The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It? 25 Years Later, The Untold Story of the Case. Channel 4.

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-killer-nanny-did-she-do-it/on-demand/71550-003

ITV showed a documentary about the trial of Louise Woodward on 11th November 2021. Channel 4 covers much the same ground. But they tell the viewer they have the untold story. What they have are two jurors in the trial that found Louise Woodward guilty of murder speaking anonymously in this documentary. Both female jurors were fizzing that Judge Zobel had produced a legalistic wild card that allowed Louise Woodward to go home to Britain and resume her life after serving 129 days incarcerated.

Episode 1 gives the case for the prosecution. Episode 2, the defence’s case. Episode 3 revisits those involved in the case with some surprising reveals. Louise Woodward, for example, courting publicity with her husband for a dance business they started.

Did she do it?

Over fifty years ago, Burnsie, me, Dav Prentice and Jim Scott were in the dock at Dumbarton Court. We were accused of smashing a car showroom window. The police case was that one of use had lobbed a brick through the window. The Prosecution Case was dependent on proving it. Now is the time to turn super-grass and name names. Dav Prentice was guilty. When nothing much was happening, Dav had a tendency to make things happen. But we kept stuhm and got done with Breach of the Peace. On the other charge of malicious damage (the lobbed brick) we weren’t found Not guilty, but Not Proven. This is a unique verdict in Scottish law. Had the jurors in the Louise Woodward trial been able to pronounce the case Not Proven that would probably have been the outcome.

We know from watching the programme that defence and prosecution worked on the assumption that their theories were held back by the facts, but all they had was theory. We’ve got so used to bias disguised as impartiality and not believing facts that don’t suit our narrative can be disregarded. From the election of the moron’s moron as American President to questions of the efficacy of the Covid-booster jab many of us get confused about who to believe. Life was simpler then. Louise Woodward was in a room with two children, something happened and one died. Human story telling is built around the why. Why did Louise shake Matthew so much that he died? Or did she shake him at all, or was somebody else involved.  

The prosecution case was she was frustrated with her employers. They ramped up her toxicity by suggesting she got in late and didn’t like getting up early. She also used the phone too much, and lied about it, although she’d been told not to. When questioned about Matthew’s death she’d behaved calmly and her hands didn’t shake.

The defence case was Louise behaved pretty much like any other nineteen-year-old, and Matthew had prior injuries. The long-tail argument, but what was never said explicitly was if Louise didn’t kill Matthew, his parents should have been in the dock. The defence case revolved around questioning experts’ expertise around ‘shaken-baby syndrome’.   

Just as proteins follow structure, shaken-baby syndrome comes with a triad of effects that can be read off like a Covid-screening-test.

Dr Patrick Barnes an advocate of such a methodology and witness for the prosecution, later said he had to go back and look at the data. And he no longer believed in the validity of the triad test. In effect, Dr Patrick Barnes had flipped. If the trial was taking place nowadays he’d be an expert witness not for the prosecution, but for the defence. But now, he too was being persecuted for his unorthodox beliefs that challenged the mainstream narrative.

Theories that make sense with huge amounts of data don’t make sense with very little and tend towards the anecdotal and confirmation bias.  Defence lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp was a partisan Louise Woodward supporter and suggested her prosecution was analogous to the Salem Witch Trials. When Louise was given bail but told not to flee the country, she went to stay with her defence lawyer. Yet, she excoriated Louise’s mum and dad, and called them sleazy. She asked Louise to leave her house. A tabloid reporter alleged she had Elaine Whitfield Sharp on tape saying Louise was a ‘duplicitous monster’ and she was guilty. In other words, she had flipped like Dr Barnes, but in a new and different direction, but she later denied it.

The decisions we make are not always rational. Ask Dav Prentice, period. My head says Louise Woodward is innocent. But my gut instinct as a writer is to imagine myself in that situation. Imagination myself as a nineteen-year-old in a city I didn’t know very well. Doing a job akin to the all-round kitchen girl of the early twentieth century, board and lodgings and work and more work and little money. One of the children’s playing up. Keeps crying all the time and is whining. Maybe I did shake him a little bit. To get him to stop. Maybe I shook him a bit harder, and he hurt his head. It couldn’t happen to me. It shouldn’t happen to me. If I could take it back, I’d make it all better.

