level in a year. That's I think when I was in my first year. When he was in - he's in he's started his third term - third year next - next - at the end of this next week, so -...
Q: And so how old's he?
A: Twenty-one. A little bit older than me. A little bit older.
Q: And is that the first - no, you put you had... two long-term relationships A: Yeah. I was thinking when it was written, yeah, I have. There was someone when I
was much younger, when I was about seventeen, but - was it sixteen till I was about
seventeen, eighteen? Yeah. It doesn't seem like it was a long time when I think about it.
It was quite short, but I suppose when I was that age Q: Yeah. Sixteen to eighteen is quite a long time when you are sixteen to eighteen.
A: Yeah, yeah. I think it's - I always sort of tend to go out with people that I've been
friends with for a time as well, so if you - I mean, for a lot of the time, you know, you
might just get along as friends, you know, even if you're not sort of like attracted to each
other anymore it's sort of hard to make that break, so maybe that's why it goes on, just
as friends.
Q: So you've known him before and you started going out with him.
A: Yeah. Yeah. Not as - well, sort of just like someone who you see around, sort of a
friend of a friend as opposed to someone that I - that I used to get along with him okay.
Q: So how did you meet him?
A: I met him through - my best friend that I went to school with at that time, she's - I
don't know - I met him through her, I don't know how she... him. 'Cos we all - we all used
to be mods, you see, and I think it was just through that, just people, you sort of like get
into this little crowd. You know, people in an area get to know other people who are
following the same cult or whatever, so that sort of thing.
Q: So what did you do?
A: What did he do?

Q: What did you do, sort of like as a crowd of mods?
A: Just go drinking and - same as everybody else, yeah, go to clubs but - all the music
is different. You think it's that different but it's not really, from what everyone else is
doing, it's just the same sort of thing, it's just you dress funny. (Laugh)
Q: Yeah, I suppose it's just style.
A: Yeah, yeah. I suppose it's something you just try and relate to, you know. I mean the
sixties always seems like such a great period, you know, I mean I don't really
particularly think so now, 'cos, you know - but I mean at the time it was just like all new,
and you try and attach yourself to that, I suppose. But it was twenty years ago.
Q: And was he your first boyfriend or were there others?
A: No, I went out with someone else before that. I went out with someone for a year
before that, when I was quite young. I was probably about fourteen. But - that's a bit
hard to remember actually. I think that - I mean... it was just different, we just used to
sort of walk the dog and, you know. ...about six months when I never used to see her,
I'd just go round his house on a Sunday and go to (?) Lee River with the dog. All
summer. Like it was great, I loved it. Got on better with the dog than I did with him, I
think. (Laugh). It was a nice dog.
Q: What, so you missed the dog more than A: Yeah, I did actually, that's the only thing I thought about when I left. The dog.
Q: And were any of those early relationships like sexual relationships?
A: Yeah, they all were. I was quite young. Fourteen. Quite young. It didn't seem so at
the time but, thinking back on it, if I spoke to a fourteen-year-old now, a thirteen year old
now, and they were telling me they were having a sexual relationship, I think I'd be a bit
shocked. I think I would be.
Q: ... - Sorry A: I don't think I would sort of start moralising to them about it, I'd just feel a bit of a
hypocrite. I might say, you know, "I wouldn't worry about that, you've got a lot of time" or
whatever, I certainly wouldn't turn round and criticise them... say that.
Q: But how did you feel then, when you were fourteen, did you feel it was right?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think so.
Q: And were you pressured into it?
A: Looking back on it now, I would say, yeah, I was a bit. Yeah, a little bit. But I don't
actually remember having any memory of saying to myself, "this is what I want to do", I
just remember doing it and thinking, "it's not much of a big deal", you know, not actually
worrying about it, thinking "oh God, this is disaster, this is gonna affect the rest of my
life". I just thought - I didn't like have some big build-up to it in my mind, you know. It just
happened. I just accepted it.
Q: 'Cos was - do you remember the first time?
A: Yeah. I remember - I remember thinking about my friend actually, who was a bit older
than me. I was about fourteen, she must have been about sixteen, and I remember all
the time comparing it to what she had said to me, you know; and I do remember it, just
what most people say, you know, very unimpressive. Very.
Q: Was it with somebody that you were having a relationship with?
A: Yeah, it was with someone that I went out with when I was -for that year, with the
dog. Yeah, it was with him.
Q: And did you - how did you feel about it?

A: I don't think I really made a big deal about it. Carried on doing it for a while.
Q: Did you enjoy it?
A: No, not particularly, I don't think so, no. Because I remember, like, you know, after a
while I'd make excuses - to go round there when I knew people would be in, or want to
go out. You know, I always remember, I always wanted to go out. I mean maybe it was
like unconsciously me saying, you know - and - but I used to - 'cos I mean I used to - I
never used to - 'cos he used to sort of think that he was, you know, some sort of like
great thing, and he used to sort of like amuse me a little bit, 'cos he wasn't really. I
always used to feel sorry for him a bit.
Q: How old was he?
A: He was about seventeen. Looking back on it now, I mean, he was just as young, you
know, just as confused and felt as silly about it as I did.
Q: Was it his first relationship?
A: I don't know, because he - he said to me it wasn't, but thinking about it, I'm sure it
was. And he was a bit confused sort of, because I mean he had had a sort of - an
experience with a man, and, you know, he was saying to me at that point, "I don't know
whether or not, you know, that I'm actually -" - I mean, he was sure that he wasn't gay
but then whether or not he was bisexual or not. So I'm sure that he was quite confused
about it all really. Yeah. He made all these things about, you know, older women, but,
looking back on it now, I mean people come out with that and you just laugh at them.
But I mean Q: ...
A: Yeah, I mean he just said that he'd had, you know, flings with older women. But - I
don't think that's true.
Q: Perhaps he was trying to impress you.
A: Yeah, maybe. He used to be trying - he just used to be very aware of like the way he
looked, and he used to have this image, you know, and he was - yeah. Strange.
Q: Did it just happen when you were in the house and no one was in?
A: No, people were in, yeah... We talked about it, I think, you know, we definitely talked
about it, it didn't just happen, I mean we did actually talk - like the decision that that was
gonna happen, you know. I don't know. I think maybe it wouldn't have gone on if it
wasn't - if we hadn't gone out with each other such a long time, you know, it maybe just have been that - I think I might have felt worse about it if it was just that one time
and never again. 'Cos I mean I can't say that all throughout with it I never enjoyed any
experience, 'cos I mean I'm sure I did, I mean otherwise I would have put a stop to it a
lot quicker than, you know, six or seven months, I'm sure I would.
Q: And who kind of took the initiative?
A: He did. Yeah.
Q: And was that always the case, I mean if it was gonna happen was it like him starting
it rather than you?
A: No, I don't - no, not all the time. I mean I don't - I used to like to sort of like - to cuddle
someone and hug someone and I mean I don't know if that, 'cos of his..., I don't know if
he misunderstood that. I mean I wouldn't always sleep with him, you know, I mean I
wouldn't always. Maybe it was like once a fortnight or whatever or, you know, whenever,
it wasn't a lot. And I would have contact with him and it wouldn't always be sexual, so - I
don't think it was always him, no.

