Interview with Elaine, 22, White British, Lower middle class, No religion. Women, Risk & AIDs Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version. (Ref: LSFS30)
Anonymised transcript of an interview with Elaine, who has recently moved to London from North West England to work in police recruitment. She has been glad to move away from home, as her town was lacking in opportunity - it was typical there for women to fall pregnant early on and go on the dole. Elaine was married and subsequently divorced as a teenager. Her ex-partner had expected her to be a 'traditional' stay-at-home wife, while Elaine wanted her own career, following in her mother's footsteps. Sex education was largely from her school, with one particularly good female teacher who students felt they could go to with questions, though there were no 'deviations' from what was traditionally expected of women at the time in terms of marriage and motherhood. She regularly uses both the pill and the condom in her sexual relationships, as she is terrified of falling pregnant. Elaine has had a handful of sexual partners, with varying degrees of pleasure, but feels much more comfortable with her body at the moment.
Reanimating Data Project
CC BY-NC 4.0
Q. So the hostel's where you're living at the moment?
A. Yeah, WEST LONDON.
Q. And is that alright?
A. Yeah. Miss your privacy a little bit, sharing with two people.
Q. What, you share a room with two people?
A. Yeah. It's cheap and it's cheerful.
Q. How long have you been here?
A. Six months.
Q. Oh, that's quite a long time.
A. Oh, there's people have been here longer than that.
Q. Is that to do with your work or is it separate sort of A. No, it's just the police arranged it for me... down here. I was expecting cheaper
accommodation. It's subsidised by the police...
Q. So it's not all sort of people...
A. No, there's - there's a lot of civil servants, ministry of defence, that kind of thing, ...
do the same, just arrange for you when you move into the area, which is okay.
Q. So do you think you'll stay then?
A. Probably not. It's just sort of getting out and looking for somewhere.
A. You know, you're working with people that don't live in the same place as you and
don't want to live in the same place as you.
Q. So where did you come down from?
A. NORTH WEST ENGLAND. [TOWN].
Q. Bit different, down here.
A. Yeah, it is.
Q. Had you been down before?
Q. So it's really six months ago you came from NORTH WEST ENGLAND.
Q. And were you doing the same job?
A. No, I was working for an engineering company. Secretary for a local company.
Q. And how do you like it working at the police?
A. It's alright. It's interesting, I've probably got one of the best postings there is, so
they tell me. Experience.
Q. So do you actually recruit placements A. Yeah.
Q. What, are they like the police cadets or are they A. No, it's the - it's the - it's the regular force, the one they put application forms in,
and you do all the searches etc., send them through training school. But you get to
meet people just doing an office job.
Q. Mm. So do you think you'll stay there?
A. Yeah. Because once you've done so long you can move onto different
departments within the police so Q. Really A. ...
Q. Did you know anyone before you came down?
Q. So it's quite - what made you move?
A. Well I was just disillusioned with the... I had the one job, which was a good job but
that was all, I wasn't going anywhere in that job and there's nothing there career-wise
anyway, so I just saw this. And I didn't even think I was gonna get the job, you know,
I just applied for it and thought - and then she said, you've been accepted, I thought
oh... Can always go home. My mum says you can always come back depending
what it's like.
Q. So were you with your parents?
A. Yeah, I was living with my mum and my sister.
Q. So how old's your sister?
A. Nineteen. She'd just had a baby, so it was a bit overcrowded.
Q. A baby at home?
Q. She hadn't moved out with her boyfriend?
A. No. They just got married actually, so Q. They've just got married?
Q. What, so there's two of them and the baby?
A. Yeah, at my mum's, my mum's going up the wall - "oh I don't know, I've had
enough" Q. What does your mum do?
A. She works in the [POWER STATION].. It's probably what's driving her mad, being
at home, with LOUISE round and the baby under her feet.
Q. Is your dad around?
A. No, my dad died last year. Poor thing.
Q. Yeah. Did that kind of affect A. Yeah.
Q. - your sort of attitude to life as well?
A. Yeah, yeah. Get out and do something.
Q. What did he do?
A. [REDACTED], in a power station. That's all there is up there, just power stations Q. Yeah.
A. Two power stations.
Q. And you went to school up there and got A. Yeah
Q. - quite a lot of qualifications.
Q. What did you do, did you go A. No, I had - I had a year in the sixth form - I had a year in the sixth form and then I
got all I wanted and I decided to look for a job. I didn't want to go into further
education. It would have done me a lot of good but - it looks good on paper.
Q. So what did you get in the end?
A. Nine O - nine O-levels and two title certificates.
Q. That's good.
A. Typing was just sort of - I've got an extra subject, what shall I do, I'll do typing, and
I've ended up more or less making it my career.
Q. It's amazing sometimes when things like that happen.
A. I'm glad I've got typing actually.
Q. But you don't use typing that much in this job?
A. No, I don't use it at all now. I do on the word processor actually, on the computer...
there, I do it faster. Chance to show off.
Q. And what did - did you used to do when you were in NORTH WEST ENGLAND to
kind of meet people and A. Just the usual, pubs... that's about all, just pubs really. I mean I lived in a little
village, sort of outside the main town, so you didn't get a chance to do that much
anyway, you know, it's a little tiny place... discos... nearest cinemas six miles away -
Q. So there was no cinema to go to after...?
A. ... no cinema... [TOWN].
Q. So what do people do? I suppose it's pubs and hang about.
A. That's it, that's what spoilt [TOWN] because all the - the dole, there's a lot of
people on the dole, they all come to [TOWN] and it's just degenerate, it's really gone
down, there isn't anything else to do in the place. If you want bingo you're laughing,
but that's about all, it's terrible.
Q. So do a lot of people like you move away?
A. Yeah. You sort of get the two areas where you get the - the young girls have kids
and they're stuck there on the dole, and then you get the people who are smart and
move out, even only as far as Preston or Manchester. A lot of people I went to school
with that have done that, gone away. A lot of them end up going back though...
Q. What, to have children and settle down there?
A. Yeah, settle down there. Because - probably because the prices apart from
anything else. And once you get out there's some nice surrounding areas, nice and
Q. So did you think when you were growing up there that you'd stay there, or did you
think something different?
