At the end of a pleasant evening at the Royal Festival Hall listening to poetry, we are walking down the road, chatting. The subject of conversation; modest swimwear of our youth. On a doorstep, a young woman sits, her head hanging forward, talking into a mobile ‘phone. Her hands are covered in blood. We pause, look at her, at each other. In a slurred voice she thanks us, but refuses our offers of help. Someone is coming she says. She lifts her head, and through the curtain of bleached blond hair her face is bloody. We wish her a safe goodnight, head for the flat and find the number for Safer Southwark.
C gives the details. It is her ‘phone, her flat. The men are in another room watching sport. She gives the details and is assured that someone will come and find the young woman. S watches out of the window and reports that she is on her feet and moving towards the main road. When I leave, moments later, there is no sign of her, other than the spots of blood that show clearly in the lamplight. I hope she spends tonight with people who look after her, that there are people, other than the professionals, in this world who love her and will care for her. But I do not know.