Interview with Karen, 16-17, White British, lower middle class, no religion. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LSFS17)
Anonymised transcript of interview with Karen. She has very strong, open relationships with her family, which is where she got some of her sex education - a lot of it was from friends too. There was some sex education at school, though she notes it was based on assumptions of heterosexuality, despite having an openly gay form teacher. Karen is using the pill as her main method of contraception, after her and her friends visited a Brook sexual health clinic. She would be happy to use condoms in future sexual relationships, and is enjoying her current one with her partner.
Reanimating Data Project
CC BY-NC 4.0
Q. ... can you just tell me a bit more about your family 'cos you were saying your father lives up
the road so presumably your mother and father are A. Yeah, they are ... but my father and I are sort of very close and I still see him quite a lot.
When I was younger he used to come over every day and it was - and sort of pick me up from
school and come back and stay, he'd help out around the house, then he'd go home, so it was
almost sort of like a sort of married family, but it wasn't. But my mum and dad still get on really
well and they still see each other...Christmas, things like that. I don't know.
Q. So have either of them got someone else that they A. Well mum was married about two years ago, but it didn't work out and he went back
to live in COUNTRY... It was quite a relief really 'cos I didn't get on with him at all.
Q. Did that make things awkward for your dad as well?
A. Well he wasn't really there long enough.
Q. So it didn't last very long.
A. No, not at all. Anyway, my dad - my dad didn't really mind, he was quite pleased, but it just
was the fact - it was just the fact... okay.
Q. 'Cos you mentioned you lived with your half-brother as well.
A. Yeah, he's my mum's son from her first marriage and my mum never sees her first husband.
My brother used to keep in contact with him...but... he's an alcoholic. My brother doesn't see
Q. How old's your brother?
A. (?) Twenty-one on REDACTED.
Q. So he's gonna have a twenty-first?
A. Yeah, we're gonna have a party...
Q. Kind of out of all your relationships, which is most important to you at the moment - sort of
family, friends, boyfriend?
A. Well my boyfriend and I aren't getting on as well as we were so - but... separated... I'm very
close to my mum, she sort of -I tell her everything, you know... and my dad... but I get on ever
so well with all my family, my brother not so much but I don't see him that often really 'cos... I
suppose all my relationships with my family is quite close.
Q. But - it seemed like your relationship with your boyfriend is one that you'd had for some
A. Yeah, I've been going out with him about a year and eight months or something, but we'd
known each other for about six months before we started going out with each other. He's - he
was the first (?) experienced boyfriend I had...we're still really good friends...
Q. So you're - even if something happens, you'll still remain A. Oh yeah, we'll still be friends whatever, go out together and have a good time and
everything, sort of... no pressure from sort of any other kind of relationship, sexual relationship
or whatever... something we both decided on...
Q. So it just sort of evolved.
A. Yeah, it was sort of like as we got closer and closer it came about sort of thing, and it wasn't
something that we both sort of decided on, it, you know, that it was going to happen or that
either one of us sort of thought should happen, it's just - we thought it was a good start for a
Q. So I presume - was that the first time for both of you?
Q. So was that alright or was that a bit nerve-racking?
A. It was a bit nerve-racking at first I suppose, because, you know, we sort of weren't quite
sure about things and stuff. I think he was more nervous than I was... I felt a bit uncomfortable,
but it was ...
Q. Maybe he felt a bit more sort of under pressure to know what he was doing or something.
A. I don't know. I sort of felt quite sort of safe about, you know, everything... contraception and
stuff before we started the relationship so we wouldn't have any mad panics...
Q. Was that before - before you'd even started the relationship really, not just before you'd
decided to have a sexual relationship?
A. No, no - no, it was quite a few months before our sexual relationship that we talked about
contraception and stuff... and we both decided on what was best and stuff, so it went quite
Q. Did you talk to other people about that too?
A. My friends and a friend - a friend was sort of going through almost the same thing at the
same time and we went down to the family planning clinic, and then we went to Brooks which
is for young people and they were very helpful, and, you know, my mum found out about things
and she wanted to know obviously that we were being sensible; and she wasn't over the moon
about the idea but...