When we wreck the theory, a beautifully constructed net that catches many monsters, all we are left with are ourselves. Whoever has the best story doesn’t win, but neither do they lose. There’s a murderer out there somewhere, and it may be within you.

Notes.

Peggy Hernandez. Globe Correspondent. In Louise’s home town were over 100 watched the verdict in The Rigger Bar a single question:

Is the defendant guilty or not guilty.

Guilty.

First reaction, a single scream. Then quietly the sobbing began. Heads fell into hands. And as Woodward began to sob in the court room, sobbing in the pub turned to wails.

After Judge Zobel. Everybody went nuts. There was so much champagne, everybody got sprayed.

Public perception can change on the dime. The villagers were very cautious after that. How it looked disrespectful to the memory of ME.

You never got a sense of what happened in that house.

Episode 3, The Fallout.

Elaine Whitfield Sharp.  Defence team. After the trial, Louise was very upset. She needed something to help her sleep. So I arranged that. Kinda morphed into the role of mother. After Louise was sentenced, Judge Zobel went back and apparently threw up.

I never accepted the verdict. You could see it was an old injury from the CT scan. If the jury had properly understood that. If they’d have paid attention and given us credit for it, they would not have convicted LW of murder nor of manslaughter.  

Barnes tested as a very rigid individual. When he testified I hated him.

I had to fight my way through a crowd to get to the courtroom. Everyone’s asking, ‘What’s going on?’ I don’t know. I don’t know

Louise said what’s going on? I said he’s reducing your sentence to involuntary manslaughter. You’re going home. This is just unreal. This is amazing.

What to do with LW? She can come and live with me.

I said to LW. Don’t talk to the media. You’re still at risk. You could go back to court and inside for life.

Susan and Gary Woodward had sold their story for £40 000. Whether with her knowledge, I don’t know. And it was underhand. And sleazy.

When all of that became clear to me, I said, OK, you need to leave.

I did however continue to help. I’d go to bed at one in the morning and get up at six. I worked day and night. Every minute I could.

That phraseology, ‘duplicitous monster’ isn’t even part of my lexicon. And they ran that with a photograph of a cassette tape. I’ve asked for a copy of that tape. Their answer: ‘I’ve destroyed it.’

This is a historic case. The fact is she never had a tape.

A state trooper said that I said LW was guilty. You have to contrast his claim against the fact I was spending thousands of dollars of my own money against the fact that she didn’t do what the prosecution said she did.

I’m happy and proud with the work I did.

31st October 1997 Louise returns to court to be sentenced.

Gerry Leone, Lead Prosecutor. From the Eeapen perspective it was always about finding responsibility and accountability for who killed their son.

Nothing will bring Mattie back. Louise Woodward was found guilty.

After Judge Zobel. We had a really good case. He took matters into his own hands. He had done it once before. That’s why I had the notice of appeal in my hand, and already filled out.

The prosecution appeal to reinstate the murder verdict.

LW is forbidden from leaving the country.

We work from the injuries back. Those that see child abuse on a daily basis. Not only consistent. But absolutely child abuse.

I do think LW is responsible for ME’s injuries and death. Over the years there’s been various opinions about shaken baby syndrome. Deborah Eappen started a foundation that focuses on research.

Deborah Eappen. She’s very aware of that day. And the violence she inflicted on Matthew.

Martha Coakley, Prosecution team.

They went through an unspeakable tragedy. To them there isn’t another side to this. I think they feel they’ve told their side. The result was a fair result. The person that murdered their child was in a way held accountable.

Louise Woodward, I’d just like to maintain my innocence. I never killed Mattie. I don’t know what happened to him. I’m not responsible for his death.

You will be sentenced to a term of life.

The defendant will be remanded in custody and she will go back to Framingham.

Life in jail. No possibility of parole for 15 years.

Voice of Louise Woodward (2003). I did a lot of crying. I had a lot of emotions. I was just frightened.