Q: Was there ever like that sense of actually wanting to cuddle and kiss and be close to
someone, but then the other person sometimes gets more aroused, so you feel that
you've got to follow it through, 'cos you're somehow responsible for their - for them? - if
you know what I mean.
A: Yeah. I can't remember. I mean now I would say that - that there isn't that confusion,
no. I mean if I just want to cuddle and kiss someone then it won't - I don't think that
JASON, I mean, you know, interprets that in the wrong way necessarily. 'Cos I mean I
don't either - I don't, and he, you know, wants that or needs that, so it's just
understood... good.
Q: And did you use contraception...?
A: Yeah, first of all, sheaths we used to use. God. (Laugh)
Q: What was that like?
A: Terrible. Yeah, horrible.
Q: Why was it horrible?
A: It's just very complicated and - I don't know, you know - it's like, I don't mean, you
know, it's not Q: - "hold on" A: Yeah, yeah, you know, and you think "oh, God". It's not - you know, it's sort of - you
know, they say that you lose your desire for someone if you see them in all this, you
know, like on the toilet or in the bath and that because you don't see their body as
desirable, so when they're sort of like doing this really sort of like fiddly thing - "is it
worth it?", you know. I always took it all quite seriously, though, I wish I'd taken it a bit
sort of more light-heartedly. But I mean with GARY I can really laugh, you know, if I
think something's really funny then I laugh, but - SEAN was like very, you know, very
serious, he was a very serious man. I suppose it's 'cos he was young, he wasn't that
Q: Yeah. 'Cos a lot of it's confidence, isn't it?
A: Yeah.
Q: So did it get better, after your relationship with him?
A: Yeah - well no - I mean the only time that I've really sort of enjoyed it is with GARY.
I've only actually had - yeah.
Q: That's your current A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: Why is it different with him?
A: I mean I - I don't know, 'cos of my age, maybe because I'm more comfortable about
myself. I think I definitely am. I... I do like him a lot. Because he is sort of like - I mean,
he doesn't put on any sort of like big airs and graces sort of, you know, he's sort of like
quite down to earth about things. 'Cos he's just - I mean if ever he's got any hang-ups
about it, you know, he always comes out and says things. So - it's not this big sort of like
"hush-hush" about it all, you know, it's just funny a lot of the time.
Q: You mentioned a couple of occasions when you'd had sex against your will A: Mm.
Q: What were they?
A: Not actually - I mean I know that - I mean I thought - I mean I - I - it wasn't sort of
physical, I mean, but in a way it was sort of like mental. I don't know. One occasion
when there was this person that I knew that I wasn't having a relationship with, just that I

was sleeping with, and - that whole thing about, just because they walked me home it
meant that, you know - and instead of me saying, you know - that's when I wasn't good
about myself, "no, I don't want this", you know, "it's your problem if you think, just
because you walk someone home", you know, "that you're necessarily gonna sleep with
them". But I didn't, I went along with it, and I didn't really enjoy it, I hated it.
Q: How old were you then?
A: Probably about seventeen, eighteen. And it's just - I mean, I don't think about it and that much, 'cos I think - I mean, I don't think "oh God", you know, it was stupid of me to
be so soft with someone, someone I didn't particularly care about. But I mean, as I say,
the reason that I think that on those occasions that it's ever happened, is because I
haven't been confident enough, you know, to sort of stop it. And that's why it's against
my will, 'cos in my normal frame of mind... you know...
Q: But he expected it, did he?
A: Yeah. He's an idiot. A stupid idiot.
Q: And did that happen twice with him, or was that somebody else?
A: I'm trying to think what I - I mean that - that time's what really stuck in my mind, and
there was somebody else, but that was just - that was - I don't know. That was sort of
like manipulation as well, I think. Yeah. No, I think it was different - yeah, I mean, this - I
mean the person who walked me home, I mean that - that - it happened before but not I mean not as sort of obvious, I don't think, or maybe I didn't recognise it. But as I was
actually doing it I recognised that I didn't want to, it was only afterwards, you know.
Q: So what did you feel afterwards?...
A: I didn't... Yeah, I... in myself, just decided that - I just pitied him really. I didn't put
myself down, I don't think... you know... it was just - it was him.
Q: Yeah. 'Cos it was very unreasonable in a way to think that you A: - and also Q: - logically have that from just walking someone home.
A: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And also because I know that he's not very sound, you know, in
other ways, I mean he's - I do pity him.
Q: What, so a bit of you felt sorry for him?
A: Pardon?
Q: A bit of you felt sorry for him.
A: Yeah, I think I do a bit. Yeah. Yeah. It's a bit of a - bit of a fool really. Yeah. I don't
ever get - I might get a bit angry at myself about it, you know, like, say "shouldn't have
done that", but if you turn things over in your head too much, you make too much of a
big thing about it, you know, it's just - it's just an act, it doesn't matter. So if you can
come to terms - if you've got really bad feelings about it and you can't come to terms
with it, that's when it's a problem, but I mean, as I can, then it isn't really a problem.
Q: And so when did you - would you say that you actually changed so that you got
enough confidence that that would be less likely to happen again?
A: I really sort of started changing just before I met GARY, I think. I think maybe it's
because like I - I got involved politically, and that did - I mean that, in a certain sense,
'cos you understand a lot of the reason why people act in a certain way and, you know,
you don't see yourself as a victim, you know. I refuse to see myself as a victim so you
don't feel so isolated in it and, also, I mean, just - just having confidence about, you

know, the way, the way that you are. I don't know where I got it from, maybe I just grew
up a bit.
Q: Right. Did any of it come from sort of political involvement or A: The growing up?
Q: Well, just the sort of changing attitudes about ... sex and things like that.
A: Yeah, I think it did, yeah. Yeah, I think it all came - a lot of it anyway, came from
political involvement, yeah. 'Cos I mean as I say, you don't - you don't feel as isolated,
you know, within it, and - 'cos, you know, if you've never sat in a - in a... before about,
you know,... depression, you sat there and someone actually is acknowledging that
you've got this problem and - but it's not you, it's not your problem, you know, it's
society's problem, and actually taking the blame away from you as a woman, you know,
you as a victim, and sort of putting it on - you know, putting it away from that and
actually, you know - it making sense that it isn't, you know, you - you're not creating
your own oppression, it's coming from somewhere else. So I mean that helps. And it's
also 'cos you don't - you're not so absorbed in your own problems, you know, 'cos
you're out there trying, you know, to convince people like to fight racism or, you know, to
fight the poll tax, or to fight loans and, you know, your head's just filled with all these
things, and then you've got all these new ideas all the time. It's like a rush of new ideas.
And you talk to people, you know, you talk to - to other women who like share your
experiences, and you talk to men who aren't sexist bigots, who don't just wanna walk
you home and, you know - that you realise, you know, it's not a problem. So, yeah,
politics is a good thing, a good thing.
Q: And in terms of - kind of thinking back to contraception, things like that, are you still
using sheaths or A: No, no, the pill. I think - I mean I went to - I remember going to my doctor the first
time and I - I used to have this really horrible old doctor, he used to be signing the
prescription before you'd even finished saying - but I walked in and there was a woman
doctor there and ... I'd never seen her before, but I'd heard from other, you know, that
she'd really listen to you. And I sat down and told her that - it was before my sixteenth
birthday, you know, that I wanted to go on the pill. And she explained to me, you know,
that she couldn't do that, I mean that was the time they had to inform your parents.
Q: What, with Gillick?
A: Yeah, yeah. And - but I think - I probably realise why it's sixteen. Valentine's Day,
that's right - Valentine's Day I remember going on the pill, yeah, starting the pill. So it
was about '87, I suppose. About three years. Yeah. I can't be bothered with sheaths.
Q: And would you - so you just use the pill?
A: Yeah.
Q: And is that alright - you don't get effects from it?
A: No, I don't, no. First of all, when they started me off on - was it (?) Microdyne 30 – I
know all this 'cos I work in [HEALTHCARE] and I hand them out to - I got pretty bad
headaches, but then they put me on a lower dose. So it's okay. If I remember to take it.
Q: Do you sometimes not?
A: Yeah. Yeah.
Q: What do you do then, if you forget?
A: Restrain myself. (Laugh) Yeah. It's just - I mean I don't usually forget days, I don't
usually take it at the same time, I might take it four hours later or five hours later or - it