Q. How did she find out?
A. It was sort of by accident really. It wasn't quite planned. She came home early one day.
Q. It was the sort of thing that you kind of dread happening, but you don't actually think that it
A. Yeah, well I mean I - I - I came home from school 'cos I wasn't feeling so great, and I was a
bit better,... and she came home...oh, my God, what is gonna happen - and she sort of talked
about it... and at first she just - she was really against the idea... And she's nice about it...She's
asked me sort of questions about, you know, personal questions about... contraception...
Q. Had you decided not to tell her?
A. It wasn't that I decided not to, I decided that I'd have to find the right time and at that time it
just wasn't, but - when she found out she was really understanding. She could have just blown
her top and tried to stop us seeing each other but she actually really likes him 'cos of other
Q. Does she let you stay the night or let him stay the night or anything like that?
A. Well, well his mother was more against the two of us going back with each other than my
mum was. And so -it's not something that we've ever really talked about, well we have, but not
something that... He spent the night a couple of times when my mum was away, but she knew
about it, and he'd just come back from holiday, so - and she was quite happy about that. We
actually had separate bedrooms which sounds quite funny, but we did. We were planning on
going on holiday this year, which mum was quite happy about... sort of thinks whatever we're
gonna do here we're gonna do abroad so it doesn't make much difference.
Q. What about your dad, is he alright?
A. Yeah. I suppose my dad was a bit sort of - was expecting it really and he was - I didn't really
talk about it that much really, it sort of came up in conversation and that was it...
Q. 'Cos it sounded from your questionnaire like you discussed quite a lot of things with your
parents, or at least some things had obviously come up.
A. Yeah, well, yeah, when I was - when I was a bit younger I sort of started to learn about...
friend of ours who I'm very close to, she's a friend of my mum's but I'm very close to her, and
she taught me a lot. She's a lot more open about things like that than my mum is, so I probably
learnt a bit more from her than I did my mum...
Q. Sometimes it's easier to talk to somebody who's - who's older but isn't your mother.
A. Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Q. So was the school any help at all?
A. Yeah, I suppose it was, yeah, 'cos we had sort of sex education and stuff (?) from the first
grade and it just helped... you learnt about the body and ... and stuff like that, so no great big
shocks when you started your periods and everything. And they talked about, sort of, you
know, contraception, we had quite a few lessons on that, and - and about AIDS, but most
people sort of knew about AIDS from the television and stuff as well. And the school's always
there is you want to talk about something, I had a very good form teacher...
Q. Yes, 'cos that's not all true for everybody A. Yeah, I get on really well with my form teacher, he was a lot of help about things, you know
not just sexual things...
Q. And did they talk about everything in the lessons at school, or - 'cos I noticed that, you
know, most things seem to be covered but some things like homosexuality A. Well, my form teacher's actually - well my form teacher was actually homosexual, so he - he
tended not to talk about it becauseQ. ... draw attention...
A. Yeah, or that, you know, the school weren't actually too happy about him teaching us. They
used to have lessons called S.E., which was social education, which he didn't believe in, so he
used to ... So - I don't know, I suppose homosexuality was sort of touched on rather than
talked about in sort of great detail. When they talked about relationships and stuff it was sort of
assumed that you were heterosexual and not homosexual.
Q. And did they talk about AIDS and things A. Well Q. - in the sex education?
A. Yeah, they did, but that was sort of in the fifth year that they talked about AIDS, because it
was sort of widely known and everybody heard about it, you know, in the media, there was
quite a lot of coverage, so... but they actually didn't know much more than us 'cos they don't
know, so, you know... My mum used to bring home leaflets and stuff... rather than having to sit
down and tell me I think it was easier.
Q. Sort of leave things nonchalantly... Yes, 'cos doesn't she do a - I can't remember, she's in
A. Yeah, she's a [CARING PROFESSION].
Q. That's right, I was gonna say she'd come in contact with information.
Q. Leaflets and stuff.
A. ...in schools and ... And she comes into sort of girls of - contact with girls of my age who are
sort of going through far worse things, so she knows what it's all about.
Q. And when - like you said you went along to the family planning with a friend A. Yeah.
Q. And were there quite a lot of your friends who were sort of going on the pill or things like
that, having sexual relationships?