LW (voice 2003) I never forget that a little boy died. I feel really sorry about that…I think about him every day. It’s not something you can forget. The whole thing has been such a trauma.

Susan Woodward (mum) I’ll not stop fighting for her. She’s innocent. An innocent child. And they’ve made a horrendous mistake. She can’t be buried in an American prison for something she didn’t do [oh, yes, she can]

Husband gary.

Michael Green, Editor, Chester Chronicle. By and large outrage and the community was supportive of her.

After Judge Zobel’s intervention. It’s impossible to underestimate the sense of jubilation and triumph.

After LW passed her law degree. She got into a relationship with a man from Chester and they set up a dance school. The message was crystal clear. This is not going to ruin my life. To the point I can look forward. I don’t need to look back.

Nina Myskow, Journalist. Because it was so close to the death of Diana, which was a shared national tragedy. There was a different feeling in the country. We’d all been a nation of stiff upper lips, but suddenly after Diana everybody came together to grieve this tragic event.

The sluice gates had been opened. And it wasn’t so hard to open them again. But it was an entirely different situation. It just escalated into something that was mob hysteria.

A baby [Matthew Eappen] is dead. I’m not saying that’s she’s guilty of pre-meditated murder. But at a moment of stress something snapped.

I think the tabloids changed after she came home. Their attitude evolved. My God, she’s coming home. Don’t let her near a baby, which is horrific. But that’s just what tabloids do. It’s nothing about Louise. It’s not about her being guilty or not. It’s about selling a paper.

Annette Witheridge, former tabloid journalist. Probably the biggest story in America. It just got bigger and bigger as it twisted and turned. And just at that point it couldn’t get any stranger. It would.

I got a phone call and asked if I knew anything about Louise doing a book deal (with the Daily Mail)? ‘So Unfair’ headline.

We’d always said that LW and her family wouldn’t benefit from telling her story. And suddenly, I was such a liar.

I’m glad I taped Elaine. Because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. LW lies about the craziest of things. She’s basically saying she no longer believes LW. I actually didn’t know what to do with this as a story because this is a minefield. I took some advice from journalists and said let’s sit on this and see what happens. And then Elaine was arrested for drink driving.

State trooper that arrested her said that Elaine made a statement and she said that when she took the case she was convinced LW was innocent. Now she knows she’s guilty and is having a hard time handling it.

This has to go out there. So we ran the story. Daily Mirror. Front page. Louise is a lying monster. We reveal secret tape.

She didn’t just say it to me.

This {Panorama} interview watched by 8 million people was the first chance she had of getting her side across. Everybody wanted to interview Louise. Every newspaper, broadsheet or tabloid. Panorama won and she’s very polished. She’d have been advised what to wear. The BBC would have done her hair and make-up. She’s looking pretty sharp.

The newspapers were quick to pounce. Who does she think she is? Does she think she’s a celebrity?

Well, she’s kinda a celebrity by default. If she hadn’t given an interview, she’s keeping quiet. She gave an interview, she’s channelling Princess Di. Damned if she did and damned if she didn’t.

I think she came across very well. If you think how old she is. It would have been easy for her to snap. She didn’t.

Judge Zobel got everybody into court.

Simon Holmes, Louise friend. When the verdict came through the initial reaction was shock. The the next thing was let’s roll up our sleeves and show support. Louise isn’t like this. She’s innocent of this. I ended up going to America and going to the prison. I spoke to Sue and Gary. Most of the world can see that you’re innocent.  I think that’s an important message to get across when she was in the depths of despair. We knew at that point that the judge could review it. There was that hope. But you’re fearing the worst.

Elton Cheshire. Louise’s home village. Christian Leith, campaigner.  Everybody believed she was innocent. And like a small acorn grows the mighty oak tree.

Juror 1> I think people who accuse the jury on not understanding the science are just looking for an excuse as to why we found her guilty.

I felt horror, when Judge Zorbel had overturned the verdict. I felt angry that he would negate what we had spent so long working on. It made me furious with him. He must have had a warm spot for Louise, I think. But I lost any kind of respect I had for him as a jurist.

