David Wilson (2019) My Life With Murderers.

Below the typeface of David Wilson’s name is the tag ‘The UK’s Leading Criminologist’. Fourteen other books written (or co-written) by Wilson about well-known criminals and criminal justice system are listed inside the cover. He is one of Britain’s youngest prison governors. It was only when I had neared completion of the book, and the Chapter: ‘Theory into Practice: Interview with a Murderer’, I realised this was a programme on Channel 4 that I’d watched.

Here we had encapsulated everything Wilson had been preaching. He was asked to write the foreword for a book, with the subtitle The Truth about the Killing of Carl Bridgewater. Carl Bridgewater was shot in the head delivering newspapers to a farm near where he lived. Nobody was convicted of his killing. Channel 4 could tag the Interview with a Murderer because the original suspect of the police investigation, an ambulance driver, Bert Spencer was convicted of another killing. It was that of his friend and a ‘father figure’ that sometimes employed him, Hubert Wilkes. Spencer shot him in the head and claimed amnesia. In many crime dramas the protagonist suffers amnesia and the viewer later finds out that’s not the way it happened. He was not guilty. Spencer was guilty and sent to prison.

When he came out of prison he set out to clear his name. The Carl Bridgewater case, apart from family members, was largely forgotten. Most of us recognise what a psychopath looks and sounds like by seeing the moron’s moron, President Trump, on television and the way he needs to feed the continuing ‘I’ into his angst on social media. Bert Spenser was a littler ‘I AM’ that was not to be ignored.

Trump’s bestseller The Art of the Deal wasn’t ghost-written by Tony Schwartz, but wholly written and fabricated by him (a deal with the moron’s moron he later regretted).

Similarly, author Simon Golding had written about the Carl Bridgewater murder based on what Bert Spencer had told him. Like the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse, Spencer liked to claim he’d-all-but-written the book. Similarly, he was the hero in his own story. Setting the world to rights. Grandiose thinking and impetuosity are attributes of the psychopathic mindset.

In the same way that the moron’s moron craves the endorsement of well-known celebrities, Spencer wanted to hook the leading criminologist to endorse his book. Spencer wanted to make the splash of big ‘I AM’ bigger.

I must admit I underestimated President Trump. He used other people’s money to get elected and expected to be defeated, but had gone along for the ride because the cameras were always on him. I expected when the circus died down President Trump would be brought down by his own narcissism, greed, lies and above all by his own incompetence. But the moron’s moron repositioned those attributes as virtues. The smell’s still there, but we’re looking –for now- the other way.

Wilson did not fall for Spencer’s false bonhomie and old worldly charms. The criminologist looked at Spencer, looked at his alibi, met the woman that had provided the alibi and quickly concluded it had no validity. Spencer’s ex-wife later agreed to be interviewed and she talked about Spencer washing a jumper in the washing machine on the night of the Bridgewater murder.  Spencer had never done a washing in all the years they had been married. The green jumper and one of Spencer’s shotguns later went missing. Spencer’s daughter also thought he could have killed Carl Bridgewater.

Spencer argued the world was against him. He claimed that Wilson’s eyes were dilated and he took drugs. He was incompetent. He didn’t fully understand the case.

Every time you listen to one of the moron’s moron rants imagine Spencer, both are not guilty of any crime. The question remains, what do we do with the psychopaths among us? We elect them to the highest office, out of harm’s way, President of the United State and Prime Minister of a disunited kingdom. Psychopaths have that great ability to not really care what you think. Just don’t get in their way. When you think of Spencer, think of the moron’s moron and the man that hides what little brains he has under mussed blonde hair.        

David Wilson (2016) Left Field

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I share the same page as Jeremy Corbyn. We supported this crowdfunded book published by Unbound and I’d guess Corbyn shares many of my interests in equality and social justice. Left Field as the name suggests is about the You and non-You as a house master described the apparent differences between houses at Canford school in Dorset, to a pubescent Wilson, at the fag end of the not-so-swinging fifties. David Wilson or Commie Wilson as he was known as teenager, in that oxymoronic term we call public school, had decided on a path that was non-You. Consider, for example, the tweed-suited seven-year olds— Andrew, Charles and John—in Michael Apted’s 7UP series.  A the age of seven they already know the differences between You and Non-You, someone like wee Tony from the East End of London, who are a bit rough and smelly, are decidedly Non-You. They delight in reciting a mantra of how their lives are going to play out and be, preparatory public school, then Westminster public school, then on to Oxford.  And, more or less, so it comes to pass. You always know where he and Non-You is destined to be. I’d never heard of David Wilson, but he didn’t agree. He has some rich friends and some poor friends. Through his involvement in the charity, he began, War Child, he met movers and world shakers such as Luciano Pavarotti and included a walk-on cameo of meeting Nelson Mandela.  The latter asking for his advice and support. You don’t get much bigger than Pavarotti, but Mandela dwarves him. This is an autobiography worth reading not for any of these reasons, but for its humanity.

