Foreplay interviews transcript with audio.

As part of a collaborative project during university, Kate Feast and myself created Foreplay. A magazine that focused on relationships between the matriarchal relationships around us. We wanted it to focus on difficult conversations that don’t frequently occur and welcome them in hopes to influence our readers to welcome them as well.

Sonia: Hi, I’m Sonia, Amber’s mum and I’m 57

Amber : okay, you’re 57?! You don’t look it, you know dad is 60

S: I know

A: yeah he doesn’t look it either

S: yeah, 60 isn’t as it used to be, it’s very different. People tend to look a lot younger these days. I think people are a bit more free, so you know back in the day you were, it was like, you were a 45 year old  and you had to act and be a certain way.

A: yeah

S: Nowadays, you just have this sense of freedom to be ourselves, so sixties aren't always about how you look, it's about how you feel.

A: you’re almost 60, how does it feel?

S: Sometimes it’s really weird, because, urm, some people expect me to act a certain way and I don’t act that way, with the way I dress or the way I talk or the things I do

A: how old do people generally think you are?

S: Generally in my 40’s

A: yeah, because you’re going to be 60 in three years and I see some some sixty year old and they look like they’re 60+

S: They do say that black don’t crack

A: black does in fact not crack

S: It might have something to do with genes but in general, look at Nana she was 85

A: She was glowing on her deathbed!

S: she didn't have a wrinkle

A: I remember she was glowing 
S: relaxed, she was so relaxed 

A: What  kind of relationship  do you think you had  with  Nana as  two women?

S: Urmm Nana’s generation was really different, you know, they didn’t talk about periods and discomfort.

(As a useful piece of information my Nana was 86 and grew up in Jamaica. I grew up in a matriarchy with my Nana being the head of the family. She had 11 siblings all but one have passed away. My Nana died 8th September 2021 peacefully surrounded by a loving family)

A: Really?

S: Yeah, it was something that they didn’t grow up with, there was no knowledge of it, so women and were just women and they went through what they went through and I think that quite a lot of women have suffered through that, kind of going through puberty and being sexual or feeling sexual and it was all very hidden under the table, d’you know what I mean, When I grew up, I was a bit freer than Nana. Everything was still hidden I was quite comfortable with my sexuality when I was growing up

A: When you say you are comfortable with your sexuality, what do you mean?

S: Welll you know… erm, fancying boys, it was okay growing boobs was exciting, d’you know what I mean, it was good, Having periods was a horrible thing I absolutely hated it but there was so much more information out there that you could read about that kind of made you feel more comfortable about it. We had sex education in school as well whereas Nana’s generation didn’t grow up with any of that.

A: You told me you had a crush on a girl?

S: Yeah, I had a relationship with a girl when I was quite young

A: How long?

S: ehh 6-7 months, it was quite dysfunctional.

A: How so?

S: We were just pretty crazy. I suppose I kind of left home and I wanted somewhere to stay and I just got close to another girl who was in the same situation as myself really. I just kind of, I think it was more out of comfort for each other.

A: How old were you?

S: 13/14

A: Ahh, when you said young, I thought you meant 18, 19

S : No no, erm I was still at school

A: When you were younger there weren’t as many labels for sexuality as we have now?

S: We didn’t have those types of labels, we didn’t have non-binary or trans gender. There was a rampant gay scene. We used to go to a pub in Camden called the Black Cat where they used to have loads of eh.. What do you call them?... Drag queens! It was amazing, it was just the freedom, the freedom just to be and to have fun and just be around people who were kind of outcasts in a way and that was really exhilarating to be in an environment where you could just be yourself.

A: Were any of your friends gay, bisexual?

S: I think we were all kind of experimenting d’you know what I mean. Um but I wasn’t into boys. I wouldn’t say that I was gay but I wasn’t into boys. Their genital area absolutely terrified me.

A: I understand

S: How could they walk around with that in between their legs, it was just …yeah it was very odd

A: What about boys now?

S: What d’you mean?

A:I mean I know you're with Chris but how do you feel, what changed, when did it change?

S: What change?

A: How do you feel about men, boys? The opposite sex 

S: Um well I met someone who I really liked, I was 17 then

A: who?

S: oh Dominic, we were together for 25 years

A: 25 years??!

S:  No sorry, we were together for 7 years.

