"Your story is ours and ours is yours" said words on a card, to be found amid the petrol station flowers and the cellophane, there with the budget rage and the real anger, all mixed up, rung out around the bandstand.
The sentiment is produced by love no doubt, and a need to connect.
But it isn't true. Our story is not hers, nor her’s ours. Her body was found in bags.
I point this out for a reason. I am not averse to politicising Sarah’s murder, entirely, per se. It’s political, in part, what happened. But I do think I can’t be the only one who feels some discomfort at the conflation at what happened to Sarah and what happens to practically everyone else.
Germaine Greer said, when discussing her own rape, that "rape isn't the worst thing that can happen to you".
It’s the kind of statement that would reflexively "trigger” anyone who’s decided they’ve got better things to do than think: people who can afford - in whatever sense - not to.
I heard that not long after I was raped. In my case, a stranger, who I believed was going to kill me. When I heard Greer say that, years after it happened, I collapsed in pure relief. It was true what she’d said, and if she’d been there in front of me I’d’ve wept into her braless tits. The truth of it was one thing, but the goodness of it…
Rape is the second worst thing that can happen to you. It is the second, worst, thing. What happened to Sarah, ultimately, is the worst thing. So we only share part of our story with her, and as unspeakable as that part is, it is, by definition, the least bad part, since we live to tell it, and write it on a card.
We know nothing of her cruel and unusual end. We know nothing. We think we can reach her this way. We imagine that what we have suffered at the hands of men connects us with her… Maybe it does, somewhat. Maybe it takes us along with her somewhere between Clapham and Brixton, and maybe that is why it is there that we laid our blooms. But we don't leave flowers in Kent.
I wonder if this thrust at solidarity isn't, more than anything, just an expression of anguish at that. We aren't outraged at what we shared with Sarah, we are outraged at what we did not.