I went out on a date with a lawyer. And he went on at length how Judge Zorbel had done the right thing. And I think smoke was coming out of my ears. I was furious.

Juror 2> As a lay person, yes it was complicated but the prosecution did a very good job when they were asking people to provide medical information. They asked it so we could break it down and understand what that actually meant.

It did cast doubt in my faith in the legal system here in the US.

Dr Patrick Barnes. MD Paediatric radiologist. Served for the prosecution.  It had to be shaken baby syndrome. I see no old injuries. After the trial, I had some concern about my testimony. Obviously, I wasn’t there. So the doubt in your mind is, how do you know exactly what happened? My teachers had taught me that shaken baby syndrome causes characteristic findings like haemorrhage between the brain and skull. Bleeding in the eyes. Also brain injury. The so-called triad. And because we were biased, we would not believe the caretaker’s story. And that’s when the door started opening to consideration of accidental injury, but predisposing conditions that might date back to birth. I can’t give testimony that would convict LW beyond a reasonable doubt. I shouldn’t have done that.

The LW trial was a turning point in my career. From that point on I decided I had to be better informed.

I started getting criticism from institutions; you need to do something about Dr Barnes. We weren’t anticipating this kind of blowback and resistance and people trying to get us fired.

Shaken baby system is still used to identify child abuse and remains controversial. 

Barry Scheck (OJ’s defence lawyer) LW’s lead lawyer. The prosecution defence rested on Barnes’ testimony.

Hypothetical defence situation, rejected by Barnes.

In the state of Massachusetts a judge has the power to re-assess the jury’s verdict.

11 days after LW’s conviction.

Nancy Gertner, Professor, Harvard Law School. I think Judge Zobel was hoping the jury would come up with another verdict. Second degree murder is intentional. And whatever else this was, it was not intentional.

Judge Zobel 279 days in a house of correction.

Vicky Woodward (sister) Louise is very happy. She was expecting to get 10 years. She couldn’t believe it.

Parents of dead baby bitterly criticise judge for letting her go free.

Louise has been waiting 6 months for the Supreme Judicial Court to see if she is to go back to prison.

16th June 1998. The Supreme Judicial Court Upholds the judge’s decision. Louise is free to return home.

LW decides to give one interview from which she’ll receive no payment.

Panorama. BBC (1998)

Central question. Are you responsible for the death of ME?

No, I’m not. I’m innocent. If anything I tried to help him as best I could.

Do you accept that a sentence of 279 days isn’t a very long sentence for somebody convicted of murder?

A) 279 days is a long sentence for an innocent person. I’ve heard that I shouldn’t be allowed near children. And I find that incredibly hurtful. I love children. I’ve a lot of young children in my family. And I feel I’ve lost the right even to look at a child.

Clive Stanford Smith, Humans’ Right Lawyer.

The LW case is typical of shaken baby syndrome. You’ve got a carer who’s alone with the child. And the child suffers something. They’re not sure what. The child gets rushed to hospital. Then everyone is required to look for child abuse. And it all spirals out of control from there. I ran across my first shaken baby case in Mississippi in the 1980s. And I got obsessed with the science of it. It just made no sense at all. This whole triad telling us we had shaken baby syndrome is total bullshit. It results in a lot of miscarriages of justice.

Advocates of shaken baby syndrome insist it’s an effective way to identify abuse.

Dr Lori Fraiser. Child abuse paediatrician. My view is that children can be shaken violently and their brains can be seriously damaged. After the LW trial I persisted in a letter that was signed by a group of paediatricians to set some of the alternative theories straight.

The issue was, when was the child injured.

When would they become symptomatic (have symptoms)?

Cases of fatal head injury, have to be very close to the time they fell unconscious.

It is an emotional matter. And because it happens in an isolated setting there is often support for the defendant because they are a good person. I never say the defendant is a bad person. They may have done a bad thing. Or something may have happened so they snapped. And abused the child, but often there’s serious consequence to that.