A. I don't know. I've got a couple of really close friends, one of them's (?) on holiday in... and
she's had a relationship for quite some time, and another friend of mine sort of wasn't getting
involved or anything and it just happened that this friend of mine ... same thing, she started a
relationship with someone I knew, and sort of -we talked about it together... and we decided
that ...clinic together. But I mean there was - there weren't loads of us who were all sort of
thinking, I'm going on the pill, I'm going... you know, it sort of, it happened.
Q. And was it obvious that you wanted to go on the pill or was there any other sort of
A. Well, talked about condoms, but I don't know, I just wasn't keen, I don't really trust them too
much... it just becomes a bit of a hassle, and I thought the pill would be easier. And also, it
helps with periods and things like that which are really bad, that's probably why I take the pill.
The only thing is remembering to take it.
Q. That's true.
A. I've got into the habit now so Q. And do you think you'll carry on even if you and your boyfriend sort of... part?
A. Not indefinitely, for a while. I've got to go to Brook this month, and sort of- they're so helpful,
they discuss it with you anyway, what you're happiest about and stuff and I'll discuss it with
Q. Did you ever think in terms of things like AIDS, risks and A. Yeah, yes I did but I don't know, because my boyfriend was my first boyfriend and I was his
first girlfriend and neither of us had had sort of sexual relationships or anything, it wasn't sort of
a great worry. I know what transmits it, whatever, but I don't - it was on my mind, but it wasn't a
huge worry, you know, I'm not sort of promiscuous or anything and nor's he.
Q. Do you think, say, if you were contemplating another relationship now, like now this
morning, you know, after this one, that it would have more bearing like with somebody who
obviously might be more experienced or A. Yeah, I'd definitely make him wear a condom.
Q. You would?
A. Yeah, definitely. If they'd only ever had one other sexual partner I'd def - well, I don't know,
my - because my boyfriend and I were so close I didn't mind him not using a condom, but I
think if it was somebody else I'd be a bit more wary, and also I'd be a bit more wary ... other
sexual relationships... I don't wanna get involved in sort of long-term relationships at the
moment, got enough worries.
Q. What are your other worries?
A. Well, school, you know, my exams. I'm going off to university next year... and so - and after
sort of going through this one relationship, I'm really not ready to jump into another... to think
Q. Right. But do you think you would have the kind of confidence to demand that someone did
A. Oh yes, definitely. With something that important, definitely I would have to. Yeah, there'd
be no question of it. But I would hope that whoever I go with is caring and sensible enough to...
Q. Yes, 'cos sometimes the - like the actual situation is different to the theory A. Yeah
Q. - so that you -
A. I'm a bit wary about, you know, getting involved with anyone, I have to think about it and
have to know the person quite well and stuff like that...
Q. Which kind of seems the more - I mean not exactly important, but that you think about most
in terms of say the risk of getting pregnant or the risk of getting something like AIDS?
A. I suppose getting pregnant is my first worry, yeah, I was more worried about getting
pregnant than getting AIDS because AIDS was sort of just quite a new thing and it - it wasn't
something that was always on my mind, whereas getting pregnant was a huge worry 'cos it
was something - you know, what do you do if you got pregnant, the responsibility and stuff, but
as AIDS was more publicised I suppose I worried about that quite a lot as well. But not as
much as getting pregnant. It's the last thing I want.
Q. Where did you hear - first hear about AIDS?
A. I suppose on TV and magazines and stuff and in the newspapers.
Q. Was that the main source of information or A. Yeah, definitely, you know all those programmes in the evenings ... I learnt quite a lot
from that, and there was the leaflets and things, and talked about it at school and things.
Q. Do you still talk about it or A. Yeah, I suppose - not very much, I mean it sort of comes up in conversation but it's not a
huge, huge discussion type of thing.
Q. And do you feel that there are people you know who might be at risk?
A. Last year, when I was in the fifth year, I think there probably were some people who were
definitely at risk, but most of my friends are quite sensible and so I don't think they're at any
great risk. I think if they're at risk it would be from their partners and not through - from their
Q. Right, so it would be from the male partner... And how much do you actually know
about AIDS as a virus?
A. Well, probably not very much, probably not as much as I think I know or as I'd like to know.
I'm sort of aware of how you can catch it and that it may kill, and how to avoid it, that's about it.
