How We Met: Julie Burchill & Sara Lawrence

'I've got a violent loathing of the upper classes, but she has changed my views on posh people'
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The Independent Online

Julie Burchill, 48, is best known for her acerbic newspaper columns and her 2004 lesbian teen novel, 'Sugar Rush'. She began her career writing about punk at the age of 17 and has since forged a reputation as a tenacious defender of the working classes. She lives in Brighton.

I know it's dreadful to say, but Sara is the antithesis of the girl I thought I'd be best friends with. She not only went to boarding school, but her family invented Rodean. I've got a violent loathing of the upper classes, but she has changed my views on posh people.

I met Sara when I worked for The Times. I had to write eight pieces a year for T2, but all these hardened hacks were too scared to ask me. Sara was only 25 and she was like, "What's the problem? She owes us a feature," and they were like, "You can't just ring Julie Burchill and ask her to write something, she's really well respected," and she was like, "You're joking, I'll ask her." So she did, and I said, "Of course, how much do you want?"

She was brave and I liked that about her, so I invited her down to Brighton to see a play about me. Afterwards, I took her out with 20 of my friends. Suffice to say, the next morning at 10am there was no girl standing – apart from Sara. She may be posh, but I've never met anyone who can keep up with me the way she can.

When we first got together I was quite hostile to her. Some of my male friends would say, "Posh white girls are only good for one thing – shagging," and I'd just say, "Yeah, go for it – posh girls shag anyone."

She's brave in a way that I've never experienced before. We were walking through Brighton once late at night and there were eight or 10 young men kicking a very young man on the floor; she crossed the road like Princess Margaret and said, "Excuse me! What do you all think you're doing? Stop it at once!" and started punching, kicking and screaming at them.

There was one time when I thought I was fed up of living in Brighton and wanted to live abroad. No matter how lovely it is, it always becomes the place where you get your dry cleaning and you do your chores – until Sara started coming to stay with me at the weekends and I started seeing it through her eyes. She made me feel excited about living here again. We also love to write together and we're doing a play together for the BBC about Greenham Common. I don't want to retire, but I see Sara as my last gasp.

Sara has always been the grown-up in our relationship. Unbeknown to me, after all the things I did to her – being rude about her, trying to destroy her reputation – Sara knew about it and was my fairy-godmother. I'll always love her for that.

Sara Lawrence, 28, is a journalist and author who has just written her first teen novel, 'High Jinx', based on her experiences at an all-girls boarding school. She lives in Brighton.

The first time I met Julie was while I was working at The Times. We'd emailed back and forth for weeks, until one day I got a message saying, "Baby, why don't you come down to Brighton to see a play about me?" I was roaring with laughter, thinking who else would say that? Before I went, my editor touched me on the arm and said, "Sara, I'm worried about you going to see Julie; promise to get the last train home." I just said, "Don't worry, whatever she throws at me, I can deal with it."

So I went down to Brighton and watched the play – and the next thing I knew I was waking up on her sofa at 10am. There was no money in my wallet but loads of notes lying on the table, so I took £20 for the cab and got on the train. I got into the office that afternoon feeling as rough as hell, having just stolen £20 from this woman I adored, so I sent her a card with £20 in it. A couple of days later I got a phone call saying "Baby, no one's ever paid me back before, I can't believe it!" There I was agonising and thinking I'm going to be exposed as a thief, but actually that was the beginning of our friendship.

We're quite troublesome together on nights out, trying to outdo each other over who can be the most offensive. I only have to look at Julie and she makes me piss myself laughing. But she does have her faults – she's a terrible judge of character. She'll say, "I've got this amazing new friend, let's all go out for the night," and in the beginning I was like, "Great," but now I say, "No way." I've never seen a bigger collection of morons and weirdos. If Julie calls me a snob, I will fight her to the death and say, "But I'm friends with you and you're the self-proclaimed queen of chav."

Some things she says are crap, but Julie is a bit of a genius – she was the one who told me to write my book. I had had a particularly bad week and was staying with her for the weekend. On the Monday I was so miserable that I sat on the edge of her fishpond, thinking, "Maybe I should chuck it all in and become a lawyer." That night Julie said, "Baby, why don't you just write a book?" For the next three months I sat at my desk and wrote two-thirds of my book – I owe that to her.

In Julie I've met a kindred spirit, and I don't care what class we are – it's about being honest with each other. If she thinks I've done something crap, she'll tell me – and I really appreciate that.

'Sweet' by Julie Burchill (Young Picador, £9.99) is published on 5 October. 'High Jinx' by Sara Lawrence (Faber Children's Books, £6.99) is out now

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