A: Where did 25 years come from??

S: I think I left him when I was 25

A: 7 years is a long time

S: I know but we were just so happy together and we were just, it became you know nice man, nice job you kind of went through phase, got a nice job, got a nice boyfriend, kind of settled, remember me saying ‘you’re not settling for this’, ‘it’s not happening under my roof’.

A: Well I was never gonna settle with him

S: You know what I mean though. We were just really settled, madly in love, we had money, nice holidays, used to out for dinner, hang out with friends, go to the theatre a lot. So we very kind of, tuned into life, very much tuned into each other. Em but then I had this side of me that just wanted to party as well

A: And he didn’t want to party?

S: No, so I wasn’t faithful, I must say

A: You cheated on him??

S: I cheated and then left him

A: Why not the other way round?

S: Because it just evolved, it just happened.

A: Who did you cheat on him with?

S: Who did I cheat on him with? Uhh this guy by the name of Aron, he was lovely.

A: Aron?

S: yeah, so I used to go gliding when I was younger, a big group of us. I met this great group of people and we used to go gliding.

A: Gliding?1

S: yeah this paper plane and you would pull it up with a winch, float around for about 5 minutes

A: oh you’re not gliding?

S: I was gliding

A: paper plane, do you mean like…

S: paper plane, right down the bottom of the park there’s a machine and you clutch, there’s a but winch, you attach it to the glider and they pull it up, release the winch whilst you’re in the air and you have a path you would take, if you find a thermal then you would go up in the thermal and glide around…i never did find a thermal, there weren’t many up there, none for me anyway, and then you would just come down again. I went for my licence when I was drunk

A: You what?

S: Well, I went to go for my gliding licence

A: yeah?

S: and we had all been partying, my friend said “You’re going” and I was like “no no no I can’t, I’ve been drinking!” he said “you’re going to go!”

A: Did you get it?

S: No, I landed in a field about 2 miles out

*both laugh*

A: Were you not scared?

S: No, ‘wooooaahhh’, once you know how the glider works. He was with me, the trainer was with me, but uh yeah. He was a bit annoyed because he couldn't control where we landed, they had to drive over, take down a whole fence, take us back, yeah, I didn’t pass my gliding licence.

A: Well that’s sad…growing up, when were you born? 1965, what movements did you experience?

S: movements?

A: yeah like the feminist movement?

S: yeah I used to be a strong feminist when I was younger, part of the woman groups and femininity in London, urm, that was quite exhilarating. I used to read a lot of Faye Weldon, kind of eh political books. I was kind of in it but not 100%. It was a very white middle class environment and I think because my education wasn’t that great I never quite felt comfortable around them. I was part of the uh 90’s rave moment

A: I can imagine

S: 100%. We used to go to all the festivals, spend all weekend going to house parties, getting drunk, high, partying hard and just eh living life really

A: Do you miss it?

S: Erm, No not really, I think everything has its course, d’you know what I mean, it has its course, I mean going out now can be really good fun

A: I don’t think it’s the same anymore, obviously you can go out partying. I know my friend goes out alot, she’ll go from one club to another and I can't speak for the scene right now but I feel like it’s just not the same. I feel like a lot of people now are trying to be what it was when it started. Trying to be the generation you were a part of.

S: yeah, I don’t know if it’s really out there because I’m not a part of it, but I mean, i’ve been out a few times to a few raves where it was older, more mature people, a gay club party thing about 2 months ago and it was an older group so kind of, I felt more intune with everybody, we all kind dance the same, do things the same. That was really good fun, but to recreate where I was in the 90s, erm I think it’s still there but me I’ve changed

A: How do you think being a part of the feminist movement has affected you as a woman today?

S: When you grow up in a family, a Caribbean family where the male figures weren’t very nice, I was always really uncomfortable, that's why I joined the feminist movement just to get a better understanding of how I can manage myself in my family. We were…what's the phrase, to be silent and not heard?

A: We should be seen and not heard

S: Yes, to be seen and not heard, you don’t really have a say. My mum used to say to me make sure you wear clean knickers when you go out because you know no man is going to want you and you have to look a certain way,

A: Nana said that?

S: yeah but that was her generation, d’you know what I mean?

A: Do you think she kept that mentality throughout her lifetime?