A. I suppose I thought I'd stay there... just imagine. I never had any aspirations to
move away. I always wanted a career, I never thought of moving away.
Q. So what suddenly changed that?
A. Well it was a culmination of things, apart from my marriage breaking up, that set
me off, and then my dad and looking - starting to look to the future and seeing
nothing, people just - why don't you go away, why don't you... do it.
Q. 'Cos when were you married?
Q. How old were you then?
Q. You could have done it younger.
A. ... Biggest mistake of my life.
Q. Was it?
A. I don't really regret it 'cos I've learnt an awful lot from it, I just wish it could have
been different, but...
Q. So how long did it last?
A. Ten months.
Q. And was he someone you'd known for a while?
A. I'd been going out with him for about five years before that. I should have lived
with him. If I'd lived with him I'd have never married him.
A. He just - I knew he had faults and I knew what he was like, but you think you can
change them, and he just wouldn't change, he was just set in his ways.
Q. So what did he used to do?
A. He was seeing somebody Q. Somebody else?
A. Yes, continually, he was just selfish, spoilt - he just wasn't willing to share.
Everything was expected to be done for him as long as he didn't have to do anything
Q. But was he not like that when you were - before you were married?
A. No, no, there was flowers and spending money on me here and there, everything.
No, he was - just changed, just changed.
Q. And was he - I noticed you put you were engaged, was that engaged to him, so
that's the same person you were engaged and married to?
A. Yeah. He gets married in November.
Q. To this other person he was - ?
Q. I suppose you wish her luck A. Oh, yes, I hope she doesn't deserve him anyway... not many people deserve him.
If he got the right kind of woman I suppose he might have made a good husband but
I wanted to do things together, I wanted to have a career and be able to do things
together, but he just wanted a little wife to sit at home and not be able to earn
money ... back to him and ... didn't want that.
Q. So did that cause rows?
A. Mm. Oh, it was alright while I was working - I was working six days at one time to to get money for the marriage, and then I felt, I shouldn't have to do this, if we're
earning a wage between us, and, you know, I wasn't allowed to go out. He could go
out on a Friday night and that was it, you had to sit in, the little wife has to sit in the
home while the man goes out and gets drunk.
Q. But couldn't - couldn't you have gone out and got drunk with someone else?
A. No, he used to phone up.
Q. What, to check up?
A. To make sure I was in. Terrible. Or I could go down one side of the town but...
down the other where he was. He wasn't gonna take me out, but I wasn't gonna go
out on my own either. Selfish, just a typical man.
Q. What, do you think he's typical of men, or of men up there, or A. Men up there but he was a - I don't mind typical men, I mean my dad was a typical
man, a woman's expected to cook the dinner when they're in and to do the ironing
and washing, but at the same time saying thank you and doing their share, you know,
but he wouldn't - he was just - he was a typical man but he was an ignorant, selfish
man, you know, he wouldn't say thank you or do anything for you or -he wouldn't when you were ready to cook tea he'd go in and make his own tea and leave you sat
there waiting for - oh, I can't believe it.
Q. Do you think that is a typical man A. Yeah, it is up there, yeah, 'tis up there.
Q. So things haven't changed that much.
A. No, no. Not at all, no.
Q. But how could women change, girls' expectations change?
A. I don't know because, like I say, there's so many young girls can't see any further
than getting pregnant and having a baby and going on the dole. I think a lot of them
are starting to think, oh, there's more to life than this, let's get out and do something
- ... but there's both sides, there's a lot of them that are going nowhere who don't
wanna go anywhere, the dole cheques suffice.
Q. So would your husband have preferred you to be someone who just wanted to get
pregnant and A. Yeah, sit at home and Q. - go on the dole and A. Yeah, no money coming in, have to ask him for money and that, not have a mind
of her own, that's what he wanted.
Q. But he hadn't sort of realised that you weren't like that A. No.
Q. - before?
A. No. I'd told him but he presumed that I was gonna be like his mother, see his
mother's never worked, she had ALAN and she can't drive and she's just a - a stay at
home, a proper mother I suppose, but then again - I don't know, that's all she wanted.
I wanted more and should have realised I wanted more, ... kids or anything like this,
but then he probably thought I'd change.
Q. What, when you got the ring on your finger?
A. Yeah, he probably thought that'd be it, let's settle down and keep ELAINE home
now with twelve kids round her.
Q. So - are you glad you've left?
A. Yeah. It was hard to do but I can - you know, I sit back and I think, I wish it had
worked, I wonder if it could have worked, or if I didn't try hard enough or if it was my
fault, and then a little voice says, you tried as hard as you can, and you - it was hard
to get out of, it was hard to walk away and face everybody saying, after such a short
time, my marriage had broken down; but my mum was very supportive and my (?)
nan said, well if you're not happy then come away. I mean I tried to tell him... but it's
a long time when things aren't going right Q. Right.
A. It was just a culmination - when my dad died, you see, he was he was awful, he
just wasn't there for me when my dad died, and he ... he was going out, and he
wasn't there for me, and I think that's the straw that broke the camel's back. I
expected a bit more support. I'd supported him when his mother died that he was
close to, so he knew what I was going through, you know it wasn't as if he could say,
I didn't know how to handle it, I left her, let her be, he did know and he just - wasn't
interested. It was just him, it was just ALAN, ALAN, ALAN, me, me, me.
Q. And is it easier now you're sort of physically away A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. - to kind of forget and A. Yeah. I still think - I mean, daft, I had a feeling the other day that it was some
important day, you know, and you can't think what it is and - wedding anniversary.
A. Yeah, [REDACTED] it was, I'm thinking, the [REDACTED], what's somebody's
birthday... Silly things like that that you - you know, it's his birthday [REDACTED],
and all these dates. I am - a lot more relaxed now, I feel lots better... happy now.
Q. Do you go back up much?
A. I have been doing. I haven't really given myself a chance to settle down here
because I've been going home so much. Well, my mum's been in hospital and a few
things like that, but I was going home because I hadn't really got a circle of friends
down here when I first came down. But now I've sort of moved down here and I've
started thinking about staying down here and, sort of, not severing the ties but
realising that I'm living down here, not up home; and like I was going home every
month or three weeks, not giving me a chance to start a new life.
