In Manchester I met a tiny fifteen-year-old girl who showed me her self-harming scars. She just wanted to die, she said, which is why she was thinking of having a baby. I asked her whether she ever talked to anyone at school about her problems, but it turned out that she didn’t attend school – she’d recently moved into the area, and she had failed to find a place anywhere.
It goes without saying that I could think of absolutely nothing of any value to say to her. I think a lot of writers would like to think that they can somehow connect with kids like that, and I did, sort of. She came to the reading, and she wanted to talk afterwards. But then what? All I can say for sure is that she didn’t try to hurt herself during our conversation. That’s about all the good I was able to do.