S: Yeahh, that's what she knew, and they became a part of her values and in a way for her it wasn’t a bad thing because it was about, you got to make sure you carry yourself well, and you always look presentable because that’s how people are going to perceive you. You want them to perceive you in a really good light. I think sometimes maybe her explanation of things, I think it was a bit more modern in how she expressed it, but I think it still held those values. So growing up in that household was difficult, and I rebelled against it…I struggled in the family unit, so did my sister Marcia, we both really struggled. We struggled to be accepted, you could say. There were all these complaints about us from our uncles and everybody else, like why is she going out, she shouldn't be going out drinking, she’s too young to have a boyfriend, she should be doing this, should be doing that, why have they not settled down yet?

A: older men in the family?

S: the family, yeah and the women as well

A: Why's it their business?

S: Because we’re a family

A: well, I guess gossip culture is quite big in Caribbean families

S: People have their expectations and they bring their generational values forward to now. Our mother had us in the time of the 60s and the 70s when life was starting to expand, people started to be self-thinkers, the feminist movement was there. People were becoming more expressive, open up about their sexuality, their gender and who they are. When you grow up in an environment like that, you can choose to be stifled and sit back and stay within that family network or you venture out and I think being black and growing up in a western society we grew up with different values from our parents. It was a struggle but it was a good struggle I think. I could go out and get pissed…

A: But you had lots of sisters, you had Marcia, Lorna, they were in America?

S: in Jamaica, yeah so it was me and Marcia. My sister and I  were wild.

A: I don’t know much about Marcia because she died when I was 6 months old?

S: yeah

A: What kind of relationship did you have with her?

S: Crazy

A: How crazy?

S: She was a year older than me. Our mum worked full-time so she looked after me and she hated it because it stunted her freedom

A: yeah, but you guys still went out no? But she had to take care of you.

S: yeah, and she hated that I think so she wasn’t very nice. She was nice a lot of the time but sometimes she was just a little bitch. She just wasn’t very nice, she would torment me and torture me and I felt as if I couldn’t breath when I was around her because she had this hold over me, so when we got older and I became this independent person then I fought back. I threw her out the house many a time, threw all her clothes out the window

A: Whatt??

S: “Don’t come back in my house no more!!”-

A: Your house?

S: me and mums. I would lock the door mum would scream “let her in, let her in”

A: Where did she live?

S: She had broken up with her husband so she came to stay with us and I’m sitting on the sofa with Dominic, my partner-

A: So you were in your 20’s?

S: yeah, early 20’s and she came in she had my boots on, jacket on, she had my dress and my bag. I just turned around and said “you know what, Marcia we had this discussion” I was really nice and she just shouted “RIGHT, that’s it” stripped herself naked in front of everybody in the living room “Have all your stuff back” and I replied with “Thanks very much”. But then the next day she did exactly the same thing again. I just packed up all her stuff and threw it out the house, pushed her out and locked the door. Took mum's keys, my keys, mum couldn’t open the door, “LET HER IN”. I said “NO, she's not coming back in the house”

A: Was this house, the one we’re in now ?

S: Yeah, we had quite a few moment but then we always came back together

A: But that's a big part of being sisters, you know ?

S: yeah it’s a bit extreme but I think because it was a family house she still came to house and we just made up and got back to normal again.Then we had a really good chat about it, I felt really intimidated by her, she was angry with me because I was the youngest child and I had the freedom that she didn’t have so we’re both had our issues. Once we spoke about it our relationship just grew. Yeah she was wild. She used to sneak out the house when she was 13 to go out and party

A: Why? Was that her rebellion?

S: Yeah she wanted to go out, she had a boyfriend, you know she was thirteen, wanted to go do her thing.

A: What would you do if I did that?

S: you did, I used to take you out to parties

A: Yeah but I never snuck out

S: no you didn’t have to

A: I had a healthy, to an extent, healthy upbringing

S: Well it’s either you can hide and do it or just get on with it and your mum is going to support you. I’d much rather know what you’re doing than not know what you’re doing. D’you know what I mean. I’d rather not fight with you because you’re going to do it either way.

A: when you had a child, were you like hey this is how I’m going to parent her?