Q. (Break) Anyway we were talking about kind of getting used to being down here
and you not going back home so much A. I think I'll do it now. I'm seeing somebody down here so that's sort of severed the
strings a little bit, you know, I can start thinking about being with somebody else
down here rather than going home to my mum every time I get bored or depressed or
Q. So is that somebody you met through work?
A. No, I met him at home.
Q. What, at the hostel?
A. No, no, at [HOMETOWN].
A. I come down here with the intention of finding somebody who's a bit different to
what's at home Q. Yeah.
A. - and then I go up home and met him. I've known him for a long time actually and
we'd never really sort of - hello as you walk past - and we got talking one night, and
he'd just finished a job and he says, oh, I've nothing to do, he says, what's the work
like down in London? So I said it's alright like, I said come down here and sort of...
which is handy.
Q. So how - was that recently or did you...?
A. It was about six or seven weeks ago now.
Q. And it's been alright?
A. Yeah, it's great, I've seen more of London since he's been down here than I ever
done in six months. 'Cos he's sort of wanting to see everything and when there's two
of you you don't - ... like on my own, you know, I couldn't be bothered to get up and
Q. No, it's much more fun to be A. That's it, it is, yeah.
Q. So has he got a place to live?
A. Yeah, he's living out at (?) LEWISHAM.
Q. What, a flat?
A. A one room sort of bedsit place. It's not too bad. You know what men are like, just
go out to work and come in, have a shower and go to bed.
Q. So he managed to get a job quite quickly.
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. What does he do?
A. He's a (?) [SKILLED TRADE], so... hundreds of sites in London, so he just went
round and got a start the next day.
Q. Easy. So do you go over to his place a lot?
A. No, what happens is he works ‘til nine o'clock Q. What, every night?
A. Yeah. So he works at CENTRAL LONDON and I'm at WEST LONDON so he just
drops off at WEST LONDON, have an hour together, and then he goes on to
LEWISHAM. Then the weekends.
Q. Yeah, I was gonna say, presumably weekends A. Well he works - he's supposed to work Saturday and Sunday morning, well there
is work Saturday and Sunday morning Q. Yes, if he wants A. But he said, I'm earning enough, I want to enjoy myself at the weekends. Work to
live not live to work.
Q. No, it must be quite nice actually A. It is, it is.
Q. - just exploring London together really.
A. 'Cos I sort of know where things are that he's heard of sort of thing... Bridge or
Tower or Embankment or whatever, I say oh well, I'll show you round, just call round,
Q. And getting back to actually going to school and things like that, I was gonna ask
you a bit about kind of things you learnt at school in terms of sex education. I mean it
looked - well it looked from your questionnaire as though most things you'd learnt
were from school and not much from anywhere else or from your parents or anything.
A. No, nothing from my parents, nothing at all.
A. No. It just wasn't talked about, not talked about at all. It's funny, it was probably my
dad that was like that because my mum and I are much - are much closer, you know,
we can talk about things like that now, I mean I know everything already Q. A bit late.
A. - yeah, that's it. But then it was shh, shh, she's expecting a baby, that kind of thing.
A. ... So sort of had to make my own guesses or from school.
Q. So which - which was more reliable, school or your own guesses?
A. School. Well I haven't made any mistakes so I think school must have been quite
Q. Can you remember what they did?
A. ... periods... It wasn't - well, there wasn't any talk of AIDS then, I mean AIDS only
come about five years... not much about homosexuality either. It just sort of - it was
more incorporated into biology more than anything else, you know, it was more -
there wasn't any specific sex education, it was more - you know, it was incorporated
into biology and childcare and that was it.
Q. And what about things like kind of contraception and abortion and things like that?
A. Well, abortion funnily enough was - we did that in Religious Education, where they
talk about moral issues, so... about abortion and then again in biology.
Q. What, from a kind of particular point of view? I mean were they...?
A. No, they were quite good about that, yeah, they were very good, you know, they
gave you both sides of the argument, you know, they weren't just saying, abortion's
wrong. It was quite good, the teachers we had were quite good.
Q. Did you discuss things?
A. Yeah, we had one particular teacher that was very good, she was - I don't know if
you'd call her liberated, but she was - she sort of had a good way of talking about it
and you could ask her personal questions you wouldn't dream of asking anybody
Q. That's nice when you've got someone like that.
Q. And could you talk about more kind of - not just the actual mechanical bits of it but
anything about sort of feelings or relationships, that sort of area?
A. Yeah, you could with her, yeah, she was very good.
Q. So did you find you learnt from that A. Yeah.
Q. - or was it later or A. No. I learnt - learnt from that, and then friends again really. You learnt the basics
at school, they were quite - quite good but - it wasn't an open-air subject but...
Q. Did they ever sort of trip into the less known areas of - of kind of masturbation or A. No, no.
Q. - oral sex or A. No.
Q. - all those sorts of A. No, no. No, that wasn't part of it. You sort of got married, then you had sex, then
you had a baby, that was it, you know. There was no deviation from just the straight Q. So was that what you did or did you kind of have sexual relationships before you
A. I had sexual relationships before I got married, yeah, yeah.
Q. And when - when did you start?
A. Eighteen and a half I was, my first relationship.
Q. And what happened?
A. I can't really remember it to be honest, it was sort of Q. - not memorable.
A. Well there's little I can say - it was in a bed without interruptions, it was alright.
Q. Had you planned it or A. We were just sort of - no, we hadn't planned it, we were just sort of building up to it
without actually talking about doing it.
Q. And how long had you known your boyfriend?
A. About six - six months, yeah, about that.
Q. That's quite a long time.
A. Yeah, yeah. I was very prim and proper.
Q. What were your views, did you have particular ideas about it?
A. It wasn't something that I could have just done with anybody, but I wasn't dying to
do it or anything, you know, I wasn't thinking, I'm eighteen, I'm still a virgin, I must do
it. It just sort of Q. Did he seem different to other people you'd been with?
A. Not really. No. He was younger than me.
Q. And was it his first time?
Q. And was it like you expected?
Q. What had you expected?
A. I - I think it was probably too early, I wasn't ready - I just expected it to be sort of
nice and warm and - and it wasn't, it was just sort of - I don't know, it was just - it
wasn't - it was disappointing, you know?