depends, if I'm rushing out in the morning and I forget to take it. But I've started leaving
it where I clean my teeth now so I can't really miss it, so it's alright.
Q: Is it the one that you've got to take at the same hour, roughly, every day, that sort A: Yeah. Well, it's - well I don't know if it - I'm not sure about - it's - it says on the packet
to do that, and also it's - you get marker days that you're supposed to - I mean it is for - I
think it is for real idiots, because you like, you mark off the day, and the next time the
red circle - the first day's red and then the eighth day has to fall on another Saturday,
that's the first day, so there's no way you can get confused and think, "oh, have I taken
it or haven't I?". It's all sort of mapped out quite clearly for you.
Q: Well that's good, I suppose.
A: ... head...
Q: So have you ever had any scares of thinking that you might be pregnant?
A: Yeah. Well, I had an abortion. Actually, I didn't... May, June, when did I go away? Well, you know when I went away, about three weeks before that.
Q: That's right.
A: Yeah, I didn't - 'cos that was after I sent my thing in. So, it was pretty stupid. But Q: Was that through missing the pill?
A: Yeah, it was a bit weird, yeah. But I knew I was missing it, you see. I don't know...
crazy frame of mind. I knew I was missing it.
Q: So you were taking a risk?
A: Mm. I don't know why.
Q: And then how did you feel when you knew you were pregnant?
A: I didn't feel any different. I don't - I didn't feel maternal or anything. Well I was sort of when I thought about it, I was, you know, sort of - I said, "did you do it on purpose?" And
I - I don't think I did, I just - I don't really know why I did it. I could have - I mean I didn't
take the pill, I mean it was - I made that - I made that decision. When I got pregnant, I
made the decision I didn't want it.
Q: Was that easy?
A: Yeah. It sounds a bit heartless, doesn't it. I'm not saying... it just seems like you get
yourself into it and straight away, you know, you do it. It's a bit careless. Bit careless... I
don't know.
Q: And did GARY mind?
A: That I was pregnant? Yeah, he did mind that I was pregnant. Anti - anti-babies. No,
he just said, I mean he said whatever position I'm in he'd support me, but if I decided to
have a baby then our relationship would change, which obviously it would. 'Cos he's not
- it wasn't his decision, you know, and obviously he's not gonna sort of run away, but
he's not gonna - he didn't want that level of involvement, which is alright. I mean, I didn't
mind him saying that really.
Q: So it wasn't unexpected.
A: No. Oh, no. ...before that I'd spoken to him. 'Cos I - I still think about why - why I got
into the situation though, 'cos I didn't need to.
Q: You weren't sort of stressed about something else or A: I don't know, maybe, I don't know. Not really. I mean it could - I mean it could - I
suppose you could say it was just before I was going to college and all that, but - other
things on my mind, but it just don't take much effort to take a pill every day really. It's
just being stupid, a really silly thing to do.

Q: Were you relieved at all to find that you could get pregnant?
A: Yeah.
Q: In the sense that some people think...
A: Yeah, I was actually when I thought about it. Yeah. I don't know - I'd never have
thought of that, I mean thought of having children, but I suppose I will, I don't know. But I
was relieved. Nice to know, I suppose. (Laugh)
Q: Like putting your toe in the water or something.
A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: And has it made you different since, with taking the pill, or A: Yeah, I mean Q: - are you more careful?
A: Yeah, I am. As I say, I put it somewhere where I can see it now whereas I used to go
out without it and, you know, things like that. I think, you know - sometimes I think about
it. It wasn't really - it wasn't a (?)bad experience really.
Q: What, having the abortion?
A: Yeah.
Q: Was it straightforward to get it?
A: Yeah, I went in - I went to see my GP, then I went to see the Consultant, and she
said to me, "well we've got a clinic on Wednesday". So it happened over about a week
or so, you know. I mean, it was horrible before because I was really sick for about - I
mean I thought it was because - not that I drink lots, but, you know, on the few
occasions that I had gone out, I mean, I just couldn't - couldn't drink anything, you know,
any sort of - sometimes I used to drink lager or whatever, I couldn't stomach it. It used to
make me feel sick. I couldn't sit in the smoke, I was just being sick for no reason. And I
think that was what persuaded me, oh my God, you know, this is gonna be like - and all
that side of it was horrible before, but the actual termination wasn't that bad.
Q: And it hasn't left you with lots of mixed up feelings?
A: No. No. I think 'cos I approached it in quite a straightforward way. That's still politics
as well, you know... I mean, I got that idea that at least it wasn't a baby, that it wasn't,
you know, that it wasn't (?) independent of me, and it was my choice and - so, yeah. I
don't feel guilty or anything like that, not at all.
Q: And do you ever think about things like AIDS and those sorts of risks?
A: I was coming up on the bus, I was saying to myself, you know, seriously if I've ever
slept with anyone I didn't know very well, have I thought about AIDS, and I can't say that
I have. It's very - I surprise myself really,... indifferent about it all, you know, not taking it
Q: 'Cos do you remember when you first heard about AIDS?
A: I think I saw it on a documentary on the television. Yeah, I'm sure I did, on the news,
you know, when there was this big, you know, this whole like to-do about it, in the paper
and that.
Q: Was that when they had the whole series of programmes?
A: I think so, yeah. There was one - it was specifically about America and they were
talking about the gay community and how it had changed and - because of AIDS, you
know, and everything, you know. It's going a few years back. 'Cos there was actually a
(?) snippet, wasn't there, a (?) snippet of - of like - for any of this to happen,
apparently,... like there was another documentary, you know, quite later on into it, that

said, you know, it just - people just got hysterical, not hysterical laughter but over the
Q: Can you remember any of those campaigns that they had?
A: I remember the Sun being disgusting, as it always is. That's the one that sticks in my
mind. Gay plague and all that, I mean Q: And what did you think to that at the time?
A: Well, I mean I hate anything that the Sun puts out, and, you know, they're - they're
just trying to, you know, create this, you know - just building up on homophobia, you
know - attitudes. I thought it was disgusting, I thought it was wrong.
Q: Did you see any of those television programmes that were - you know, like the
famous one with Ian Dury sort of doing whatever he was doing with a condom, or loads of... directed towards young people?
A: No, no I don't remember any of that. I just remember this first one about, you know,
the community in America, and then I - one a little while ago; there's a place in London
they've spent like thousands of pounds on it where people go Q: ... Hospital.
A: Yeah, I remember seeing that. In hospital we had some patients who were HIV
positive, I mean - that was the closest I've ever come to it and - I don't actually
remember seeing that much, I just Q: And do you actually know the difference between HIV and AIDS, things like that?
A: Full blown AIDS is when - it's when you ultimately, you know, you are gonna die of
AIDS, but HIV positive is if you've actually got the trace of it in your blood, and that you
might - may actually, you know, you may actually die from AIDS, you may be HIV
positive but never actually die of AIDS. I think basically that's what...
Q: And do you know how you catch it?
A: Sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, through blood. It's - I'm not very sure if it is from
- if you've got a cut inside your mouth, I suppose, but not actually through your spit, I
don't know if you could Q: No, you'd need an enormous amount.
A: Yeah, that's - yeah, that's it, that's why it's easier... But because, you know this thing,
it was - you know, it's developing all the time and they aren't curing it, that - I mean
maybe I've got caught up in a bit of the - the rubbish that's come out. It's hard to believe
when you're having all these ideas thrown at you. I mean I try to sort of stay calm and
not sort of like start screaming about it and whatever, I don't think that's at all helpful.
Q: Did you ever feel it applied to you at all?
A: I think - I mean I know, you know, that what they say is that, you know, the - the
people - the number who are - the number of people that are actually gonna be - die of
AIDS is gonna mean that at least someone you know is gonna - that's the only reason
why, I never thought it would mean anything to me. I can't - that's what I was saying, I
didn't actually see it as a threat to myself because - I suppose it's because I don't sleep
with - I don't sleep around or whatever that much (laugh). I don't really see it as a threat
to myself.
Q: Who do you feel it is a threat to, if it's not a threat to yourself?
A: Drug addicts. I don't know, I mean the thing is that the effect that I suppose that it's
had on the - on the gay, you know, community is that they've actually changed their
sexual behaviour, so I mean what they're saying now is that AIDS is actually more rife

