My first memory of #206 begins with me in a tent inside the Forest, meeting #128 for the first time. It was the week of artistic space rearrangement and we were leaving gifts inside the tent in an effort to interact with the art. We were with a mutual friend, who we’ll call Emma. From beyond the tent we heard gleeful shouts of “We’re in the paper, we’re in the paper!” It was Emma’s stepdaughter and her friend #206: there was a feature on them as young activists. I loved the bit where one of them talked about going to the Faslane blockade with the intention of not getting arrested: they decided they would just skip around handing out sweets instead. “But it turned out that was a breach of the peace …”
I started to see the stepdaughter and #206 at parties and events. They had a habit of talking in stereo and they enthused about my tattoos and squealed a lot. It felt weird to run into these schoolkids everywhere and be aware that I was significantly older than them, but that was okay. I couldn’t help comparing my experiences growing up in Northern Ireland to theirs growing up here, and how they had spaces available to them where they could grow as activists and do fun creative things, and they always seemed to be involved with something cool. I guess I managed okay back when I was at school, but I think there were fewer options open to me, and maybe some of that was just an accident of geography, in that I didn’t live in a city.
#206 was avoiding someone, an ex-girlfriend or some similarly awkward person. She asked me to look over and let me know if she’d gone. “I think so,” I said, not entirely sure who I was scanning for. “Good,” said #206 and kissed me, taking me by surprise. “How old are you now?” I asked her. “Twenty,” she said, and I’d barely spluttered a “!! !” by way of response before she added “Nearly”, and kissed me again.
I felt kind of weird about it even though technically there was nothing wrong with it, but I guess that didn’t last long because I subsequently made out with her a few times. I don’t know. We run into each other when we’re drunk; it happens. I don’t think it’s one of those things that really needs to be analysed.