Detective William E Burns (jnr) I’ve no doubt she did it. It carried with me the last 25 years. I felt bad for a lot of people. I felt bad for LW. She’s the same age as my daughter. She’s got to live with it. Ultimately god will judge what happened that day. She made a horrible mistake. It happens all the time. In England, here in America and all around the  world. She didn’t get up in the morning and say I’m going to kill this child. But her actions are responsible for the child’s death.

Jonathan Hunt, Sky Reporter. I think the truth is pretty unknowable. The prosecution presents its case. The defence present theirs. And we come to it with all our biases and preconceptions.

Anne, ITV, ITV Hub, written by Kevin Sampson.

https://www.itv.com/hub/anne/2a5505a0001

Not many programmes can get away with a one-word titular introduction—Anne. I’d have had no idea of who it was referring unless I’d read the pre-publicity for the four-night drama starring Maxine Peake.

Anne Williams, an unremarkable woman from Liverpool who worked in a shop, and who died in 2013.

That might have been that. But if we throw in another word, Hillsborough, the unremarkable becomes remarkable. I’m old enough to remember the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989, both serial European Champions. Kenny Dalglish moved to Liverpool from Celtic for a £440 000 transfer fee. He was now the Liverpool manager. As a Celtic fan, I didn’t take much notice of the match or care who won. I didn’t know what happened. But imagined it was much the same as the Ibrox disaster of 1971. Media reports concentrated on the pageantry of Anfield covered in tops and scarves and token of remembrance for the 97 men, women and children killed and around 766 injured.

One victim was Kevin Williams, a few days short of his sixteenth birthday. He attended the match with his mate. Kevin died in pen 3, at Hillsborough. The official line was compression asphyxiation. After The Ibrox Disaster, Glasgow Lord Provost, Sir Donald Liddle wept at a press conference. He declared, ‘It is quite clear a number died of suffocation’. Anyone that has ever been to a big match knows the feeling of being lifted off their feet after their team score and being swept away down the terracing—a mass love in. But that turns to terror when barriers break, people stumble and fall, and there’s nowhere for fans to go and the bodies pile up.

At the end of the first episode, Anne Williams gets on a train and introduces herself at a meeting of The Hillsborough Support Group. Something just doesn’t add up. The official line was that Kevin had died instantly. Stefan Popper the coroner cajoled witnesses until they supported the narrative being sold to the public by South Yorkshire Police under Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield. Victim blaming.

A Director of Rangers adopted a similar approach and the club did not admit culpability. Spectators helped police carry victims onto the Ibrox pitch and pavilion. A general appeal went out for first aiders. Fifty-three bodies, still in their club’s colours, were laid out on the pitch.

Mist was falling in Govan and ambulances, police and fire engines were delayed by the crowd leaving the stadium, unaware of the tragedy. Eye-witness accounts such as eighteen-year-old, First-Aid assistant, Ian Holm told us he wasn’t even sure what happened and he was inside the stadium.

At Hillsborough there was panic and no coordinated response. The Miner’s Strike 1984-85 had given the police force a blank cheque in Yorkshire. They were dealing with the enemy, working-class men. Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield already knew the official line before any major event. It had worked before and drawn nothing but praise. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun (let’s not call it a newspaper) carried reports of looting and drunken brawling among Liverpool supporters. Let’s not forget a frail and senile acting Murdoch appearing before a Common’s Committee after the News of the World debacle. Then suddenly regaining his mojo in time to help the moron’s moron get elected. That’s the kind of leverage he had then and now. But long memory.  Graham Sourness, the ex-Liverpool captain and Rangers manager, was ostracised in Liverpool for taking the Sun’s money for a story a few years later.

Mary, my partner, watched the first episode with me. She was crying. I guess, like many others, we’ve been there before with unexpected deaths that don’t make sense or the news.

‘But he was already dead,’ she said. ‘What more could they have done?’

I tried to explain about the official delays to ambulances. The chaos of fans using pitch-side barriers to carry victims away. Impromptu, mouth-to-mouth and heart massage. And this is what Anne Williams heard. She was convinced her son cried out her name. A volunteer policewoman said he’d been alive. The coroner said he’d most likely been brain dead and that was highly unlikely. He imposed a 3.15 pm cut-off point, after which anyone on the pitch was presumed to be already dead.