Q. And did you ever get taught about things like safe sex, I mean, not as well as using a
A. Well we had one lesson, several times in fact Q. The same lesson.
A. Yeah, where the teacher got a little box full of different types of contraception and she went
through each one, saying this is what this is for and this is what - you know, yeah.
Q. But in terms of - I was thinking more in terms of the AIDS thing again, and like what you
understood by - when people talk in terms of AIDS and safe sex.
A. Well, either you don't do it or use a condom to avoid, you know, the man or the woman sort
of passing on the fluids of the body. That's about it really. Also, by sort of cutting, blood,
whatever -probably nurses are most at risk... and things.
Q. They didn't ever talk in your lessons or anything about - like just other forms of sex that
didn't involve penetration?
A. No, not really, it was ... The teacher got a bit embarrassed, really, and decided to leave it.
Q. Yes, I wonder how often it is that the lessons get organised according to what teachers feel
that they can talk about A. Especially with sex education, when we first learnt about it, you know, bodies and stuff, we
had a male teacher who really felt uncomfortable about having to talk about the male body, he
was so embarrassed, and sort of just couldn't wait for the lessons to be over and carry on to
something else. It was quite funny 'cos we were having a much better time than he was.
Q. And when - like were there any other - I mean I noticed you'd talked to lots of people, when
you said there were other adults, was that the person - you meant the person who's your
A. Yeah, mostly... Yeah, it was mostly just one person because she's - I've known her since I
was tiny, my mum's known her since they were at school together, and so she's always been
there. I've always found it very easy to talk to her. She's one of those people who you can just
talk to about anything, she won't be shocked...
Q. So have you ever felt that there was sort of something you couldn't ask anybody?
A. If I couldn't ask either of my parents... ask my friends, or find out some other way. I mean a
lot of sort of when you're learning about that kind of thing, a lot of it comes from your friends.
And I've got some friends - well one of my friends was a year older than me and she - she sort
of, she'd actually done it all before me, so I learnt quite a lot from her... and so we were sort of
close and talk about everything...
Q. And did they talk about things like masturbation?
A. My parents didn't, I don't think, my friends did... playground joke kind of thing, you know.
Q. But was that seen more in terms of like boys wanking or whatever A. Yeah.
Q. I mean it wasn't sort of girls masturbating talked about?
A. No, it was always sort of boys. But I mean I could - that kind of thing was sort of, even at
primary school,...but once you got to secondary school... you'd grown up and so you didn't
need to be told about things like that anymore...
Q. No, 'cos I - in talking to people found that, for instance, when we put masturbation on the
questionnaire kind of we were sort of at least half if not more thinking of like female
masturbation as well as male masturbation, but finding that most people just take it as being A. Yeah, my mum bought my brother a book when he was about thirteen and it was called "...
Sex" and I remember one day sitting down in his bedroom and reading some of it. I couldn't
believe the things - it was actually quite an education to me, I don't think he ever read it, but it
was quite an education to me.
Q. He probably still doesn't know how to A. Probably not.
Q. 'Cos - I mean I suppose partly what I wanted to find out about was whether kind of you and
your friends did ever kind of talk about masturbation A. For girls?
A. No, not really, I don't ever remember talking about it, but then that was a bit sort of
intimate, you know it sort of...
A. And there's things that you can talk about and things that you can talk about - I mean I
suppose, I mean now I'd talk about you know, sexual relationships and stuff with - with friends,
but I don't think I would talk about that. It's not something that sort of is mentioned, it's - I don't
know, taboo, a taboo subject really.
Q. And do you think you're the sort of person who takes risks?
A. No, not really.
Q. Not in –
A. No, not, not where sort of health or, you know, hygiene or anything like that's concerned. I,
you know, I hate having to worry about things and so taking risks makes me worried and so I
try to avoid it. 'Cos if there's one little thing, you know, it'll be on my mind for days, I try to avoid
that kind of thing. You know... not doing anything stupid that I'd really regret...
Q. What about in terms of things like drink, smoking?
A. Well I don't smoke - well I don't smoke but occasionally if I feel really depressed and I go to
my friend's house, just one or two. Drinking, I never drink in excess anymore. I used to drink
and I'd end up getting drunk but not very drunk, and I actually hate the feeling of being drunk,
so if I go out with friends I just drink a little bit, not a lot, I will drink to be sociable and I enjoy a
lager or a glass of wine or whatever, but I never drink to excess.
