When I was a young child a little girl called Fiona Harvey was kidnapped from the same town where I lived. Parents of that town – my parents, my friends’ parents – clamped down on our freedom out of concern for our safety and taught us about “stranger danger” – as well they should have. I still walked home from school almost every single day, but things had changed.
My fears grew slowly. I travelled to the UK and felt able to take risks I wouldn’t have dared to in the place where I grew up. I lost more innocence, not because I took those risks, but because others felt entitled to abuse my naivety simply because I had it. I took a lot of supposedly far bigger risks that had no negative consequences for me at all. Travelling by myself overnight on a train to see Dublin, Stratford-upon-Avon, London… some of the highlights of my trip to the UK. I took myself out to dinner in Dublin and then walked maybe a mile by myself, late at night, across the city, to find a particular pub I’d read about, where I then had a drink and a conversation with a lovely Scottish couple and a pleasant young man from Cork. Right place, right time? I certainly hadn’t been as safe at our next-door neighbour’s house, or in my parents’ home with bars on the windows and dead-bolts on the doors.