I’ve just spent a short time sat in the garden, reading this book:
I read it, quite coincidentally, a week after the ten year anniversary of Sophie Lancaster’s death.
Armitage created this drama-documentary for BBC4, trying to give voice to the girl with the help of meetings with Sophie’s mother and access to her diaries. It was performed live at the Royal Exchange.
Living not too far from Lancaster’s hometown of Bacup, where she was killed, I remember the murder well. Reading this just re-emphasises how senseless and sad her death was. She and her boyfriend were attacked by a group of local teenagers when they took a shortcut through a park. Initially friendly, with Sophie passing cigarettes around, they suddenly turned on her boyfriend Robert Maltby. As she tried to protect him, lying unconscious, by cradling his head in her lap, they then turned on her.
Armitage: Oh God he comes back and turns on me/a plague of fists or a swarm of feet/the boot going in again and again/How he hates my demeanour/hates my braids/how he hates my manner/hates my ways/doesn’t know me from Adam/not even my name/but detests every atom /of what I am.
In the media it was speculated that they were attacked because they looked ‘different’, because they were goths. Though Maltby recently said this was an “oversimplification.”
Both victims were in a coma, but Sophie never emerged from hers. Her killer’s boot print on her swollen face, her life support was switched off thirteen days after the attack.
Her mother Sylvia Lancaster set up The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. (See link below.) Her campaigning has helped violence against what are termed ‘subcultures’ to be classed as hate crimes.
For her work she was given an OBE in 2014.
Rest in Peace Sophie Lancaster. I also hope that Robert Maltby has managed to find some measure of peace.