The structure of the book is quite simple. Dad, mum and family. Towards the end of the book Wilson has one of his Commie moments and rips up convention. ‘Hooptedoodle,’ he tells us was a term used by John Steinbeck in his novel Sweet Thursday, to ‘spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language’. I’d call it padding.

Wilson’s second wife Anne Aylor whom he married in 2009, for example, reproduces an unabridged ‘Behind God’s Back’ about her first trip to Mostar, which the notes tell us was first turned down by David Greenberg, Managing Editor at The New Republic in 1994, with some advice that they might consider publishing a shorter piece on the bakery. It’s interesting and insightful, but doesn’t fit into an autobiography and there is a sense of getting even.  And there’s a hotchpotch and parts of a play that are not so interesting.

Yugoslavia. Remember that place, pre-Tito and post-Tito, a Communist paradise that worked and didn’t work but with sunshine and beaches somehow seemed so much better than the others. Here is where Wilson finds himself and the woman he will marry Renata Kasun from Zagreb.

‘A foxy young woman…wearing a yellow bikini. At the beach-side café I made sure to sit as close to her as I could, but we had a problem communicating because she hardly spoke any English and I didn’t speak a word of Serbo-Croat.’

That didn’t matter. ‘From 1965 until the early 1970s, I’d board the train for Dover, ferry to Belguim and then couchette trip to Cologne, Munich, Salzburg, Ljubljana and Zagreb.’  That must have been some yellow bikini. Makes me tired just thinking about it. But it reminds me of a conversation I once had with a girl that said she’d a boyfriend in Australia and they kept in touch by email, which was a new thing then. But how do you have sex? I asked, which wasn’t such a new thing.

Nada, Renata’s mum said a prayer for them: ‘Holy Mother, please look after my family and may my daughter Renata and David stay together, get married, have healthy happy children and a happy life’.

The answer to that would be no, yes, no and yes and who knows but God?  Yugoslavia imploded into internecine strife, genocide and mass killings. David Wilson has done a very great thing. He has given daily bread to the Bosniacs, fed tens of thousands in Mostar, bread to the poor, the cut off and the suffering. He has given the children music.  Left Field it may be, but with the right heart he has made the world a better place.

Our future in her hands!

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Theresa May, or may not be, the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister. But I’m with Clement Attlee on this one. :  for the Tory party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation.

Attlee was, of course, fighting his and Labour’s corner. Trying to kick-start the NHS and Welfare State and wrestle the money to pay for it away from the gentry, who didn’t require either. The fifth-richest nation in the world (so we keep getting told) didn’t even have Foodbanks then. As a plucky little island nation now decidedly drifting away from our neighbours, we are in the oxymoronic position of a political leader leading us out of the European Union she campaigned and voted to stay in.

This brings to mind a conversation I had yesterday with an old woman that said she had stolen two things in her life. One of them was a single grape and the other…well, I wasn’t even listening. I told the old woman straight, ‘I’ve never stolen a grape, in my life’.

Theresa May, as Home Secretary, despite her posturing, and the fading map of the British Empire tattooed under her hair in red, has allowed more refugees into Britain, net migration, than before she took her current cabinet position. That’s the facts. Look them up if you don’t believe me. She’s on par here with that other fabulist, George Osborne, holding up a black briefcase for the press and telling them  what  our public-debt ratio needs to be and how it  will be wiped out before the Conservative Government will spend a penny. That’s a bit like when I used to boast I’d hit 180 with three darts and pull the arrows out of the dartboard before anybody noticed I’d hit treble 1, 20 and 5. If you’re more interested in what John Maynard Keynes termed the ‘dismal science’, William Keegan’s (2014) Mr Osborne’s Economic Experiment: Austerity 1945-51 and 2010— makes a comparison with the real constraints faced by Attlee and the Labour Party and propaganda war waged by the contemporary rich carpetbaggers against the poor of which ‘there’s no money’ was a key prop. Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, has since Brexit conceded that he can no longer meet his self-imposed ratio. Instead, he targeted a three dart finish, with two darts, and a bit of quantitative easing, and he hoped with the markets crashing around his Noddy-like ears, nobody was watching.  There was plenty of money, then as now – for the rich. Ironically, the best definition of that mindset comes from David Wilson’s memoir, Left Field, written by the co-founder of War Child and educated at Canford, public school. ‘Language and behaviour were codified to distance the Upper Class and middle class…they were non-U to our U.’  Osborne and Cameron are the chalk dust of history.