Q. It sounds like you did once.
A. ... I've never sort of, you know, drunk every day or regularly or anything, it's just if I go out
with friends, out to the pub or Q. And sort of not in terms of - I don't know whether there's any sort of drug activity that goes
on in school A. Oh, no. I know - I know quite a few people who sort of smoke pot or whatever, but it's not
something that I've ever - ever wanted to try... And also my boyfriend doesn't drink or smoke or
- he's completely against drugs, that's probably another reason why I don't sort of...
Q. Yes, 'cos what do you spend most... I mean apart from, when you're not at school...
A. I don't know, I suppose - recently I've been sort of seeing a friend of mine... she lives quite
near to me, we go through phases where we see each other all the time, you know, or hardly
ever. I used to go out with my friends a lot more, but I don't anymore because of the work and although I don't see them as much either. I spend - during the week I spend most evenings
sort of in, if someone comes round, or, you know, I might just go round to my friend's house
and sit there. And at the weekend it's ... to the pub or whatever, for a meal. I try - I try not to
watch TV anymore, it's not good for me. Yeah, I also do my homework in the evening.
Q. And when you get your A-levels - you assume you'll get your A-levels - then you'll go
A. Yeah, if I get accepted,... if not I'll apply for polytechnics. I definitely wanna
carry on with education...
Q. Do you know what job you might think of in the future?
A. Advertising... quite interesting. I'm not sure about journalism because I'm not sure that my
writing is up to sort of standard... Advertising ... not sort of designing adverts... Just wait and
Q. And I mean - it sounds like education, that sort of aspect of your life, is quite important.
A. Yeah, well, also with my mum's sort of job - she, she never pressured me into sort of
carrying on education, it was up to me, but my brother sort of was a bit of a drop-out at school,
he left school when he was fifteen, and he had a lot of problems at school, got expelled and
stuff and - I've - I've always been the complete opposite of my brother so whatever he does, I
do the opposite and I suppose that's one reason why I want to stay in education, because I
wanted to be better than him or whatever.
Q. Are you conscious of that?
A. Not until recently when my mum and I had a talk and it - and it really sort of made me think
about things, and yeah, it's definitely true that I always try to outdo my brother 'cos he's four
years older than me and I always want to do better at things than him. Even when we were
younger we sort of had competitions about who could - who could write the fastest, I mean it
was silly things, that I always wanted to succeed... It's like I like - I like learning, I like being...
going to school and learning something new, being taught and stuff.
Q. What about things like marriage and things?
A. Well sort of - my family has sort of never been happily married, my grandparents are
divorced, my mum's been married and divorced three times and stuff, so marriage isn't really
my thing. I'd - I'd be quite happy to settle down in a relationship, you know, living with
someone, but marriage, you know - something that sort of happens to other people but
probably not to me. Kids, I mean I really don't think I'd be patient enough to have kids. Kids
aren't really on my mind at all...
Q. ... play it by ear ...
A. Yeah, well, this friend of my mum's, she hasn't got any children of her own and so I - I'd
quite like to have that kind of you know, relationship with someone Q. - else's kids A. Right...
Q. Switch off and go home.
A. Yeah, you can walk away from it really.
Q. Has your brother kind of got girlfriends and A. He - he had a (?) spate when he had several girlfriends, all of which lasted about three
months and a couple of them got really serious with him, but he's not sort of into that kind of
thing at all and he - he always says that he doesn't wanna get married ‘til he's at least thirty
and he doesn't want children until he's financially settled and things. My brother's well into sort
of going out with his friends and drinking a lot and having a good time and waking up with a
hangover all the time, and that makes him happy.
Q. What does he do?
A. He's a manager of - he's a general manager of a video shop... a whole chain... quite a lot.
Before then he worked in a garage...
Q. And does he - presumably has a sexual relationship with his girlfriend - or doesn't he
talk about A. That's not something I've ever talked about with him. I assume so but...