‘What happened to my boy?’

An Observer report concluded if Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield and his compromised police force had behaved professionally, 40 victims might well be alive. In other words, Frank Williams, who was breathing, might well be alive.

What have we learned from Hillsborough? Nought. I look at the Grenfell tower fire. The way the official narrative switched when officials could no longer blame the victims, but instead focussed on those that had cheated and were trying to claim compensation money they weren’t due. Then those that were victims were allowed their day in court. When that was out of the way, the adults in the room could get on with the real business of cutting a deal. No one to blame. Nothing to see. Business as usual.   

Savile: Portrait of a Predator, ITV, STV 9pm, ITV Hub

https://www.itv.com/hub/savile-portrait-of-a-predator/10a1253a0001

https://www.abctales.com/story/celticman/jimmy-savile-and-me

Ten years ago, Sir Jimmy Savile died. His funeral was an event that featured on the news. The great and the good appeared, in sombre tones, mourning our loss. People lined the streets to pay their respects. Sir Keith Stammer was Director of Public Prosecutions. Operation Yewtree was set up in London in 2012 to investigate his alleged sexual offences after girls from Duncroft, a children’s home in Surrey, featured in the tabloids saying he’d sexually abused them. Detective Gary Pankhurst said he followed up on hundreds of reports. He classified Savile as a high-functioning psychopath.

Spokesmen from Surrey Police admitted they’d interviewed the 80-year-old Savile in 2009. A familiar pattern emerged of Savile getting away with everything short of murder.

The question WHY is easily answered.

He was wealthy.

He was a celebrity. He didn’t work for the BBC. The BBC worked for him. They created a show, Jim’ll Fix It, and it did. It fixed it for the serial paedophile.

He counted Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles as his personal friends. He was part of the British establishment, given a knighthood in 1990. He had access to Kensington Palace and wandered about at will. Princess Diana thought he was creepy, when he tried to lick her hand. Prince Charles failed to comment on Savile’s posthumous reputation as a serial paedophilic abuser of around 500 mostly preadolescent girls. That’s an estimate by NSPCC. Being a conservative, that is a conservative number.  

He had high-ranking policemen friends that acted as minders.

He had criminal friends that acted as minders.

He could play nice, but he could also play scary.

Sylvia Edwards, now 63, appears on the programme. Back then, in the nineteen-seventies, she’s been given the nod by Savile, picked up by runners for Top of the Pops, a show regularly watched by 15 million. There she is onscreen beside celebrity Jimmy Savile as he speaks to his audience at home in their living rooms. The moron’s moron and fellow psychopath, ex-American President, admitted he grabbed women by the pussy, but it was never shown on camera. But here it is on loop, a blonde and very pretty mop-topped girl, jumping up and twisting away as Savile rams his hand up into her pussy.

It was treated as a joke. When she complained to a cameraman, he told her to go away, get lost.

He picked his victims—they were poor and powerless.

A former bass player with Sparks, Ian Hampton, said: ‘I think he regarded Top of the Pops as a happy hunting ground for young ladies. On one occasion I was on Top of the Pops, Savile disappeared with a young girl to a dressing room’.

Claire McAlpine (her image with Savile shown above) for example, an adolescent, who appeared dancing for the cameras on Top of the Pops. She became pregnant, aged fifteen, and killed herself. Her mother had complained to BBC management about her being in Savile’s dressing room.

Hampton asked a producer of the show what was happening with Savile? He wasn’t given answers. Told he was being ridiculous.  

Literally, powerless with a woman interviewed anonymously, telling how she was in a wheelchair, a patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Savile took her away in her wheelchair to abuse her. She was paralysed from the waist down, but she remembered his eyes.

He did charity work. Kerching, this led to lucrative contracts with state institutions such as British Rail, paying him handsomely for acting as their spokesman on child safety, for example. Savile joked that he’d squared it up with Him upstairs for a few things he’d done. Quid pro quo. A peripatetic bachelor, he had the right credentials to become a priest. He had the equivalent of a knighthood with the Roman Catholic Church.