between heterosexuals than it is between people who are having homosexual
relationships. So, it's hard to say really, I think it - eventually it's gonna affect everyone,
and anyone who denies that is just - has just got their head up in the clouds really. It's
something we've all got to, you know, try and have an understanding of and - I can see
that. I mean that's why I surprised myself on the bus, you know, I thought, I know this
question's gonna come up and I had to think about it, and how do you feel about it, you
haven't .. (tape change)
Q: No, it's quite tricky applying it to yourself. 'Cos it's the heterosexual population have
been - have been much slower, as you say, in actually changing anything. And can you
conceive of yourself as actually changing, or do you think that you'll always be kind of
less at risk A: No, I think that Q: - because you don't sleep around. I mean is it only people who sleep around who get
A: No, I mean obviously there's always the odd case you get, you know, I know that...
blood transfusion - I know that doesn't actually go now 'cos they have it screened or
whatever, but I mean I think if I actually talk to myself seriously, you know, and say to
myself that, you know, you've got to accept that it is gonna be a factor that's gonna
affect everybody's lives in the future, you've got to - that if you weren't in the relationship
you're in and you were faced with sleeping with someone and you didn't know, what what decision would you make? And obviously if you were responsible, you'd take
precautions. So - I mean I think I've said - started to say things like that to myself now.
Q: Would you think you would use condoms?
A: Yeah, even though I said that, you know, I find them a bit fiddly and whatever, yeah, I
think I would. I mean I know I would. I think I've become more - because I've become
more like responsible about sex, I think, my attitude to it.
Q: And do you think you'd be able to ask somebody to use one?
A: Yeah. I wouldn't ever feel embarrassed. I think if you're embarrassed about sex then
you shouldn't actually do it until you're confident about it, 'cos if you - these little, you
know, hang-ups about it then you're not gonna enjoy it. I mean if you're sleeping with
anyone, it should be someone who you feel confident with. I don't get embarrassed
about it, talking to anyone about sex.
Q: What, men or women?
A: ... Men or women. Like my sexual life or theirs and then, you know, whatever.
Whatever comes up in the course of the conversation.
Q: Do you talk about it a lot, in general?
A: Well, not really, I joke about it a bit with my friends and sort of - not really, no more
than anybody else I suppose. Joke about the idea that it's supposed to be some great
thing, you know, for everybody, and - if you see some man who thinks he's like, sort of
like... giggle at it I suppose. But if anyone's got a problem, yeah, sure, talk about it. You
know, I wouldn't be able to turn anybody away so Q: Do people come and talk to you about their problems?
A: Yeah, my friends do. I think it's 'cos I started a lot - a lot earlier than they did –
Q: What, having a sexual relationship?
A: Yeah. So - I don't think they think I'm all-knowing, but maybe... (laugh)
Q: Well maybe they think you'll be more sympathetic or -

A: Yeah. I do talk to people, friends, to close friends anyway.
Q: What, women friends A: Yeah, yeah. Women friends. It's then - then that you sort of - I don't know, I seem to
think that people have got more problems than I have about it. So it's alright.
Q: What sort of problems do they come to you with?
A: Didn't enjoy it. Don't necessarily like - think they like someone, then they've decided
they don't feel attracted to them physically, you know. And also, I mean just, you know,
just general things - "I wouldn't feel confident about doing this, I wouldn't feel confident
about saying that", sort of.
Q: So can you advise them?
A: I don't know, I just tell them my experience, yeah. If I've ever felt like that. Try and
encourage them to talk to their partner about it. I wouldn't say that I preach, I just say,
well, you know, I've felt like that, I think we all do, you know.
Q: What, about not enjoying it, or A: About not being confident, I mean it does all come down to confidence.
Q: So do you know - in terms of people talking about safe sex, what would you think
that meant?
A: Taking precautions if you didn't know anyone, using - using a sheath, you know, not
actually, I don't know, indulging yourself in anything that's gonna put you at risk, you
know, whatever that is. You know, just being aware that there is a problem and making
sure that awareness, you know, actually sort of makes you make some moves towards
safe sex.
Q: Do you see safe sex as meaning using a sheath or are there other sorts of ways of A: - I suppose you Q: - having sex or A: Yeah, you don't necessarily have to have intercourse, you know, you can just sort of
sleep - I don't know, kiss someone or whatever, you know, you don't necessarily have to
penetrate, I suppose. Penetrative sex, I don't - yeah, I mean, that... you know, just - it's
alright just to be with someone isn't it, you know, you don't necessarily have to sleep
with them or - in the full extent, just enjoy being with them. I suppose that's a form of
safe sex, not indulging yourself to the full extent.
Q: Yes, 'cos there's other forms of sex like oral sex which doesn't involve penetration.
A: Yeah.
Q: Although I don't know how much that is used or popular or...
A: I mean, a lot of the people that I know, I mean like, if they meet anyone new, they
don't necessarily go home with them. They don't think - I mean, from - more than - also,
because, you know, you don't know them, so... that's not always what you want, you
know. Why should everything be, you know, so rushed and that?... I don't think any of
my friends actually think that sex is the most important thing in their life, you know, they
don't go out - I mean I - if I go out with my friends, I don't go out in - in search of it or in
search of male company, you know, just - or GARY and his friends, I don't think that
that, you know, a great importance in their life really.
Q: But do you think, thinking of penetration, do you think that's more important to men
than women?

A: I don't know. I don't know. I - I don't see why it should be necessarily. You're both
supposed to get a form of satisfaction from it, so I don't - how can it be more important
to one than the other? I don't know.
Q: I suppose I was thinking, because of men - like young men growing up often tend to
see their sexual progress or whatever, in terms of actual people that they've had sexual
intercourse with. So therefore, to, say, have a sexual relationship which is doing lots of
other sexual things, but without actually the penetration, might be something that they
wouldn't feel that happy about; whereas girls or women might have as much or more
enjoyment out of that. Maybe that's not the case for you anyway, I mean maybe A: I just think a lot - maybe it's - it's just maybe it's the type of men I know, I don't think
that I - I mean I think there are certain kinds of men that you come across who see that
sexual intercourse and actual penetration is important 'cos it's about proving, you know you know, the so-called, you know, manliness and status - I mean maybe that's how
they'd see, that's how they'd put across that they're a man, you know, that's how they
assert themselves. So they're obviously - if they went to bed with a woman and they
didn't end up, you know, actually having penetrative sex with her, then maybe that might
- they might see that as a failure. So therefore that - in that sense it might be so
important to them. So I suppose you could say that. But I mean certainly, some of the
people that I know, I mean sometimes you just - 'cos you won't - you know, if it's just to
go to bed with someone, it doesn't have to mean that, the whole thing. Sometimes you
fall asleep anyway. (Laugh)
Q: Before you ever get A: Just can't be bothered...
Q: What, is that both of you fall asleep?
A: Yeah. No, sometimes, you know. It's not a big deal. I sit there and have a talk with
someone or a good row with them. Sometimes anyway, it depends what mood you're in,
I suppose.
Q: And - if this isn't too personal a question, what do you, like, enjoy most sexually?
A: Kissing. Yeah, I'd say. I enjoy that bit.
Q: So that makes you feel the best?
A: Yeah, it's nice. I mean I don't - I don't really think about sex that much, you see, I
mean I couldn't sit down and say, well this is - this is what I really wanna do, I just - take
it as it comes, I suppose. I wouldn't say I was one of these people have, you know,
these little - these things they like to do and that, you know. Just kissing's nice.
Q: And do you and GARY kind of experiment around together, or is it fairly
A: Not so much - we used to experiment more than we do now, I think - I think maybe
we're just a bit used to each other. I don't know, maybe we're getting a bit bored with
each other. In some senses. I think you have your ups and downs, like most things in
relationships. Yeah, I mean, we have experimented in the past. But - it's ...
Q: But then maybe you experiment and then sort of find things that you actually like,
and stick A: Stick to it for a while. Yeah. (Laugh). Yeah, for the time being, yeah. It's been okay...
Q: So do you often stay at his place, is that what A: Yeah, I mean it's not - it's not that - I mean I haven't got a room of my own any more
now so -