Q. Do you think it was disappointing for him?
Q. - or A. I'm very cynical about men now. I don't think - I don't think he wanted any more
than just satisfaction, it wasn't sort of a making love, it was just sex as opposed to
Q. So he wasn't concerned about you?
A. A little bit but he - he was - he'd only be about seventeen, so I don't suppose he
knew any better. Just sort of an act.
Q. And so did you carry on?
A. Well I saw him for - yeah, I saw him for about a year all in all.
Q. And were you using contraception then?
A. Yeah. Yeah.
Q. What were you using?
A. A condom and then a condom and the pill.
A. Yeah, taking no risks. Yeah.
Q. Was that - why was that, that you wanted them both?
A. I'd had a bit of trouble with the - with the pill and he was used to using condoms,
so we used a condom as well, and... sure about the pill.
Q. What sort of problems did you have?
A. I was bleeding in between, putting on weight, so - had a few types before I got it
Q. And were you afraid of pregnancy?
A. Yes, still am now. It was very very much in my mind.
Q. So it didn't - did it have anything to do with AIDS?
A. No, I didn't know about AIDS then ... five years ago there wasn't a lot of talk about
Q. And had you had boyfriends before that?
A. Yeah, I'd been out with people but Q. Yeah, yes, 'cos it - your questionnaire said A. ... very young, all we did was just, like I say, there was a little place and we were we were still playing (?) tin can murky and we were still kids at that age, we were still
going to the youth club, you know, we weren't drinking or anything, even up to
eighteen, and at school - we were kids, we were just messing around. A gang of lads
and lasses, just - I'm getting old now...
Q. ... So none of - did any of them actually want to take it further?
A. No, no. No, we were just out to enjoy ourselves. And when we used to camp out
and there'd be two lads and two lasses in a tent, I mean you wouldn't think about
anything about touching or anything, it'd just be - you'd be up all night in hysterics
and sex never even came into it. It was great.
Q. No, it seems almost unusual, in a sense that A. We were like country bumpkins Q. So what happened after this first relationship? Did you have others or did - was
there more? 'Cos I thought you put you'd had about five short-term -
A. Yeah... (pause) Yeah, there was one, one before I met ALAN, my husband. One
other guy. And then I met ALAN. Then there was one after ALAN and then the one
I'm with now.
Q. And what about kind of sexual relationship with them, did you actually feel - I
mean how did you approach that?
A. ...(pause) The other one before I met ALAN was - that was nice from what I can
remember. We had - we'd seen each other for a while and then we sort of - we talked
about that, and then I saw him for about six or eight months, then he moved away;
that was - that would probably have amounted to more. He moved away and I was
still seeing him for about six months after he moved away, and I went down there a
couple of times and he came up, and his mother put a stop to it.
A. Because she felt - he was - he was homesick, he'd lived - lived up home all his life
and then she'd moved down with his stepfather and he wasn't getting on with his
stepfather and he was -he wouldn't settle down there, and he was only eighteen, and
she thought that it was because I was making him want to come back, she thought I
was persuading him to come back; and I wasn't, I mean he was big enough to make
up his own mind, I would have liked him to come back but his mother put a stop to it.
Q. So he did what - what he was told?
A. So he decided for the best to put a stop to it. 'Cos I - well I didn't wanna move
down there at that time, I was at college, at school.
Q. Where had he moved to?
Q. It's quite a long way.
Q. And did you kind of - you said it was nice, what you could remember of it A. Yeah.
Q. - I mean was that different to the last time?
A. Yeah, oh yeah, a lot different.
Q. What made it different?
A. More caring I suppose, it wasn't just straight into sex, it was sort of foreplay and
leading up to, and we didn't always have to have sex, it was just - it was nice. You
felt like he wasn't just out for his pleasure, there was the two of us.
Q. ... And was that something, when you first had sex, was that something you'd
A. Yeah, yeah, yeah we'd talked about it.
Q. And what sort of contraception were you using then?
A. Same again, the pill and a condom.
Q. And that's for the same reason?
A. Yeah, yeah. He was sensible about it. Like again he was used to using condoms
and he didn't mind, so - safe than sorry.
Q. What, that you might get pregnant?
Q. And do you still feel like that now?
A. Yeah. I'd hate that.
Q. Why would you hate it?
A. Well I just - I'm not ready for children, I don't - I don't particularly - at this moment I
don't want children.
A. I know - I know I'm not ready because I'm too selfish at the moment, I couldn't give
it all up. I mean even when I look after LOUISE’s baby, she's fine for an hour and
everything... I'm just not, not ready for kids now...
Q. Do you think you will in the future?
A. Not in the immediate future. I've been taught well, you see, my mum was thirty
before she had me, she had a career and then she had us and she sort of - you don't
need to have kids... there's plenty of time when you're older, get yourself a career.
Get yourself straightened out before kids, there's plenty of time yet.
Q. What did she do?
A. She was a [CARING PROFESSION]... She says, to think I gave all that up for you
Q. Has she gone back?
A. No, no... 'Cos she stayed at home with us all the time, you know, she gave it up,
she was gonna be a proper [CARING PROFESSION] and she gave it all up, all up
for us and... she probably felt she was too old for it, to be a (?) [CARING
Q. So what did she think of LOUISE having a baby?
A. Well it was - I don't - I suppose it came at the wrong time really because my dad REDACTED, so LOUISE didn't tell my mum, 'cos she didn't wanna tell my dad Q. So she knew she was pregnant when he died?
A. Yeah, she knew, yeah. I'm in two minds, I don't know whether he'd have liked to
have known or whether it was better - it was probably better him not knowing. And
LOUISE was like seven months' pregnant and she said to me, will you tell my mum?
I was more worried about it as if it had been me, I said, I can't. Anyway, got to about
seven months and LOUISE sort of - well, actually somebody else told my mum, it's a
little tiny village and it had got round and somebody thought the best thing was to tell
my mum. She was disappointed - she just said, I'm disappointed, LOUISE, that you
couldn't tell me, but what's done is done, if that's what you want, then Q. Was she not showing by that time?