A two-and-a-half-year independent inquiry in France about the abuse of children by clergy, over the past seventy years, found that at least 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by clergy and lay members of church institutions.

“The Catholic church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” the report said.

There’s little reason to believe that similar figures of abuse didn’t also happen in the United Kingdom. And again, these are probably underestimates.

Jimmy Savile was a serial sexual abuser. As each spokesman or woman for the institutions involved run for cover, does this programme offer us anything new?

63 UP, ITV, directed by Michael Apted.

7 Up.jpg

https://www.itv.com/hub/7-63-up-uk/2a1866a0001

‘Give me a child and I will show you the man.’

That old Jesuit or ancient Greek aphorism is alive and well. I’m at 56 and UPward myself and one of my classmates, George Devine’s funeral, was on Wednesday. Arthritis creeps around my bones, but I’m still gloriously alive. When I went to school Mrs Boyle taught us that 9 x 7 = 63 (UP). My life has been in eight instalments, but I’ve followed the nine episodes of this soap opera and read into it things I already know. Class is alive and flourishing in Britain as it was in 1964; a half-hour documentary made by Granada, a World in Action, looked at the state of the nation through children’s eyes.

The villains of the series, as in life, have always been to me the upper classes. I’m like that old priest in Father Ted that when drink is mentioned his eyes glaze and he jumps out of his chair. With me it’s Tories. Fucking, Tory scum.

The first series (7UP) shows us three boys representative of that class, aged 7, Andrew, Charles and John.  They are shown singing Waltzing Matilda in Latin.  In their posh English accents they also boast about what newspapers they read. The Financial Times and Guardian. And tell the viewer exactly what prep school. public school and universities they will attend. And this all comes to pass with Biblical accuracy.  A world away from North Kensington, Grenfell Tower, the same rich South Kensington, London borough, where these boys hailed from.

The exception to the rule was Charles. We see him in 21 UP, long hair, hipster, telling the viewer how glad he didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge and attended Durham University instead. And he was glad of that because it gave him a different view of the world. Ho-hom. He does not appear in the subsequent programmes. Being educated at the right schools and having the right connections, of course, he went on to become something big in Channel 4,  something big in film and theatre and  threatened to sue his fellow documentary maker Michael Apted for using his image. This shows no class at all. Apted being one of those national treasures, like David Attenborough. Imagine, for example, a beluga whale suing Attenborough for impinging on his right’s images and all because of a bit of plastic.

Andrew went on to become a partner in his solicitor’s firm at 31, by that time he’d married outside his class to a good Yorkshire lass, plain Jane and they had two sons, Alexander and Timothy. His firm was taken over by a larger corporation and he regretted spending so much time at work, but in his modest way, admitted those were the choices he made. I quite liked Andrew.

I detested his and my namesake John. Of all the upper-class twats that little Tony wanted to punch, he would have been my prime candidate. I hated everything about him. The way he looked and sounded. His pronouncements that (Luton) car workers with their fabulous wages could afford to send their children to public schools. His life went exactly to the book, his pronouncements, aged 7 UP, realised. He became a Queen’s Council and gained his silk robe. He married the daughter of a former ambassador to Bulgaria and admitted his great grandfather, Todor Burmov, had fought against the Turks to gain independence and had been Prime Minister. No surprise, the gone, gone, gone girl, Teresa May, who attended the same Oxbridge institution, and helped create the hostile environment for immigrants didn’t exactly rush to deport him. John had the wrong accent, the right register of the Queen’s English, fabulous social connections and the pasty-white colour of skin favoured by immigrant officials. Two of his friends were Ministers in the Government.  Even Nigel Farage, the ex-Etonian, would have complained if John had suddenly been napped and put on a flight to Sofia, but then a strange thing happened. I didn’t mind John so much, and actually admired him.