A terrible stench still lingers. The poor, ‘non-U,’ more easily defined by a hybrid word. Benefit – add cheat. Fling in an Eton spoon, mix in healthy dose of hatred. Those that start the day in debt and end the day in debt. Those that continue, despite the largess of the state, to live and breed in public housing. This is Jeremy Kyle land. Shorthand, in the rich man’s propaganda, for scum.

We were never all in it together, as David Cameron famously lip-synced for the cameras. In the propaganda war refugees also have a shorthand ‘swarm’. David Cameron didn’t need a script writer to think that one up. It was on the tip of his tongue. We’ve had Poems for Refugees. Remember that one, issued by War Child to alleviate the suffering of Afghanistan refugees. The pages fall open, the war to end all wars,  Dulce et Decorum Est.  The trumpets call of a different kind, Berthold Brecht, Concerning The Label Emigrant.

I always found the name false which they gave us, Emigrants

That means those who leave their country. But we

Did not leave of our own free will

Choosing another land. Nor did we enter

Into another land, to stay there, if possible, for ever.

Merely, we fled. We are driven out, banned

Europe on the move. Seven million Syrians displaced. Pastor Martin Neimoller’s warning of a different genocide.

First they came for the Jew

and I did not speak out –

because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the communists

and I did not speak out-

because I was not a communist

Then they came for the Trade Unionist

and I did not speak out –

because I was not a trade Unionist

Then they came for me-

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

Joan Smith, ‘To Avoid Worse,’ in an anthology of writing on asylum seekers, A Country of Refuge, makes the point that Anne Frank’s secret apartment in Amsterdam became a shrine and her diaries were a critical and international literary success which inspired a Hollywood movie, but if that teenage girl presented herself at our borders today, she’d be turned away. ‘By the beginning of 1939, there were 300 000 on the waiting list for American visas.’ And a headnote from history that mirrors headlines and promises from the likes of Theresa May today, ‘Tragically, the American government had recently followed the example of some European countries, instructing US consuls to delay visa approvals on the grounds of national security.’

Theresa May has already promised the party faithful that those children already here will be deported back to their homeland when they turn eighteen. Bravo, our brave Prime Minister in waiting. Joan Smith suggests that ‘Aylan Kurdi did not need to die any more than Anne Frank’. You’ve probably heard of Anne Frank and are wondering who the hell is Aylan Kurdi. But if I tell you his little body was washed up at the beach at Bodrum, red T-shirt, blue shorts, his face turned into the sand. His image flashed around the world. The Turkish policeman, Mehmet Cuplak, who gently lifted his body from the beach gaining, temporary, celebrity status.  Just think if Aylan had lived long enough we could have educated him in typical English language and values then deported him back to Kobani where a shell had blown up their house, or let him live his life in a refugee camp in Istanbul, without his drowned mother or brother, where his type belonged. Caring, compassionate, Conservatism.

As A.L.Kennedy, ‘The Migrants’ suggests, at that point the Paris bombings and shootings hadn’t happened. After Paris the face of the refugee was that of the Muslim bomber, a threat to our way of life. In fact, to our life.  Most decidedly, non-U, lower even than the working-class, non-U.  Kennedy calls the Home Secretary to account. In plain terms she calls the future Prime Minister a liar, but in mitigation, perhaps no more than say Boris Johnson or George Osborne or David Cameron. The best form of propaganda as Brexit demonstrates is fear and loathing. The Home Secretary received a standing ovation when she repeated those old favourites about immigrants stealing hard-won jobs, coming here to get treated for free by our splendid NHS and claim benefits. Theresa May has shown a clean pair of hands when dealing with the problem of immigration. I’m sure she’ll make a wonderful Prime Minister for the rich and privileged. No change there then.