When Freddie Mercury died in 1991, I was seventeen-years old and hanging out with a group of friends in South London. I’ll never forget how upset they were. My friend Poppy cried for a week. A week! At the time, I was winging it. I didn’t have much idea who Freddie Mercury was. Queen didn’t get much play time in my house when I was growing up. My parents listened to Clapton, Paul Simon, The Beatles and of course Diana Ross… almost everyone else from that era, but no Queen.
I’ve got to know of his legacy and Queen’s music mostly since he died. Don’t Stop Me Now is now the go-to song I play on Sunday mornings.
All during Christmas, Bohemian Rhapsody played in cinemas. I looked into going to Borth’s fantastic little bijou cinema – but it was always full. No tickets. Who was going to see this film four times I wondered? Was there a elderly, Welsh fan base that I didn’t know about? Well, turns out these Queen-loving Welshies know a good thing when they see it. How great is this movie? We watched it last night. No wonder Poppy cried for a week (she says she still cries now).
After the movie, we woke up on Saturday morning safe in our little bungalow for about two hours. Then something strange began to happen. Lulu’s friend started snapchatting her. Their conversation followed on from a thread that had started about ten days before. Then, Lulu’s friend had been video chatting to a guy she liked.
‘Ah,’ he’d said, when the phone has been pointed at Lulu’s face, ‘I’ve heard of you. You’re that girl with no friends. You’re a real c***, aren’t you?’
Huh, Lulu had thought. She waited for her friend to step in and defend her. But her friend just laughed – as if it was all a big joke. With all the laughing, Lulu shrugged it off.
They went out on the weekend together. Luli came home looking visibly upset. When I asked her what happened, she said she’d been manhandled. One of her friend’s gang had ripped her out of her chair from behind. She hadn’t seen it coming.
‘What’s wrong?’ Lulu had exclaimed, thinking there was a fire in McDonald’s or some other general emergency.
The kid spat in her face, ‘Your dad’s here.’
I tried for a calm voice. ‘Maybe you shouldn’t hang out with these people, Lu. ‘
Lulu shrugged. ‘At the moment she’s one of my only friends.’
I reasoned it out. Ok. I wasn’t there. No one’s perfect. And some things are as big a deal as you make them.
We’d agreed this weekend Lulu would stay home and concentrate on getting better – she’s had a cold all week. This would mean lots of lying around in bed. Lovely, no?
As she lay in bed, the guy was back on the video chat. More of the same stuff again. But worse this time. ‘You’re such a sk*** you should go jump off a bridge,’ he said to Lulu.
Again, Lulu waited for her friend to defend her. Since she was the one sending these messages. Again, no such luck. Except for when he mis-said her name ‘Lucy’ in his torrent stream of abuse. Then Lulu’s friend paused and said, ‘No, her name is Lulu.’ The rest of the time it was just laugh, laugh, laugh.
Unsurprisingly, Lulu got into a bit of tiz-woz during this exchange. ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ she asked her friend.
‘What do you mean?’ her friend replied innocently. And she was right – this is a forgettable vein. Snapchat doesn’t keep a record of opened messages, unless you set it to. But just then Lulu’s friend did something stupid. Sorry, I mean MORE stupid. Incriminating. She wrote down what he said and sent it as a text. And Lulu screenshot it.
In fairness, her friend didn’t give an opinion about what he said. But why would you write these threats down and send them to your friend? As Polly Pocket commented, who came over last night and was all over it, you don’t write that stuff down unless you. at least at a very minimum, make it clear you don’t agree with him.
I closed my eyes. Actual allies. Thank you.
‘You know, Lu,’ I said when it was happening, ‘you could block her.’
So she did. She blocked an old, old friend who for some reason sanctioned the abuse of her old friend. And even though Lulu felt sad that her friend betrayed her – this is a type of betrayal – she feels safe now. And by my kid’s sudden dropped and happy shoulders, that is just massive.