“Make sure you stay close together at all times,” my Mum says to my five assembled siblings as we prepare to brave the crowds who have congregated in London for the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Hours later, buoyed by the two pints of cider I’d drank while singing along to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ with the total strangers my extroverted Northern family had adopted as kin, my Mum’s words drifted out of my mind as I walked and talked with my younger sister, as we headed back to the hotel.
Suddenly, there’s a hand on my arm, and an Asian man is grabbing me — pulling me towards his crowd of friends who are all laughing and guffawing. He slides his hand around my waist and pulls me into him, leering at me and looking down at my body like it’s prime rib.
My 14-year-old brother Sam — a black belt in karate — squares up to him and pulls me back out of his grasp. My parents catch up with us and Sam explains what had happened. I’m shaken up, but otherwise OK. At the tender age of 17, I’m already oh-so-tired of being a woman.
Words by Beth Kirkbride