Q. I was thinking of the difference between, you know, the response of - of boys, sons getting
involved with girls, and daughters getting involved with boys - what do you think? I mean,
would your mother have worried whether your brother was kind of getting off with his girlfriend
in the way that, you know, she was obviously A. Yeah. Oh, she was worried because she didn't want him to get involved in something that
he couldn't handle 'cos he was sort of -when he was a bit younger he was a bit emotional,
insecure, which he sort of got over - he had quite a lot of problems when he was younger, he
sort of – REDACTED .. and so it was all a bit difficult, like... my father... my brother, my dad
sort of spoilt me more than... my brother so it was all a bit difficult, so my brother is a bit wary
of relationships, perhaps that's why he hasn't got - got a steady girlfriend at the moment.
Although he - he - my mum often sort of talks to me about what he says, and she's often told
me that he sort of wants a steady girlfriend but he just can't find the girl that he wants. He did
go out with someone for quite a long time but when that ended, which really really upset him,
he avoided girls for quite a long time after that.
Q. Going back just briefly to - to actually like when you and your boyfriend were contemplating
having sex and sort of got contraception, did you - what were your actual expectations of what
sex would be like, did you have any specific A. I don't know really, not sort of like ... and wondering what you'd feel like and stuff and - but I
was more worried about getting it right than sort of like what it was going to be like.
Q. What do you mean by getting it right?
A. Well, just that it would all go smoothly without sort of any hitches or anything. I sort of - I
was really sort of interested to find out what sex was like, you know everybody talked about
sex, and what was the - the great interest in - but I didn't sort of think, I wonder what this is
going to feel like and I wonder what I'm going to feel like, or I wonder how he's going to feel, it
was just something that sort of came once...
Q. And was it nice?
A. Yeah, yeah. But I think it's all been nice because my boyfriend and I were very close and so
it's just sort of, you know the end - not the end but sort of the last bit of the relationship as it
were. If it - if it had been sort of a one night stand I don't think I'd have quite have enjoyed it so
much... one night stands...
Q. And had you sort of warmed up in the sense that - kind of in terms of sex can actually
include, kind of not necessarily intercourse but there can be sort of people actually exploring
other people's bodies and things like that A. Yeah
Q. - which doesn't mean you actually have to have intercourse.
A. Oh, yeah, we sort of you know went to bed and... and stuff before we had
Q. So you felt you knew one another's bodies fairly well before you - 'cos often, people that I've
talked to, the first time in a sense don't know what's happening at all A. No Q. - in some sense, do you know what I mean? Sort of...
A. Yeah, no, because we'd been together for quite some time, we'd got to know each other so
we knew each other sort of, you know, sort of - a superficial level as it were, and... Once we
had intercourse it was sort of - I don't know, it made everything sort of seem much more
special and together... whatever. And we always sort of felt that we were very close and stuff.
Q. And did you find that you were able to sort of have orgasms and things?
A. Yeah, not every time, but yeah.
Q. 'Cos that's often something that doesn't come straight away, or something that doesn't
seem to come at all but at the time... obviously it doesn't mean to say it will never come.
A. Well he does, but I don't always, but then a lot of women never do, it's not
uncommon. But I still enjoy it.
Q. Well it doesn't have to be the only definition of enjoyment.
Q. So had you had kind of a sexual aspect to relationships before?
A. No, not really, I sort of, you know, sort of kissed men before... I didn't want anything like that
before, like I mean when I first started going out with my boyfriend I - it's not what I wanted
from him, it just sort of came about because we got to know each other so well and we both
really loved each other I think. I was - I was a bit unsure at first because, you know, I was sort
of quite young and I was not sure what I was letting myself in for, and that was also my mum's
worry, that I wouldn't be sort of emotionally mature enough to - well to cope with it if it ended
or... you know...(?) give it everything... no self-respect, which actually isn't the case at all.
Q. What's A. Whatever happens I'll be quite happy about what's gone in the past.
Q. Were you sixteen? Fifteen?
A. I was almost sixteen. My mum didn't know until - yeah, no, no, she knew when I was fifteen.
My dad didn't know ‘til I was sixteen. But my mum - my mum sort of trusts me that if I want - if I
want my dad to know I'll tell him because it's sort of... open...
A. I mean - I mean she did sort of talk about it with him 'cos she was worried but she sort of there wasn't sort of behind my back sort of telling dad sort of... to get me in trouble. My dad's
also very understanding and sort of said, you know, it's your choice as long as you're not... if
that's what you want that's okay.
