I lay in bed and listened to the 24-hour news. A young lady kidnapped, abused and murdered by a policeman. Women saying they are afraid to walk our streets at night. I am afraid to walk our streets at night. Was it ever thus?

I used to stop on my way home from school at the garage of the wealthy elderly woman across the road from us. Mr. Pearson – her chauffer and mechanic – sat me on his knee, gave me sweets and stroked my bottom inside my knickers. I liked the sweets. I was 11.

When I was fourteen, Alex asked me out. We met through chapel and I knew he had just ‘broken up’ with his girlfriend of 2 years. I also knew he was not over her and that I was second best, but I was pleased to be asked. He was very 16 and very attractive, and I was flattered. On our second date we went on the tram to Harehills. In those days Harehills was a thriving hub of coffee bars and the first ever Chinese restaurant in our locality of north Leeds. Alex and I had an expresso coffee In Hernsndo’s where my sister worked (and I would part time in one more year). It felt so sophisticated

When we left the coffee bar, we walked down to the main road between Leeds and its suburbs. As we approached the tram stop a group of about 6 lads in what was known as ‘teddy boy’ gear  (drainpipe trousers, long jackets with velvet collars and long hair tied back) fell into step behind us. They followed us to the tram stop, boarded the tram behind us and seated themselves downstairs at the rear by the exit while we went upstairs.

As we disembarked at Oakwood clock, the gang of lads also rose and followed us off the tram. They strolled along Wetherby Road behind us, speeding up as we sped up. Alec and I never spoke. We did not acknowledge their presence. I was afraid. I dare not say so.

We turned up Ladywood Road. The lads crowded in on me and Alex crossed the road, keeping pace but separate. They crowded round me, then started groping me. It was autumn and I had a thick coat on. At first, they explored my private parts through the thick blue and green shaggy coat, but then they started to reach inside… laughing and shouting and encouraging one another.

Alex walked on the opposite side of the road with his head down. I was very afraid.

A car turned the corner from Springwood Road into Ladywood Road. Cars were rare in those days, especially after dark. It was 1958.

The lads panicked, they shouted at each other and they ran back the way we had come. Alex crossed the road and asked if I was OK. I said I was. He walked on up the road and I turned down our unmade private road to my home. He didn’t ask me out again, in fact we never spoke again and within two weeks he was back with his original girlfriend.

It was International Women’s Day. I have never told anyone about the events of that night, and I have never felt comfortable being out by myself after dark.