Saturday 10 December 2016

There is "slow news day" story

on the front page of our state newspaper this morning. It purports to tell the story of how the police broke the law in order to solve a series of murders.
The murders, known as the Truro murders because two of the seven victims were found buried at Truro, were horrific. They occurred while I was living in London so I knew only what my family and old work colleagues told me in letters home. My sisters travelled everywhere together or with someone else for some time and I imagine other girls did the same thing. Nobody mentioned the names of the victims.
When I returned I worked for two years at one of the universities and, on the staff there, I met the father of one of the victims. Just before the meeting we were both attending the head of the social work school pulled me to one side and said quietly, "You might not know. It's the anniversary today."
I must have looked puzzled because she said, "M..M's daughter."
When it was obvious I had no idea what she was talking about she explained that one of the people I was about to meet was the father of one of  the girls who had been murdered. 
I think you always expect this to happen to "other people". It's not real. You don't expect people you know to commit suicide or die in accidents  and you most certainly don't expect them to be murdered or their children to be murdered. What the head of the social work school would have had no way of knowing was that I knew this man's wife. I knew her quite well. Our paths hadn't crossed since I had returned but that hadn't signified anything.
So, when I met this man I could ask after A-M. It meant something to him. He would occasionally drop by my office. When I needed some help he was the first to volunteer. 
I left for another university in another state and one Easter there was a note from M..M. His wife was coming over to a conference. She would be staying in the same hall of residence as I was. Would I watch out for her? She wouldn't know anyone else. It was the first time she had been away from him since... he couldn't put that on paper. It didn't matter I knew what he meant.
It was, I think, an enormous effort for both of them but they were trying to move on. They didn't forget. They would never forget but they wanted to make the effort to live as normally as possible. 
When she arrived someone in the reception office let me know. She looked almost frightened and I  suspected she had been weeping so I quietly told a couple of people I trusted and they offered her small things like "Are you going to sit with us?" and "If you're ready to go can we walk over together?"
I wasn't at the conference so I had to rely on them to do the job and they did it well. There was only incident and she handled it well enough although she came and wept briefly on my shoulder a short time later. It confirmed my view that the man in question was completely unfit to enter the profession for which he was training.
But the acts of kindness by those I trusted and those they also quietly told meant much more to her. She returned them in full and more. At the end of three days she looked more like the person I had once known. At the end of five days she went home with plans for the future.
Ill health took both M...M and A-M a few years later. At their funerals people mentioned their many small acts of kindness to each other - and other people.
 Today's article in the paper says nothing about that  but I learned a lot from both of them

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