Q: That's right. You couldn't exactly bring him back to your room with your A: No.
Q: - mum.
A: No. I mean a lot of the time if - if I - I mean I'm not - I -sometimes when I don't
actually go back to, you know, where we live, is - is because if no one's gonna be there,
I don't really like being in the house on my own that much, so I'll stay round my mum's
and that. It's more - it's getting closer, you know, that I actually spend more time where
GARY lives now than - than my mum's. I mean I might be there weekends and Sunday
dinner and things. Creep round on Sunday morning (laugh). But - yeah, it's always more
- it's always sort of been more there than at my house anyway.
Q: Do you feel you're a person who - thinking of taking a bit of a risk when you got
pregnant A: Yeah.
Q: - do you take any other sorts of risks, do you think?
A: Just generally?
Q: Mm.
A: No, I don't think I do. No. I don't even like not paying my bus fare or my tube fare,
don't like taking the risk. I just - no, I don't, I don't like the hassle, don't like people
shouting at me and - I don't like to worry really. I don't think I take any risks.
Q: Do you kind of smoke or drink to excess, or anything like that?
A: I'd say that I probably drink a bit, but I think that's just because of my - my age, and
the people, you know, I mix with, and what we do, you know. Most SWP meetings are in
pubs, so (laugh) - circle round the bar, you know. And smoke, no. I mean I - thing is, I
smoke when I drink, which is a bit silly. I mean I don't know why. Just get this desire to
have a cigarette, and then I wake up in the morning... But I never buy any cigarettes, I
could never do that.
Q: What about drugs?
A: I smoke sometimes.
Q: Dope?
A: Yeah but - I sort of like - I'm sure I must be getting a bit moralistic, 'cos my friends
sort of - into going to all these Acid House raves, and I really hate the whole scene, I
think it's all commercialised, I think, you know, there's a lot of young people being taken
- and I've never really - I've never really liked the feeling of being stoned actually. I
mean I quite like the feeling of being drunk but I never like the feeling of being stoned. I
can't - I don't - I can't handle my own emotions, and the times that I have taken drugs - I
mean, I took speed once. It wasn't actually speed, it was slimming tablets. And I just got
this immense paranoia, you know, for the whole evening I hated it. But I smoke every
now and again. Socially I suppose. I wouldn't ever buy it. Seedy world. I'm not that hot
on drugs. But neither are my friends, you see, so they sort of - there's just this one
woman I'm not that close to, but I mean I've known for a long time, but I mean most of
my friends drink. I'm not saying it's better for you, it's a drug itself, but Q: Yes. At least it's not injecting heroin A: Mm. Oh, I couldn't do any of that. No. No way.
Q: Do you know any people who do?
A: No.
Q: It's not part of your -

A: No.
Q: - your sort of circuit at all.
A: No.
Q: How - something which the questionnaire asked about - which was sex education:
can you remember anything about A: I was sitting in my science room and the teacher got out this box on the table, and
there was like caps and old tubes of spermicide jelly and a packet of three sort of - ...
sort of all the ends of the durex actually bent up, and that was it, I think; we all sort of
looked at them, and the boys sat at the back, you know, totally disinterested. I don't
think we were that silly about it; we had a bit of a giggle, you know, and whatever. I don't
actually remember actually writing any theory about it. It wasn't very - if it was, it was
probably about two days, and that was it, just this box that came out and went away
again, just as quickly. That was it.
Q: That's all you had at school?
A: Yeah. Yeah. I mean I don't - I don't know where I learnt it all from, probably from just
friends and Q: Did your parents ever tell you?
A: No. Not really, no. Not anything.
Q: And things that are kind of more, I suppose, not exactly personal, but things like
we've got down about masturbation and homosexuality and A: Did my parents tell me anything about that? - no.
Q: Well, where did you learn about things like that, because they tend not to teach you
things like that at school, and if your parents don't tell you, then... personal
relationships... Did you ever talk to them about anything?
A: I suppose - no, no, not really. I suppose, now as I've got older, some of my friends
have been gay, I mean not - I don't actually know any gay women, I don't think, but I
mean I know a couple of gay men, and I suppose just through talking to them that's - ;
masturbation, I suppose just through my own experiences of it really, when you're
young, you know.
Q: Was that something that you explored kind of off your own A: Yeah. Yeah.
Q: - initiative sort of thing, not somebody sort of saying A: No. "Don't do this"! (Laugh) Yeah, I - yeah. I remember when I was young feeling
very guilty about it, very guilty about it. And I actually remember, like, when my body
started changing, I thought my body was changing because I used to masturbate.
Q: What, you were causing it?
A: Yeah, I thought that - that was my - you know, that I was - the reason my body was
changing was 'cos of that. And I had this friend who was around the same age as me
but very skinny, very - you know, like, she wasn't as developing - at the same rate as I
was. And I remember one day, we used to go and stay at her house, and we were in the
bath, and - you know, and I was thinking, "oh, no! What am I gonna do?". You know,
she looked like I'd looked, you know, six months ago, and I really remember sort of like
thinking, "I'll never be able to have a boyfriend" and - so I wasn't aware what women
were supposed to look like, you know, even to, you know, that –
Q: How old were you then?
A: About eight or nine. Ten maybe. Yeah, probably about - round that age.

Q: And did you think that she was so skinny because she didn't masturbate?
A: Yeah, it wasn't that, it was just Q: I don't mean "skinny", I mean...
A: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I just thought - yeah, I just thought that maybe she - nobody else
did it and nobody else, you know, knew. There wasn't a word for it, you know.
Q: Did you ever talk about it to anyone?
A: No. You're the first person that I've ever told, you know, that when you're that age
you do it actually, I've never spoken to anybody about it.
Q: No, 'cos it does seem to be one of those really private things. You know, I've talked
to people like who say that's the one thing that they don't talk about with their female
friends A: Yeah, you know Q: - terribly intimate things, about sort of sex with their boyfriends A: - but when it comes to that, yeah.
Q: Yeah.
A: It's funny really, it's quite strange, thinking about it.
Q: Yeah, it does seem funny in a way, because in one sense it's the most - well, I
suppose... pretty safe sex. (Laughter)
A: Yeah. (laugh) GARY's sort of funny actually... masturbation. I've talked around the
subject and he seems to think, you know - I mean, he's told me, I mean he admitted that
he - I says, oh come on, you can't admit that you - you can't say that you've never
masturbated - "yeah, of course I have", you know, "at eight years old". You know, I
won't go into details, it's not very nice, but then he goes, he said but - and I said to him,
"but women - women do it like, women masturbate, there's nothing, you know, wrong in
masturbation", you know. So, he sort of - (grunt) - and I was a bit surprised at that
actually, I got a bit annoyed with him. But I think maybe he was just trying to wind me up
a little bit. But I mean - just - I mean I didn't actually talk to him specifically about my
experiences of it, I - in a very roundabout way, and because he was seemed so sort of
anti, I wouldn't have dreamt to carry it on further, you know, so Q: And he wouldn't actually admit to masturbating himself...
A: When he was a child - yeah, yeah, you know.
Q: But I mean I think most men do...
A: Yeah, I know, I mean, just - I'm sure they must.
Q: But I don't really understand why they don't want people to know, or why he doesn't
want you to know.
A: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, you see people doing the weirdest things, you know,
not just sexual things, but I mean, you know, and then that - just - got this big taboo
about it, not to discuss it, it never happens. Nobody does it, nobody discusses it.
Q: 'Cos does he kind of masturbate you?
A: Yeah, it's not as though Q: - he's not A: - you know, it's just - I don't know. I wouldn't pry anyway, into it, I mean if he just
wants to have... think twice maybe.
Q: Where do you normally go - I mean, I guess it doesn't apply so much now, but where
would you go to - to meet people, meet new people?
A: New people?