S: No I was just me, I think part of it was like not putting the restrictions that my mum put on me and I knew I rebelled so when I grew up I wasn’t always in a good place. I wanted you to be comfortable at home, comfortable with us and not hating us all the time and wanting to get away, leave and disappear and be angry…like I was. It’s nice just to be me and let you be you. Some people didn’t always agree with the way I did things -

A: like Nana?

S: and your dad.

A: My dad?

S: he didn’t always agree

A: Really?

S: yeah

A: I never felt like my dad had much of a say in my upbringing

S: oh he used to tell what he thought and what he didn’t think

A: like what?

S: well like when you went travelling

A: oh did he not like that?

S: oh if something did happen to you man I swear him and mum would have killed me

A: d’you know what right, I always said, I was actually 18 when I went and that’s just a bit wild that you let me go.

S: well I didn’t have a say

A: to me it feels quite normal -

S: you’re 18, you’re 18 you make your own decisions

A: yeah but some people can barely think for themselves when they’re 18

S: I said, “I can’t make her not go, if she wants to go, let her go”

A: You probably could have told me not to go and I wouldn’t have went

S: I couldn't do that, it’s not who I am, if you were 17 and wanted to go and travel I would have made sure to put everything else in place to reduce the risk to you. I kind of understand when you go travelling, you go to hostels, you hang out with people, you’re not going to be on your own the whole time, you’re not going to be wandering around, just you alone, really vulnerable, you’re going to hostels, go out as a group, go out and have fun. 80% of the risk has gone already and naturally when you get high or drunk with your friends, you’re going to look after each other.

A: yeah, did you do much travelling when you were younger?

S: yeah well not travelling, I went on holidays, so went America a few times, went to Malaysia, went to Sri Lanka, went round spain, quite a few trips to Amsterdam, went to Crete, ehh not mega mega, kind travelled around England a lot, lots of festivals, spent summer doing festivals which was great but I never really went off and travelled. I couldn’t, I had to work the whole time because I had the mortgage.

A: So you had to stay here?

S: yeah I had the mortgage and responsibilities

A: At what age?

S: got the mortgage when I was 22

A: really?

S: yeah well mum was living in Luton

A: So did you buy the house?

S: no so mum was living with Michael (her son) in Luton, Michael got a girlfriend and wanted to move out..

The interview was cut off because we got locked out of the park

Anonymous interview

Where are you from? Are you married?

A: London, England - No.

Do you have siblings, and if so what’s your relationship with them like?

A: I have one half sister who's 10 years older than me, from my dad's first marriage. I'm from his third marriage.

We're close considering the age gap and the fact we always lived in different countries.

Was sex and sexuality openly talked about for you growing up?

A: Open enough, but even so I still hid everything from my mum, and subsequently went through a lot by myself.

What hardships have you faced being a woman?

A: Hardships such as unwanted / unasked for attention from men. Keeping sexual relationships secret when I was younger because of double standards in regards to

society's acceptance for men to have multiple relationships but the same is not granted for women. Hardships with the fact it's always a woman's responsibility to deal with birth control.

What was it like growing up in the 80s, how are things different to now?

A: Well I was younger so life was very different, it's easier for me now I'm older and have the freedom to do what I want. I also care less about what people think - I was consumed by fitting in as a teenager. But compared to now - I don't feel like I've ever been held back because I'm a woman, in fact I push harder to prove I can do it. Maybe I need to prove myself more? I think if you break the mould as a woman you get more respect than a man would in the same position. I'm sure I've come up against sexism in my career but I haven't noticed it as much as I've noticed classism.

If you could talk to your 16-18 year old self, what would you say? What advice would you give

A: I had a lot of fun at that age so I wouldn't change what I did. I wish I had a better education then but I wasn't in control of that.

Interview with Kate and I

1: What’s your mum and Nan’s relationship like?

2: Before it seemed a bit disjointed, but since she's been ill the dynamic changed.

2 : I don’t see them as a mother daughter relationship

1 : I ask because your Nan was the one who took care of you

2: Alot of my memories as a child are with my Nan, as I grew up in the village and outside of school, I’d spend my time there with her.

2: We’ve had a very different experience with our parents, Like yeah my parents are still together but they constantly shout and argue

1: Yeah my parents were together but only briefly

2: It’s hard to grow up in that kind of environment, although they are together, the strain of their relationship directly affected me and my sister.

1: Does that make you resent them a little bit?

2: Yeah absolutely.

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