Her name is Hel and my dyke life begins the day we climb into bed and even though we are fuck naked, it isn’t my bed or hers. It is a mattress on the floor of a north London squat.
It is the summer of nineteen eighty-two, Boy George is Top of the Pops asking us if we really want to hurt him.
Margaret Thatcher has already declared war on Argentina in order to distract us from the strikes back here. As young feminists, we are in a state of shock to realise that women are not fundamentally kinder than men.
We are the most educated generation of girls that has ever lived and yet we are groomed for motherhood or sex work. Those of us not interested in either, try ducking and diving, fucking and skiving, bunking the trains, living off chips and whenever possible filling our pockets with free toilet paper.
I meet Hel picketing the Fallen Angel pub. Their management is attempting to bring about an end to the women’s evenings because dykes never have enough money to spend at the bar.
As an orange and pink sky turns the world Day-Glo I listen transfixed by Hel’s fast talking, real life, furious working-class politics and I know enough to know that I am dropping out of my degree in sociology to learn what this woman here has to teach me about the how capitalists fuck us up.
She takes me back to her squatted council flat, through the door with its fragile, fluttering legal notice informing the police they will have to go to court to get us out.
We are seventeen, looking for love in empty spaces, young enough to ignore other people’s taste in wallpaper. It is a DIY door lock away from being street homeless but for us it is everywhere we’ve ever wanted to be. It is an end to the furious fumble fucks, with our backs pushed hard against toilet doors. We are safe now because we are alone.
My first night of real sex and I am hard in love. Hel is a boyish Fiorucci angel with fat cheeks; her lips are suckling pert places to press my aching breast. She is intelligent, with wide-awake eyes that follow everything, and politics she will one-day abseil into the House of Lords to defend.
Hel’s body is as Rubenesque as her underfed lifestyle will allow. She lets me take my time to stroke her with my lips, my hips and finally my fingertips but eventually she insists that I go inside. I tremble as I slowly push my finger into her slippery cunt but I don’t know where I’m going now that we are lying down.
I only know lesbian bed sex from what I have read or seen in porn films and so I try for that. I become aware that Hel is attempting to signal me with groan and whimpers but I have no idea if they mean pleasure or pain. It never occurs to me to just ask her.
I try to be brave and keep my fingers stiff. I push in and pull out getting ready for my next plunge. I feel her react, clench against me so I decide that I will continue with this exact motion and wait for her inevitable orgasm.
She seems to hover on the edge of coming but never does. Instead she is panting and looking hard at me for help, so hard at me, that I am overwhelmed by the raw animal yearning of it all. Around her neck bold, blood-red blotches appear. Surely something is happening?
This promise of her orgasm encourages me to ignore the fact that my fingers have gone completely numb. I keep going, in and out regardless of the fact I can’t feel what I am actually doing, I push on faster and even harder.
I watch with fascination as she curls and uncurls around my arms and legs, but whether she is really enjoying it, I can’t tell. Why didn’t anyone ever mention it was going to take so fucking long? I lurch inwardly at every intake of breath that results in a moan hoping that this is it. We have been literally fucking for hours and hours and it is now starting to dawn on me that she is not going to come.
Unable to admit defeat I increase my width and push on as hard and fast as I possibly can but spasms of cramp are now surging up through my hand and I find myself racing with her, as if her orgasm is now going to happen inside my body.
I fuck her the hardest and most incandescently fast as I can manage until I fall exhausted and sweating next to her on the bed trying to convince myself it has worked; because how are you supposed to know?
Nina Simone is still singing us lullabies and we have enough drugs to keep us enthusiastic for days, but we cannot talk about what is not working between us.
We can talk about everything from the arms race to apartheid but we have no language to express this simple disappointment. We don’t want too much reality to spoil the image we have of ourselves as lesbian lovers; after all what else can we be?
I have decided that I am moving in with her.
This is no longer simply a phase I’m going through, I’m not bisexual or even a tourist just here to look around and take a few snapshots till my plane home arrives. No! I’m a dyke’s dyke. I am out, and way too proud to contemplate that I wasn’t born with the innate ability to give fantastic lesbian sex.
Then suddenly it is my turn and she is pushing me backwards and pushing inside me. After what I’ve been through I am determined to make it easy for her, so I start orgasming with every single out breath. I’m coming from the minute her fingers are inside me, just like in the movies.
Hel has fingers that she can control all the way to the tips. Absolute musicians. But I am determined not so much to experience pleasure as to be its display cabinet. Over and over I go with the loudest most desperate keening I can manage and just as I am working up to my fifth orgasmic crescendo she gets up and starts pulling on her clothes muttering about “going out for fags”.
I pull at the hem of her shirt like a creepy puppy. I offer her my fags, my spliff, the entire contents of my wallet if she will just climb back into the dream with me, but she slams the door on her way out.
It is my first lesson in leaving a woman alone when she growls, but I haven’t learnt it, yet.