A. No, she never showed all the way through, not ‘til - she never bought one thing
maternal, she was just wearing her normal clothes. She's a big lass, but the doctor
just said it's all baby, no water. You know, if she stood sideways you could see the
little bump, but she wasn't obviously pregnant.
Q. Could just have been, you know, like... stomach.
A. Yeah, yeah. My mum'd never have guessed. She said, I'd never have known....
baby boy... It's up to her. It's all LOUISE ever wanted.
Q. So she's different to you?
A. Oh, very different. Chalk and cheese. Very different.
Q. What sort of a person would you say that you were?
A. Me? Shy, sensible,... I don't know. Sensitive, I suppose, things get me down
easily, I worry - a worrier, a worrier, that's what I am predominantly, a worrier. I worry
about anything, me... I'll worry myself to death, I will.
Q. Are you worried about anything at the moment?
A. I'm worried about my mum. She's just had a hip operation and she's - she's doing
great like, but I worry about LOUISE, being as lazy as she is, that's what I worry
about. I worry that I've deserted mum, I feel that maybe I should have been there to
Q. Does she feel like that?
A. No, she's the exact opposite. She's the exact opposite.
Q. So - you said you felt inhibited. Is that something you feel in all aspects of life or A. It stems from being shy. I've come out a bit now, I've come out of my shell a lot
since I moved down here, before I was very sensible Q. What do you do now that you - that you wouldn't have done before?
A. I just - things like going out and talking to people and - I would never have done
something like this twelve months ago.
Q. What, actually sort of answer a questionnaire and come and talk?
A. Yeah, you know. Just silly little things. And how I got this job for a start... thought
that I could do something. I always felt a failure. Sort of realise that I'm not, I've got
everything going for me and, go out and get something, you know, just think about
Q. So do you feel more confident?
A. Yeah, yeah, that's it. That's what I'm looking for, a lot more confident. Yeah.
Q. And is that affected by, you know, meeting your boyfriend and things like that?
A. That's helped. Got a good job and I'm doing - doing well at it and I've got money to
spend... I'm my own person now. 'Cos I've always lived in the shadow of my dad and
then I was in the shadow of him and now it's sort of - I'm out of it.
Q. And how about your current boyfriend? You're not in the shadow of him?
A. No. No, he's great. He realises. We've talked about it. He knows my past. He's
had a rough deal like, and we've talked about it.
Q. So he's not a typical man from up there?
A. No, no. He is now and again. Not generally he's not. 'Cos you see, he's had a
typical woman from [TOWN], who's had the baby and doesn't want owt else... so Q. Has he been married?
Q. No. So what happened with you and him, did you and him decide to have a - a
A. Yeah, yes. It was... probably about a fortnight. We'd actually stopped together but
we hadn't had sex and then Q. Had you done sort of other things?
A. No, nothing at all, nothing at all.
Q. You'd just gone to bed and fallen asleep.
A. We sort of talked about it. He knew I'd just been married... He'd been living with
somebody and she'd taken him for a mug, and we sort of said, are we both ready for
Q. So then did it work out?
A. Yeah, well, yeah. Yeah. Very well. Even now we can stop together and just fall
asleep together, that's what's nice about it, you don't feel pressured, you know,
whereas before it was if we're going to bed then we must be going to bed to have
sex, no cuddles or just falling asleep, that's what's nice about it.
Q. And it's the same for him?
A. Yeah, yeah, it doesn't bother him, it doesn't bother him at all.
Q. And do you do other things apart from having sex, or - I suppose what I mean is,
what do you mean - when you say, "have sex", do you mean sexual intercourse or
other things as well?
A. Sexual intercourse I suppose... No, it doesn't always have to end in penetration.
Q. No, there's lots of other things. It's 'cos - often or almost always, like talking about
sex, people mean penetration A. Yeah, oh yeah.
Q. - whereas in actual fact A. It doesn't have to be at all. No, it doesn't always.
Q. So have you explored more things with him or A. Yeah, I think we have. Yeah.
Q. And do you find other things give you pleasure?
A. Yeah, if I can relax.
Q. Do you find it hard to relax?
A. Yeah, I'm still - I'm very aware of my own body, very aware of it, all my faults, and
my fat bits and wobbly bits and... I do have problems relaxing.
Q. So does that affect sort of how you feel about being seen with no clothes on and
things like that?
A. Yeah, I still can't get used to that. I'm not too bad but I'm still not brazen enough to
just Q. It's like thinking that one always has to be perfect all the time A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. - I mean most men's bodies are...
A. That's it, yeah. He reassures me and tells me oh you're perfect, perfect figure...
perfect, if I hide... but he's good like that sometimes...
Q. But has that changed or have you always felt like that?
A. I think I've always felt like that. It got worse when he - when ALAN went - going
with that other woman, it sort of knocks all your self-confidence down anyway, and I
thought oh, I've only been married eight months and he's off with somebody else
already, it must be me, what must I look like, I'm not attractive.
Q. Could you ever talk about it with ALAN?
A. To a certain extent but then he was - sex... was penetration for him, sort of like,
you've talked enough, let's get on with it -(end of side) Q. So he didn't sort of explore what might be nice for you and what you were feeling
or thinking or A. Not really. He did (unclear) sort of to be polite I think, more than anything.
Q. And did you kind of have ideas about what sorts of things turned you on sort of
A. Yeah, but I - even though I was married to him I was still, too, I don't know, I didn't
want to deflate his ego, make him - let him think that whatever he's doing must be
nice for me... I let him get away with a lot of that. And if I'd have intimated that I
wanted to do something else he'd have wanted to know where I'd learnt all this from,
it must've been some other fella and - women just lie there and think of England, they
don't have ideas or Q. What sort of things would you have liked to have done?
A. (pause) ... embarrassed about that. Well just sort of, not the obvious missionary
position, whatever, just sort of - things that happen, just let it happen rather than sort
of, we have to do this. Things that just deviate from the norm, like foreplay things,
that, you know, it's obvious - it's obvious what's going to turn you on, but think a bit
about what might turn you on, things like that.