Q: Or just meet people... or A: Pubs, most of the time. Parties. Socials. Usually the pub, I'd say, (?) thinking about it
too much. Yeah.
Q: And is that how you spend most of your time - I don't mean in the pub now, but I
know there's meetings A: Yeah. Or the cinema, I go to the cinema a lot, love the cinema. We go to the park a
lot as well, 'cos he lives right opposite [PARK IN LONDON], or we used to in the
Q: ...
A: Yeah, it's nice. Play games and that. Get a load of people together on a Sunday
morning, or just go on our own... I wouldn't say we sort of - sometimes we go to clubs,
sometimes. We always sort of - I mean, I always tend to wanna sort of go to gay clubs, I
don't really like straight clubs, I find them a bit - bit of a cattle market. Gay clubs are
cattle markets but you can stand outside and you don't have to get involved in it, and all
clubs are on the same principle, because you're a woman and you're - you know, you
can be just left alone and do as you - do what you want.
Q: Yes. No, it's much safer.
A: Yeah, it's better.
Q: Is that when you're on your own or when you're with A: Well, both really. I mean I go with my friend, my woman - women friends go to clubs,
and I go with GARY as well.
Q: He doesn't mind?
A: No, no. He doesn't mind at all. He really introduced me to it all. He's quite openminded.
Q: And do you see your women friends a lot?
A: When I first went with GARY, not as much, but it's increasing now. I mean I've always
spoken to them on the telephone - when I used to live at my mum's anyway, not so
much now I have to stand in the phone box and chat for thirty-five minutes about
nothing, about other people, but - yeah, I mean, I do keep in contact.
Q: 'Cos in your questionnaire you actually put that there was a - like a particular
girlfriend who you did things with.
A: CASSIE, yeah. She's...
Q: Is she someone you've known for a long time?
A: I knew her from school. I wasn't really friends with her at school, but sort of came
together and influenced each other over a number of things, we get on really well.
Really well.
Q: And can you talk together about your relationships and things ... personal things?
A: Yeah, well men are a pact actually, we're not to talk about it 'cos we've been going on
Q: ...
A: - we're not gonna talk about men. Just - just - there's always - we got to a point one
day where when we went out, all we talked about - and I said, you know, this is really
boring, can't we talk about anything else? So, we made a pact to discuss other things.
GARY asked me that, and I said, there's more important things in life than talking about
you, actually.
Q: ...

A: Yeah. (laughter)
Q: And do you see yourself going on with GARY?
A: Not forever. I'm a bit romantic, I've become a bit romantic... since I went out with
GARY 'cos Q: Why do you think that is?
A: I don't know. I just - I suppose because I like him so much. I don't know why. (Laugh)
I do know why, but I mean Q: Why?
A: I just - I don't - I'd like to. I say that, but I'm sure I wouldn't, I'm sure in five years' time,
if I'm still going out with him, I'll be tearing my hair out, you know, but - I'd like to for a
while, yeah, for a while longer.
Q: 'Cos does - I mean we've talked a lot about the sex, but we haven't talked much
about love A: Yeah.
Q: And is that kind of important, as important, more important?
A: Yeah, very important. Very important. 'Cos GARY’s the only person I ever went out
with, first of all he was very affectionate, and a lot of the people I've been out with have
not sort of - that whole thing about having a cuddle without actually having sex and
being just like quite physical without, you know, there's the sexual element in it, so - and
he's - I mean he's all sort of the things everyone says, you know, like funny and all that
and - yeah, I mean, love is very important, but he's not - but at the same time he's not
very loving a lot of the time, 'cos he's got a lot of his own hang-ups, you know, and I'm
sure that he worries about giving too much. You know, all - all the - all the things that
people go through. But it is important to me.
Q: Do you feel that it's kind of equivalent? - like what you give each other?
A: I think I give him more. I suppose. You never know really. My friend always says,
CASSIE always says to me, "you do so much!", you know.
Q: What, you do A: Yeah.
Q: - for him?
A: Yeah. But - I mean he goes - I mean - if ever, I've got to admit - I mean, I'll do sort of
practical things, I mean I won't wash his socks and that but I mean I'll make sure that you know, I get things for him and just - just - I actually think it's not being selfish, but I
mean he - and then again, he always helps me, like with any work I've got to do, like if
I've to do a meeting or whatever, he'll help me in that sense and - when I was at college
like he sorted me out loads of books and things and I mean - he does do things.
Q: Does he talk about love?
A: No. He's only ever said he loved me about five times or six times since I've gone out
with him. But I suppose it's better than when someone's saying it every day.
Q: Yeah, then you wonder if it means anything at all.
A: Yeah. He's always said it at good times, so - I really like to hear it. Sometimes I get a
bit - if he hasn't said it for about seven months then I start getting a bit (?) furious - "say
it, say it", you know. And then he sort of says, "no, I'm not. Why should I? I don't wanna
say it to you, why should I say it?" - you know.
Q: Not on demand.

A: Yeah. Get a bit childish, I think. But then I used to say it a lot to DAMIAN, but I don't
think I - I don't feel the same way about it. 'Cos I wasn't really that attracted - attractive attracted to DAMIAN physically, after a little while. Even though I went out with him for
two years. But with GARY, you know, I am still - I mean I'm going out with him, you
know, two years now, and just as much and even more so than I was when I first met
him. 'Cos I knew GARY before and I always used to think he was an idiot. (Laugh) I
used to really think - not an idiot, I just think - used to think he was alright, you know, no
big deal. It sort of, like, increased. I've never actually met anyone and I've liked them
more as it's gone on, I've always liked them less. I've actually Q: But this is more.
A: Yeah.
Q: And has the - in terms of the sexuality, has that increased as well, that you've A: No, it's declined. It's funny, the love goes up and the sex goes down. Yeah. We were
never sort of rabbits - ... you know, not like that, I mean, you know, I've never - we
already - 'cos when we first met we used to do so many like different things, you know,
we were always out every night and, you know, so I mean that was better than just
doing all of that really. Got to know him a lot better. Yeah. I would say it's gone down a
bit. But then again, it's sort of like up and down, it's not like a pattern, it doesn't follow like they're not once a week. You know, sometimes you sit there, and you say, oh, once
a week, you know. Sometimes we might not have sex for three weeks and then over the
weekend or whatever, you know - depends how lucky I am, or unlucky. (laugh)
Q: What does that depend on?
A: Oh, I don't know. How much I've had to drink I suppose.
Q: What - you what?
A: How much I've had to drink. It's always a bit - sort of sounds a bit crude, but I mean just - how tired we are. It depends what we've got to do in the morning, who's got to get
up. Whether I wanna stay in my own room, whatever. So. I mean it's not like a big deal;
if I say I'm going to bed and I go to my room, then that's it, he doesn't say... or anything,
you know.
Q: So do you think when you're actually living there it'll get - it'll change?
A: I can imagine - no, not really. I think we'll worry less about it. And also because when
you're - I'm around him all the time, you know, and I sit and watch telly with him and
that, I've got that physical contact, and sometimes - some people just have sex 'cos
that's the only physical contact they get, so that's why they have a need for it, but
because I've got contact with him in other ways, you know, that I can sit - I mean he can
sit on my lap and watch the telly or whatever, you know, or we just joke about in the
kitchen whatever we're doing, because there's that contact there we don't necessarily
need to sleep together. We get on in that way. So, I mean, it's alright.
Q: What do you see as - do you see a sort of future planning out in terms of your work
and A: No, I don't really like to. Workwise, yeah - workwise, yeah. I know that I'm gonna go
into nursing.
Q: What, and get a degree?
A: Yeah.
Q: And then do you think you'd stay being a nurse or A: No -

