Archive for January 9th, 2011

Poetry? Sinister!

January 9, 2011

Those of us who read and write poetry sometimes seem very odd to the usual run of the citizenry, you know. We are not quite normal.
This has been made very clear in Britain over the past few weeks. In Bristol a dreadful series of events has unfolded;  a young woman went missing one evening before Christmas, and some days later her dead body was found by a roadside, showing signs of strangulation.
She was young, attractive, white and middle-class, so the case has drawn for more attention than the more usual run of murders – the gang-related killings of young men on slum estates, for example.
But the moment when the media really went apeshit was when her landlord was temporarily arrested. Christopher Jefferies was a retired English teacher in his sixties (like myself, actually) with a reputation as a a solid and decent citizen (stalwart of the local neighbourhood watch, campaigner for the preservation of old buildings, and enthusiast for the King James Bible and the Cranmer prayer book).
Once arrested, however, he became the target for all sorts of press innuendo. He lived by himself – sinister! He loved the work of Christina Rossetti, a poet obsessed by death – sinister! He had an odd hairstyle – sinister!  Racking their brains, some former students recalled that as a teacher he on one occasion lost his temper – sinister! And he taught them ‘The Ballad of Reading Jail’, a poem about a murderer – sinister! An ex-tenant who did not like him remembered that he did not want her to put up net curtains – and that, of course, is sinister evidence that he must have been a Peeping Tom!

The police freed him a couple of days later, and are now looking in other directions, rather desperately – appealing on Facebook and so on, as though anyone with anything to tell them would not already have been aware of a case that is the talk of the whole country. Read the rest of this entry »