Q. But different sorts of positions or A. Yeah.
Q. - kind of touching A. Yeah, that kind of thing.
Q. And sort of oral sex type of things or not...
A. ... Yeah. I could never enjoy that anyway. That was - that was a bit of a chore.
Q. What, doing it to him or A. Yeah.
Q. - him doing it to you?
A. Me doing it to him.
Q. Would he consider doing it to you?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. Was that alright?
Q. And does it feel better - it obviously feels better with the boyfriend you've got now?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. Is he more open to A. Yeah, he's - you feel like he's doing it for your pleasure rather than just for his.
He'll stop and say, is that alright, or, you know - we talk about it a lot more. He'll say,
tell me if there's anything you want me to do or, you know, and he'll say, is that
alright, are you enjoying that, tell me what you want me to do.
Q. And can you?
A. No, not really. It's still the same, I don't want to deflate his ego really. I'm getting
better, getting better, but still most of the time I just - if I - if I didn't like anything then
I'd tell him I don't like that, I don't want you to do that, but I wouldn't tell him
something that I'd like him to do to me.
Q. Even though he'd probably really like to know what it was that
A. Yeah, yeah, it would... talk about it... He'll tell me what he wants as long as I don't
mind. There's still a little bit of...
Q. So do you think kind of that you've got control at all over what happens or A. Probably. He wouldn't do anything that I'd told him not to do... say I didn't like it
and he wouldn't try it again.
Q. And in the past when you've actually had relationships with people, when it's
actually come to your first time you might have a sexual relationship, has it been
something that you - you felt in control of then, or were you doing it for them or A. With ALAN it was probably he was in control... 'Cos I've always been out with
people that have been more experienced than me, not very experienced but ... sort
of... not many ideas.
Q. So they take the lead?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. And did that feel alright or would you have liked it to have been different?
A. It was alright. It was alright. Because I'd - I'd hate to suggest something and then
them say no, I wouldn't like that, you know; things like what do you want to do tonight
- oh, you decide, you know, I'd hate to say something and say oh, no, I don't... I
suppose I prefer not to take the lead.
Q. And do you think that's still the same or is that changed?
A. Now it's changed. Now I feel secure enough to be able to take the lead a little bit.
Q. And have you ever felt conscious of being AIDS-safe over the last few years?
A. Not really. I've thought about it but - not really, apart from if - I thought about it a lot
when I found out that ALAN was seeing somebody else, because I - I couldn't sleep
with him for - couldn't have sex with him for a month or so before I left him. I don't
know - it wasn't - I wasn't consciously thinking about it but I suppose subconsciously I
must have been, because I couldn't bear to know that he'd been with somebody else
and was coming home to me. And then like I said there was only one - one after
ALAN, and then the one I'm in now, and I knew - knew both of them anyway so - it
wasn't as if it was just sort of someone I'd never seen before.
Q. So did you feel that - that there was any risk that they might have been with
anyone or - (pause) And have you talked about it with
Q. - people, men that you've been with?
A. Yeah. Well, I've talked about it with the... I'm with now. We've talked about it
Q. And what does he say?
A. Well, he reassured me that he's - virtually no chance of him, as far as he knows,
he hasn't slept around, and he was in a steady relationship before he met me
anyway so - he doesn't think she slept around. And I had a blood test recently so safe enough. I can't see any - anybody that I would have got it off anyway...
Q. But was - when you say you had a blood test, it wasn't specifically tested for
A. No, no, it wasn't. I would imagine that they might - I don't know, I don't know what I didn't go for an AIDS test.
Q. So do you feel that it's A. No.
Q. - kind of anywhere relevant to you?
Q. Do you know much about it?
A. The mass media - I haven't really paid that much attention to it to be perfectly
Q. So is that where most of your information comes from?
Q. Which bits in particular?
A. Well just how you catch it, I suppose.
Q. So how do you - how do you catch it?
A. Body secretions, semen - I should have paid more attention to that I suppose. I
was just thinking that I'd never - I'd never...
Q. Do you know the difference between HIV and AIDS?
A. HIV's the - it doesn't develop into the full-blown disease. Oh, I feel really ignorant
Q. Well, HIV is - I mean it can, if you're HIV-positive, that's if you do actually carry that it may not develop into the full-blown AIDS A. Yeah. Carrier, yeah.
Q. And do you remember the campaigns and things?
Q. Did you watch any of those or read or A. A bit of it, I've been reading a few of them lately, there's some quite good ones,
make you stop and think.
Q. Which ones are they?
A. There's the couple in the magazine and something about - are you too
embarrassed to ask him to wear a condom or something, they've obviously just had
intercourse and it says you're too embarrassed, and it's talking about you wake up
the next morning and you think about the possibility, and then you wake up the next
morning after he's worn a condom and you - what you feel like the next morning. A
couple of them. And the ones on the tube - don't go far with - but I've never noticed
that because I can't see very far without my glasses, squint at everything - 'cos it was
such small writing... Some of them though are very good. Whether they work or not I
Q. Do you think that it could be relevant to you in the future?
Q. You don't think you might at some point meet somebody who you don't know if
they - I mean I don't mean that they've got AIDS or anything, it's just that whether
you'd actually worry about it in terms of actually embarking on a sexual relationship.
A. Yeah, I think I would, because this relationship's only come about by chance, I
wasn't looking - looking for a man, and I could live without a man quite easily. A
relationship isn't that important to me, especially now with AIDS and everything.
Anyway, I'm planning on settling down around now.
Q. You're planning A. ... I'm planning on settling down with the guy I'm with now, yeah.
Q. But you haven't told him yet.
A. No. (laughter)
Q. Well, get him to tell you, he'll think it's him.
Q. So do you think you might live together?
A. Probably, yeah. I'd definitely live with him, I'm prepared to commit myself,
Q. Would you marry again?
A. If I decided to have children I would, but the way I feel now I just don't think a
marriage certificate makes that much difference. It causes more trouble than
anything else, I think, so Q. To get out of it?
A. Yeah. It just seems that once you get that bit of paper everything changes for the
worse, that's just the bad experience I've had.
A. I just don't see the point in getting married. I think before I only got married for the
bed and because I didn't really know anything about life, like I say, coming from a
small place, it was just sort of the next step. I don't think I'd worry too much about
getting married again. I would if I had children. But I'm not sure about that. I'd like to
have children within a stable married relationship.