Q: - can you go into other things?
A: - you can do - I mean, you can go into other things, I mean I would like - that place I
was talking about, London Lighthouse, I mean I'd like to actually do, you know, some
sort of nursing related to AIDS patients in a way. I mean I don't know how seriously I'd
take that when I actually know, you know, what it involves or whatever, but on the
surface I'd say it would probably interest me, you know. 'Cos I think it's important that
people have a positive attitude to it and I think that I have anyway, you know. I could
help once I've been through my training. But I mean, in terms of relationships, I wouldn't
really wanna plan, I don't think we should presume anything of anybody really.
Q: I mean do you see marriage and children as part of your A: Not with GARY. Not - not with any - not marriage, no. No. I don't think I'll get married.
Never thought about it - even - even though I like GARY very much I've never... you
know Q: Does he want it?
A: No.
Q: I mean - I don't mean necessarily with you, I mean...
A: No, never, he says, this is what he says. GARY tries to be very sort of - the opposite
of everything, you know, you'd expect, you know, a man to be. You know, he doesn't try
to be sort of macho and he doesn't try to sort of tell me what to do, and he doesn't try to
sort of have that image, you know, "you're mine" and all that, you know, it's not - it's not
- we're just good friends. He doesn't think about marriage.
Q: And do you think you'll change at all in terms of your kind of relationships, sexual
behaviour, things like that, say if the relationship with GARY did finish for whatever
A: I can't imagine that I'd do what I've done over the previous years and go into another
serious relationship, I don't think I would. No, I don't think I would. I've never - I'm not
that interested in men, do you know what I mean? I mean I sort of - I never actually - all
the relationships I've had, I don't know how I ever get into them because I don't ever go
out and sort of consciously say to myself, "oh I'm gonna have a relationship with this
person". It just happens. You know.
Q: So you don't envisage yourself sort of going out, having a good time sort of thing, but
with lots of people and - ?
A: No, I mean I don't - just I'm quite happy to be with my friends.
Q: And if you had to describe yourself - I don't know if you can do this... - what sort of
person would you describe yourself as? It's a bit like putting yourself into somebody
else's shoes, saying this is what... like.
A: I don't really know. I know what I'm not, I don't know what I am.
Q: What are you not?
A: I'm not very independent. I always like to have - I always want someone to sort of say
"no, that's alright" - not - especially on things that I say, I mean, a lot of the time.
Politically I mean, that's just the stage I'm at. I suppose with things I do as well. I'm not
very independent. I'd say that I am quite strong-willed and like if I get an idea in my
head it takes - it's very hard for someone to shift me and argue me round, I'd say that. I
think I'm quite positive about the things I believe, which is good. I don't know what else it's hard isn't it? You don't really think about yourself, you think about other people. Don't
think about yourself.

Q: I mean, do you think you're quite open or extrovert or A: I'm not extrovert. I'm quite open to people. I do - I'm one of those people who tend to
make it clear if I don't like someone, which is not a very good thing. In a way it is
because then I don't have to - I hate pretence, you know, just like, you know - if you just
come out and say it, I hate people going... if they actually want to say something to you.
I'd rather it - they just come out. So I suppose really you could say the people that I'm
with are quite, you know, genuine, you know. 'Cos I only have people round me that I
like and anyone who I don't, then I don't - don't bother. I suppose it's alright. It's a bit
rude - bit rude sometimes. (laugh).
Q: And in terms of confidence A: Up and down my confidence, very much, very much up and down.
Q: What does it depend on?
A: My relationship with my friends, with GARY. And sometimes, I don't know, maybe it's
just sometimes it just like - just before a period or whatever, I get really down and then,
you know, for whatever - PMT, you know. Or if things go wrong for long enough as well,
I can't - I'm not very good if things go wrong for a long time, I'm quite easily deterred,
you know, in that sense, activity-wise. Up and down, confidence. I'm always surprised
when people say to me that they - they see me as being quite confident, 'cos I don't, but
then again I don't think anybody does see them self as being really confident, and if they
do then they're usually Q: Over-confident.
A: Yeah, not very - not - not liked very much, you know. You get these people just burst
into a room and straight away, you know, you know they're there. I wouldn't say I was
like that.
Q: Were your parents happy with what you've done in terms of work and relationships
and whatever?
A: I don't really have much contact with my dad 'cos I mean, I just never really had a
close relationship with him, but my mum, I think anything I do she'll be pleased with
really. I think she's quite surprised that - I mean I - to the point I've educated myself and,
you know, that I've been determined to do things. But I mean at the same time she
would have been just as - as happy with me to sort of do nothing, maybe.
Q: What did your dad do before he had [SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION]?
A: He was a [SKILLED TRADE].
A: Mm, yeah. There's never been that much, you know, demand to achieve
academically in my family, you know, it's never - never been a Q: Were they quite strict on you in terms of boys and stuff like that?
A: No - no, I mean - 'cos I - I've always - I always think that my mum never realises that
I sleep - that I've ever slept with any of my boyfriends. I don't know why, I mean I could
never discuss - maybe - I mean, maybe I could discuss it with her but I just feel - I don't
know, I'm just convinced she still thinks, you know, that I'm Q: What, a virgin?
A: Yeah, I'm sure she does. I don't know why. I mean, GARY was saying, you must be
stupid if you think your mum thinks that. You know. He used to stay around my place,
live round there half the time, you know, and - he stayed out with other - with other
people, but - I mean maybe she does know about GARY but maybe she doesn't think

that there's anyone in the past. I do tend to sort of like act as her little girl a little bit.
Well, I enjoy it, you know, I think it's quite nice to go home, and not having to sort of like
go out for a couple of hours, you can sort of lay there and be mummy's little girl again.
Q: Be looked after A: Yeah. Teas and biscuits and things. It's nice. You don't have that very long in your
life so you might as well make the most of it.
Q: Yeah.
A: Yeah.
Q: And she never questions you about anything, she's never even said sort of "oh, I
hope you're looking out for yourself" or something?
A: She made - she made a very weird - only twice I think she's ever said it, is, "I hope
you don't take advantage of each other", she said to me about - was it me and GARY? yeah, I think it might have been me and GARY actually, when I very first started going
out with him. I don't know what it meant, it just - she came out and said it. I sort of
thought, oh, you know - "advantage"! (laugh). It's a weird way of looking at it. But I also
think - I don't think she'd pry because I do tend to sort of say to her, "well that's none of
your business", you know, so she just respects it, respects my privacy.
Q: And obviously she'd have no idea that you kind of lost your virginity at fourteen and A: No, no, she wouldn't, I wouldn't ever want her to know that anyway, no.
Q: Did you feel it was important to lose your virginity or was it just one of those things?
A: Just one of those things. I don't - I didn't put any importance on sex, so I don't
suppose I would have put any importance on losing my virginity. I didn't have that
attitude that some people have, you know, "I'll wait for the right man". I never believe
there's any right man.
Q: Do people still have that attitude, or is it much more matter-of-fact now, with your
people that you know?
A: People that I know, it's just - well, CASSIE my friend lost it when she was about
eighteen - lost it (laughter).
Q: Sounds like... dropped it behind a chair or A: And it wasn't about waiting, she just said that, you know, she doesn't - I mean
actually she lost it with someone who she didn't - she had exactly the same response, it
wasn't worth it, but the reason why she waited is just, you know, she hadn't been that
bothered and she just thought, you know, she's not gonna push it, you know, it's gonna
happen. (Tape change)
Q: ... education. And in fact, I was going to ask you whether - I mean, presumably AIDS
hadn't come up A: No.
Q: - when you were given sex education at school, so A: No, it hadn't.
Q: - so how would - can you think how sex education would benefit, looking back, how
you would have learnt better about things?
A: I think in sex education if it - if it, you know, in school, could have maybe taught me
more about the fact that it's not just a physical thing, it is an emotional thing, you know,
that - that a lot of the time, if you are thirteen, fourteen, that, although you may not see
any problems within it, that - the fact that it's actually - ... It's not an emotional - it's not
an emotional problem but, because I wasn't confident, because I wasn't actually a