Q. No, it sounds a very sort of nice and easy relationship that you can have with both of them.
A. Yeah, it's always been like that, I mean I've always talked to them a lot, but it's always been
my choice to go and talk to them, I've never been... anything, which I've always respected.
Q. Going back to AIDS again - dotting around... - can you - like there seemed to be to me a
sense in which AIDS becomes very... people become very conscious of AIDS when there's a
media thing or A. Yeah
Q. - you know, the adverts come through or programmes on the television, and then it
tends to sort of die away then A. Oh yeah, that sort of thing usually does that, doesn't it, it brings everything into the spotlight
and then it sort of leaves it alone for a while, then it will go back to it.
Q. I mean do you find the same in yourself or your friends or whatever, that the importance of
whether you should worry about it or do anything about it sort of waxes and wanes or is it
something that has actually gone into people's consciousness?
A. I think if you're sort of having a sexual relationship with anybody, whether it's a one-night
stand or whatever, it's obviously on your mind, you know, how many partners has this person
had, you know, could it - could it be. I think it's probably on some people's minds more than
others, I think it would be on my friends' minds quite a lot but most of my friends are quite like
me, you know... don't get involved with... It's always on people's minds I think now, because
the media ... and because, you know, we're hearing about how many people are going to be
dying of AIDS in 1992 or whatever.
Q. Yes so it quite scares you, the statistics. No, 'cos some of the people I've talked to, I mean it
seems like it's important, but it won't happen to me, sort of thing.
A. Well I think it can happen to anybody if you're careless enough. You know, a lot of people...
so it would be quite likely. One of my mum's friends, her stepson's dying of AIDS in America,
so things like that, I mean quite close to, you know... you have to take notice of it then.
Q. Mm. Yes, you can't ignore it if it's somebody sort of that close... What's the job that
A. I work in a SECRETARIAL WORK ... (?) after school. I do the reception... photocopying
documents, filing, that sort of thing.
Q. Is that quite nice...?
A. I used to really like it, the people there are really nice but it gets a bit tedious sometimes,
and there's one person there that nobody gets on with her... but it's a friend of mine, her dad is
one of the partners there and so I actually know people there. I quite enjoy it, ...(?) pay.
Q. Yeah, I was going to say at least it gets you some extra money.
A. Yeah, I've always wanted to earn sort of my own income... that's why I work, because I don't
want my... to give me... Before this job I worked in a supermarket for a year...
Q. What does your boyfriend do?
A. He works for LEGAL SYSTEM... I think it's to do with... and stuff like that. He's actually very
good at writing and he - he writes poems and stuff and he's ... to a publisher. It's his sort of
hobby kind of thing, he loves...
Q. I think probably we've almost finished...
LSFS17 25.5.89 [NAME OF SCHOOL] Interviewed at Dalmeny Road
Slim and pretty, blonde shoulder-length hair tied at back of neck. Wearing jeans and a black
t-shirt. I picked her up [REDACTED] in NORTH LONDON after she had been to the dentist
in CAMDEN. She was quite self assured, mature and chatty. She's doing Sociology at Alevel and hopes to go on and take it at university. Her sociology teacher encouraged her to
be interviewed as good research experience for her! She said afterwards that her mother
was far more nervous about the prospect of her having to answer questions about sexual
behaviour than she was herself.
Her mother has [CHRONIC ILLNESS], although she still manages to do her job as [CARING
PROFESSION] to some extent and take a [THERAPEUTIC PROFESSION] course. She
talked quite easily about everything but got a bit embarrassed when I brought up the subject
of masturbation, she said it was a bit of a taboo subject amongst her friends although they
did talk about sex in general. She is a very sensible person, not into taking risks. She's on
the Pill for her first sexual relationship. She and her boyfriend had been going out about five
months before they decided to have sex and she said it had evolved. It is also his first sexual
relationship. At present they've been going out for about eighteen months but they are not
getting on as well as they did anymore.
Education is very important to her, and going on to university. If this relationship ends, she
doesn't want to rush into another long-term or sexual relationship. Doesn't want to marry or
have kids although she would consider living with someone.
She is willing to do a follow-up interview but not write a diary.