Q. And what do you think'll happen to you in your work?
Q. What can you get up to, I mean what's sort of at the end of it?
A. There's a possible four grades above me - three grades above me.
Q. That's a recruiting officer A. Yeah. ...Within our department. You know, there's - but you start as admin officer:
admin assistant, admin officer, which is what I am, then you go on to executive
officer, higher executive officer and senior executive officer. So I'll be able to go for
the EO two years' time and then work my way up. Like a career, I wanna career.
Q. Is it quite well paid?
A. It looks good on paper, and it's double what I was earning up north, but it's costing
me twice as much to live down here.
Q. I was gonna say, yes, it all gets A. ... but it's enough, I'm happy with it, I've just been going out and enjoying myself
so I haven't really thought about saving or anything, I should be able to save in a
while, I've never had to go without while I've been here, so I'm quite happy, I'll spend
a bit of money on enjoying myself and then I'll think about saving...
Q. Well, no, you want to sort of live a bit for yourself.
A. That's it, yeah, that's what I'm gonna do now. I missed - well I didn't miss out on an
awful lot, but I feel as if I missed out, so... please myself...
Q. Do you feel a sense of sort of being freer, what's that like?
A. Euphoria... It's great, I mean I haven't got to worry about disturbing anybody or,
you know, having to pay bills, I just please myself.
Q. Would you like to get a flat of your own here?
A. Yeah, I miss - I miss the domestic side of it, I love cooking and I'd love to have
somewhere of my own where I could do owt I wanted.
Q. 'Cos - go on A. ... just so much money.
Q. Yes. I was going to say, have you and your husband bought a place?
Q. So will that have to be sort of A. No, I gave it all away.
Q. Did you?
A. Yeah. I just wanted out. I gave him the keys and said here, do what you want with
it. So he's living in the house with her.
Q. But was it not in your name?
A. Yeah. I just handed it over to him... how desperate I was to get away.
Q. Mm. Yeah, yeah. Well yes and - yes and no. I mean A. It's only material goods... happiness.
Q. ... brain damage or A. He was driving me up the wall, driving me round the twist.
Q. When you described yourself and you said you were sensible, does that mean in
general you don't take risks?
Q. About anything?
A. No. No. No, I don't have an - I can't have an overdraft, I worry - worry about
bank..., I've never been involved with the police
Q. Apart from the job.
A. Apart from the job, yeah. The amount of stick I've got for that.
Q. Have you got a lot of stick for it?
A. Yeah, up home they're very - well like I say they're all on the dole so - police.
Q. What, do they see you on the other side or something like that?
A. Yeah. Yeah, traitor, yeah.
Q. So do you ever take risks in terms of kind of smoking, drinking?
A. I smoke, yeah, and I shouldn't do, but...
A. I shouldn't do that. I drink but I can take it or leave it, I have the odd binge now and
again. I never smoke dope, drugs or anything.
Q. You don't.
A. Never ever. I feel like a mouse about smoking dope and - no Q. What, 'cos you've never been offered or because it's A. No, cos it just doesn't - just - no, I've been offered it plenty of times. I can just say
no without even thinking about wanting to see what it's like, it doesn't interest me.
Q. And things about sort of risky like truanting from school or anything like that, did
you ever do A. I was always a goody-goody.
Q. Were you a good girl?
A. Yeah, I was a good girl. Yeah, I think - I wouldn't have time off work, going off sick
and things like that when I wasn't.
Q. Yes, 'cos in contraception you A. Yeah.
Q. Have you ever had sex without using any contraception?
A. Well the only risk - I was on antibiotics and the doctor said, well, I suggest you use
another form of contraception, and I had sex without using Q. But you were still on the pill?
A. Yeah, I was still taking the pill but because it's slightly reduced - once, and that
taught me. I spent a month worrying about that.
Q. But in a way you're on the pill and using a condom as well. You're A. Yeah, everything, yeah.
Q. - quite well protected from AIDS as well as pregnancy.
A. I don't mind using condoms.
Q. Some people really hate them.
A. It doesn't bother me. 'Cos - I suppose it's 'cos I've been introduced to them by - by
somebody - I mean I don't mind going out and buying them. I mean that's unusual for
me, being so blasé.
Q. Did you do that at home or only since A. I've done that at home.
Q. But before you were married or after you were married?
A. Before. Yeah, before I was married.
Q. And do you know anything about what's known as safe sex? (Pause) This isn't a
A. ... Safe sex means not taking any risks with pregnancy or disease.
Q. Yeah but sort of in forms - like how would you protect yourself by using safe sex,
what A. Oh, not - not having penetration.
Q. Yeah. I mean for some people it seems to just mean using a condom, and some
people, it's been used in the media, things like that...
Q. - but in a way that's A. Just foreplay without the penetration.
Q. 'Cos that's a bit like going back to what we were saying about sex often just being
penetration, so that's all that you could ever do. 'Cos that was one thing they were
trying to get across a bit in some of the AIDS A. Yeah, I read something in a magazine about that as well. Yeah. I do that now.
Q. I suppose it would be easier if we kind of wean men off the idea that the only thing
that makes sex into sex is penetration.
A. I don't think you'll have much joy there.
Q. Do you not?
A. Not from the few I've known, talking... If you could get all men paired up in a
steady relationship it might help.
Q. And do you think your expectations about sexual things have changed over the
years? I mean I know it hasn't been that many years, but since you first kind of got
involved A. Yes, 'cos now it's sort of relationships rather than - if you get what I mean, loving
relationships... rather than just going out with someone. Actually spending the night
with somebody, I hadn't done that until I got - until I met my husband, I was seeing
him, you know it sort of... whatever, like sort of waking up with somebody.
A. It's more loving than just an act...
Q. 'Cos how easy was it actually to have a sexual relationship say without being
married or living together or whatever, because people who are actually living in their
parents' houses, sometimes it's a bit restricting, to say the least?
A. ... It was just sort of when the parents went out for the night or, you know, things
Q. But could you actually stay for the night if the parents went out for the night or was
it just A. No.