whole, you know, in the sense of a person, and I wasn't gonna get anything out of it and
it was just something that could have waited, and something that could have been more
enjoyable. I mean if only that I'd been able to understand - if I could understand what
was going on and how I was relating to this other person, that side of it, could have
been - you know, I think it's important. It's not just a physical thing, it is actually an
emotional thing. I don't think that is taught. You know, it's sort of like quite a sterile thing
in schools.
Q: Do you think that can be taught, or is there another way of doing it, or another way
that people could speak about it or A: I don't know if it can be taught.
Q: ... difficult being lectured about something...
A: Yeah. I just think you could be made aware of things, definitely. And I don't see why
that can't be brought into the classroom. You know, and I think, even though kids a lot of
the time feel embarrassed about it, doesn't mean they don't want to know, you know,
they do want to know. And once you get over, you know, that little bit of embarrassment,
I think, you know, that people will benefit from it really.
Q: And things about sex and AIDS, how do you think they would be most effectively got
over? - in the sense that a lot of people do, in a way like yourself, think that it's important
but it actually involves other people out there and never themselves, so it's a whole
population of people who think that it's always other people who should be aware of it.
A: Again, I suppose it - it would be bringing up people's levels of awareness about the
problem, actually understanding firstly what it is, and how it affects you, you know. And
also, just trying to stress that it isn't somebody else's problem, you know, that it is gonna
become something that, you know, is gonna affect all of us really. You know, you're
gonna know a person who died of AIDS or, you know, is HIV positive, whether it be
family or a friend or someone living in the community, or someone, you know, that you
read about locally or whatever. ...say that you read about them because they've got
AIDS, I don't know. However you come into contact with it. It - it's just about educating
Q: And do you think there should be more about different aspects of - of sex, sexual
activity such as, you know, like we were talking about, masturbation.
A: Yeah, yeah. I mean I don't - that's also another thing that's - it's always taught about,
you know, I mean, how - how is, you know, a fourteen year old boy or girl sitting in the
room and saying, well this doesn't relate to me because, you know, maybe they've
decided that - that, you know, as with SEAN, that he wasn't actually, you know, that he
was bisexual and he was actually questioning his own sexuality, you know, that it
shouldn't be put forward as, you know, it's always man and woman; the fact of the
matter is that you can have - you can be attracted and want to have a physical
relationship with another woman or with another man, you know, and to explore that
and to talk about that. It's not just about a bit box of - it's about emotions and the way
people relate to each other.
Q: Which I think often teachers and people do find very difficult as well, it's not just that
they're refusing to teach it, it's just that it's quite tricky probably to actually stand in front
of the class A: (laugh)... I wouldn't like to do it myself, but - I suppose I mean you could do - I mean
there's - there's a number of ways you could do it, you know, just bringing people out

from outside to talk about it or videos, you know, or books that aren't just - I always
remember there was this book and it was like a puzzle, and like it was talking - it was
like there was one with like a - the puzzle was going in, and a bit of it slotted in, and that
was it, you know, and that was sort of, that's how intercourse took place, you know. This
was - (laugh) - it was hilarious, when you think about it. Really funny. I think they went
into more sort of like details of the sexual practices of a rat or something, you know, it's
all very well for them to tell you the breed - you know, how a rat breeds and everything
else and - just this whole stigma about it, you know, it's just Q: And things like sexually transmitted diseases, did they...?
A: We had the leaflets, you know you get the leaflets Q: Oh, yeah.
A: - but that was also very brief, very brief. I think I remember - I think they only talked
about - I remember syphilis, but that was because... talked about its overall effect on
you. You know, I remember the teacher talked about that she knew someone who
worked in a hospital who had syphilis and it was - they didn't have syphilis, but they
were treated - an old tramp came in and when they removed the top of his hat - I don't
know if it's true or whether... pass through, you know, got exaggerated - but the top - the
head - ... syphilis that he'd - his skull had started to - to become very soft, I don't know.
Is that the one that affects you - ?
Q: Well, syphilis I think is the most - there's gonorrhea and syphilis A: Yeah, but the one that kills you eventually Q: Syphilis...
A: Yeah, it was just that - the effect it had had Q: - if it's untreated A: Yeah... hat. He wouldn't let them take it off, and that's what - I think that's the only
thing that in my sexual education that really stuck in my head, you know. If you get
syphilis, you know, wear a hat. (laughter)
Q: ...
A: Yeah. Well, maybe it's just this story that she thought, you know, she'd scare us so
much there was no way we'd ever - but - yeah, it was just about not taking, not just
seeing sex - you know, there's a whole number of issues, like, you know, like a tree, and
all these things that come off from it, you know, all different branches of it.
Q: Do any of your friends now kind of talk about AIDS as a - as kind of an anxiety that
they might have, or is it just not really relevant?
A: Not really. No. I don't think that - no. I can't Q: And are they actually kind of having sexual relationships as well?
A: Well, I mean, my two gay friends - I mean I would say from them I can see that
they've changed actually. One of them has actually been in a relationship for quite a
while but was quite promiscuous - I mean, I don't know why, I mean it's only - maybe
they've just changed, but I mean - and their level of awareness is, you know, quite up, I
think. Yeah. But it's not sort of - I mean, maybe that's just because they are - they are
gay, I don't - I'm not saying that's a good thing, I'm not saying my friends, if they're
straight, then they... have to have a lower level of awareness, you know, 'cos it's
affecting everybody now.
Q: But do you think people do take notice of campaigns?

A: I just - I think it was ridiculous, the one run by the government, and I think - the big
mountain and Q: What, the iceberg?
A: Yeah, the iceberg, I mean, yeah, I think you would take notice. But I mean that - that
campaign was just ridiculous, you know, it was just to scare people, it didn't actually
explain anything. Just put the frighteners up you, you know. But I think people do take
notice of campaigns, yeah. If it's a good enough and effective campaign, then definitely,
Q: Can you think of anything else that we haven't talked about that relates to A: Not really. I mean the only things that I thought about coming up here was like the
AIDS thing and my, you know, my attitude towards it. Probably talked a load of rubbish
anyway! No, I can't think of anything else.
LSFS31 Interviewed at Institute of Educ.

4. 10.89

Met her on the steps of the Institute. It was our second attempt. She's gone on holiday last
time without cancelling the appointment. Aged 20. Straight reddish hair to below her ears,
large silver hooped ear-rings, black skirt and tights, and grey Levi shirt. Wearing bright red
lipstick. Was working [IN HEALTHCARE] when we first made contact. She is now taking
Biology A-Level and more GCSEs at [NAME OF COLLEGE]. Wants to go into nursing, but to
get a nursing degree, on something called Project 2000 which has just started. Thinks she
might have got a place at [NAME OF HOSPITAL].
Is in the process of moving into flat where her boyfriend (a 3rd year student at [NAME OF
UNIVERSITY]) lives, together with a woman [SKILLED TRADE]. She'll have her own room.
Part of the reason for moving there is because her own situation is becoming untenable. Her
parents only have a 2 bedroomed flat, her father had [SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION] 5
years ago so has to have his own room, so she has shared a bedroom with her mother ever
since. Was OK at first but now needs her own space.
Has been going with boyfriend about 2 years, seems quite steady but doesn't necessarily
see the future as being with him. Both in SWP, and she's involved in it at college. Thinks her
political views have been important in her development of confidence etc. like understanding
women's oppression.
Has had a couple of incidences when she's had unwilling sex, but described this as being
her fault as for, instance, once this guy walked her home and she had sex because she felt it
was expected and she felt sorry for him, but she didn't want to and wished she hadn't.
Thinks she wouldn't do that now.
Said her current boyfriend is her second longterm relationship, the previous was when she
was 16-18, and then she remembered another which lasted for 6 or 7 months, which could
be termed as 'longterm' as she was only 14. He was the one she first had sex with. Doesn't
see sex as any great thing, really prefers kissing and cuddling, Likes it best with her present
boyfriend though. Thinks in a relationship that as time goes by, sex goes down and love
goes up! In beginning it used to be the boys who initiated sex, but now seems more equal,
although she says it's not that important to either of them, sometimes don't have it for
several weeks even though she spends at least half her time over at his place.
Had an abortion recently, happened after she'd completed q'aire (but nothing to do with it!). It
was her own fault, she'd not taken the Pill regularly, was aware she was taking the risk,
doesn't understand why she did it, is more careful now. Was no question of her wanting a
baby, and her boyfriend definitely didn't, Doesn't regret it. Thinks in general she doesn't take
risks, so this is not in character.
Is very unaware of AIDS risk to herself, and said she was thinking about this on her way to
meet me. Seems to have some understanding of the disease but doesn't think it relevant to
her because she doesn't sleep around. Would think of using a condom in future though, if
was thinking of sleeping with someone she didn't know. Didn't know much about the
campaigns, had seen more serious documentaries about gays and London Lighthouse etc.

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