Q. - doing it in the evening?
A. Just doing it in the evening and getting the last bus home. Just ... the night with
somebody. And even then I didn't do it that much before I married ALAN 'cos - 'cos I
didn't live with him, and ... parents were still - or my dad was definitely, no chance
there, and his parents didn't allow it either so - sort of now and again when they went
away for the weekend Q. 'Cos it's quite different in a way, as you're saying, staying the night with somebody
to actually kind of quick evenings, whatever, and going home.
A. I need to be sure with somebody before I could face staying the night with them.
I'd hate to wake up in the morning and think, what have I done here? I'd hate to do
that, I've never done it and I'd hate to do that.
Q. You've never done that?
A. No. And I just - just couldn't - when they talk, you know the girls used to talk about
going out and they've met so and so and they're going out with him, I just think, I'd
have to know somebody before I was willing to do that.
Q. And was it easier with your present boyfriend? 'Cos it was after a couple of weeks
Q. - but you'd already known him.
A. Yeah, yeah, it was, because I knew him, we were friends already.
Q. And did you stay the night together at first?
A. No, it was about two, three weeks after we'd got talking that I'd gone back home
again sort of Q. What, were you in NORTH WEST ENGLAND?
A. Yeah, staying at my mum's.
Q. Yeah. So he hadn't moved down here?
A. No, no. So we were just chattering and chattering and he got something to eat and
he came up to my house. We talked so much, we didn't even think about sex, and
then we just went to sleep together and Q. And how do you manage to organise it down here? 'Cos if you've got two people
sharing your room that's a bit awkward.
A. Yeah. Well he stopped at my place but he stayed on the floor, 'cos of the tube
strike. I'm not quite that liberated where I can have him in my bed in front of two other
people. Saturday night I stopped over Q. What, at his place?
A. Yeah. We didn't seem to want to, you know, sex isn't that important...
Q. So what's the most important thing, do you think, for you?
A. To be the only one. I wouldn't be interested if he was seeing somebody else. I
mean to be - I wouldn't be interested if he was seeing somebody else Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. - it has to - he knows that that's it and - respect's important, and caring, knowing
that he's not just out for what he can get... long term.
Q. And do you think these sorts of things - like you kind of grow and learn about
that's different now, you know, you're twenty-two, as opposed to when you were
A. Yeah. I didn't think about anything like that, about caring for somebody, a
relationship in inverted commas.
Q. So are you pleased with the way things have turned out?
A. Really pleased. Really pleased. My mum can see - she - "don't you be getting
married again, ELAINE, will you! Be sensible this time." Everybody's said I'm looking
Q. Did your parents know that you were actually having sexual relationships, I mean
before you got married?
A. I don't think so, I don't think so. My dad would have gone up the wall. I suppose
they must have realised because - that's why he was so strict, I suppose, to prevent
me from - but it wasn't obvious, mum didn't know I was on the pill or anything.
Q. Had they - I mean I know they'd never talked to you about sex, but had there been
innuendoes about sex before marriage or anything like that?
A. Apart from my dad being very against living together - he expressed... living with
him, I suppose that's intimating that he didn't believe in sex before marriage.
Q. So is there anything else that you think has affected your -your kind of attitudes to
sex and relationships?
A. I don't know, it's just - it's hard to explain, just seeing other people make a mess of
things and then not wanting to - I suppose 'cos it wasn't really talked about, I was
way behind everybody else. People were having babies and I hadn't even thought
about having sex. LOUISE was so different, LOUISE was younger than me when she
first had sex and she's three years younger than me. She was Q. Did you and she talk about it at all?
A. Not then. It's funny how when my dad died everything changed. Now we can talk
about anything. And I wish - wish that I'd had somebody to talk to earlier, I suppose.
Q. So did he kind of cast - not a kind of shadow over the house, but I mean his A. Yeah.
Q. - personality must have influenced the way you, like the womenA. Yeah, yeah.
Q. - who were the rest of the house related to each other.
A. Yeah. Yeah. It was just never – never, ever, ever, talked about. You know, if there
was something on telly he'd switch it over or Q. Something "rude"?
A. Yeah, something rude ... rude. Yeah, it was just not talked about it, "she's
expecting", "she's having a baby" - not even "pregnant", "expecting". You know,
you'd say so and so's having a baby - "stop talking about that rubbish". It done me
the world of good, but it hasn't done anything for LOUISE, my sister. It's hard to say
what's the right or wrong way.
Q. What's - what do you mean, what's done A. Is it good to be open about sex and then things like unwanted pregnancies are
what happen, or is it better to not - not talk about sex and have unwanted
pregnancies. 'Cos he didn't talk about it and I've done the right thing and LOUISE's
done the wrong thing. So if it'd have been talked about would it have made LOUISE
any different? Would it have made me any different? So you don't know which is the
Q. No, you can't generalise.
A. No. 'Cos people might have talked about it and still gone out and got pregnant.
A. ... more liberated. I've known people that their parents are liberated and they've
still gone out and got themselves pregnant. So... I always imagine that I'd be quite
open if I had children, but I suppose it's different once you've got children.
Q. Yeah. Also I think things have changed a bit.
A. Yeah, like I said, I can talk to my mum about it now. Even periods my mum never
Q. Not even when you got your period?
Q. Who went out and got the sanitary towels or whatever?
A. Yeah. I was -I was prepared for it though 'cos I was quite old, seventeenish, so I
was bright enough to know what to do. But it wasn't even mentioned. She never left
any sanitary protection lying round in the household... or anything.
Q. Was that the same for your sister?
Q. Or could she come to you?
A. She came to me a little bit, you know, then I was a bit embarrassed, but she came
to me, she still wouldn't go to my mum or my dad.
Q. And do you think that's sort of what it was like for a lot of families around where
you were or were your parents different?
A. I think my parents were different, from what I can gather. I think they were - I mean
at primary school you used to get a little slip to fetch home about sex education and I
was always the only one that always got "no" - you know, can she attend the film, yes
or no, and I always got no.
Q. Which meant that you couldn't see the film. But then that's usually on the
assumption that the parents will take it upon themselves to enlighten you themselves.
A. I would have thought so, yeah, I would have thought so. You know, I think, how
did I manage to do so well with so little guidance.
Q. Well, yeah.
A. ... won't be trying to find out what it's all about...
Q. ... late starters...