He was one of the few that didn’t tell the viewer whether he had family or not. The reason he kept appearing in subsequent programmes was to promote a charity that helped disabled and disadvantage citizens in Bulgaria. He admitted modestly that he’d worked hard. While that usually would have me thinking nobody had worked harder than coal miners who’d powered the Industrial Revolution and paid in silicosis and black death, or Jimmy Savile who prided himself on being a Bevin boy and working (hard) down the pits and incredibly hard with his charity work and had other interests. John mentioned his mother had needed to work to send him to public school, in the same way that tens of millions of mothers have to work to put food on the table. John gained a scholarship to attend Oxford University, with the inference he was poor. I’m not sure if his mother was a Luton car worker, but I’m sure she didn’t work as a cleaner in a tower block in South Kensington. I didn’t exactly like John, but I understood him better, which is the beginning of knowledge.

I guess like many other viewers I identified with Tony, this tiny kid from the East End of London, his dad a card-shark crook and he looked to be going the same way. Larger than life Tony from 7 UP was a working-class cliché. He was never going to make anything of school. Left at 15 and he tells you early he yearned to be a jockey. He was helping out at the stables and got a job there. I know how he feels. I wanted to play for Celtic and trained with the boy’s club at 15. Trained with Davie Moyes, Charlie Nicholas on the next red gravel training pitch. Clutching my boots in a plastic bag I wasn’t even good enough to be molested by Frank Cairns, although he did give me a passing, playful, punch in the stomach. I guess he was aiming lower down and the lower league. Tony in a later UP series told us he’d ridden in a race against Lester Piggot. He wasn’t good enough, and is big enough to admit it.

Tony with his outdated attitude to women. The four Fs. Fuck them, forget them and I can’t remember the other two. Debbie sorted that out. She gave him three kids and now he’s got three grandkids. Tony admitted he’d had an affair. Tony, plucky London cabbie, having done The Knowledge, as did his wife and son. A spell in Spain trying to work out as a property broker. I guess, I should have guessed. Tony admitted he’d voted Tory all his days and now he wasn’t sure. More of a Farage man. Fuck off Tony.

Tony got a bit heated when he thought Apted had accused him of being a racist. ‘I’m a people’s man,’ he said. ‘You know me.’

Then he talks about the Arabs, in the same way you’d talk about poofs and Paki shops. The Arabs were the only ones that were helping him make money. It wasn’t Uber, that was ripping him off, but Labour that were taking everything and giving nothing back. Fuck off Tony, read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist and find out what part of Mugsborough you’ve moved to. Yet, there were his daughter, something that had gone wrong. Sometimes we’ve got to realise that although we circle the wagons, as Tony claimed, only a community can save us.

The old lies are made new again.

Let’s look at the girls from the same social background as Tony. My kind of people. Straight as a die, Lynn, attended the same primary school as Jackie and Sue. Married for 40 years. Two daughter and two granddaughters, Riley, only two-and-a-half ounces at birth. God bless the NHS. Lynn whose first job was in a mobile library. Lynn, who loved kids and loved helping kids to read. Then she worked in Bethnal Green in the library. Under the Tories, of course, we don’t need libraries; we don’t need women like Lynn. Her job was redundant. She was redundant. RIP.

Jackie was always the mouthy one in the triumvirate of girls pictured together. She  told Apted he wasn’t asking her the right kind of questions and patronising them – which he was, a product of his own class. Jackie, first married of the group. First divorced. Said she didn’t want children, but had three boys and ended up  in a council estate in Scotland, but separated from the father of the two of them, but still in love and in touch with him. Jackie, who had rheumatoid arthritis and told the camera, and David Cameron, if he thought she was fit for work then he should show her what kind of job. Disabled, she was classified as not disabled enough and fit for work. Tory scum. Here it is in person. Public policy without humanity and based on a lie. No great surprise the suicide rate on those deprived of benefits has rocketed. I wonder what Farage, who has never worked and continues to draw a hefty stipend from rich fools and from the European Parliament he wants to destroy thinks about that. We know what he thinks. He thinks what rich people tell him. Jackie can speak for herself. Speak for us.

Sue can think for herself too. She got married to have children and had two kids, but divorced their father because she didn’t love him. Karaoke singer, she met Glen and they’ve been engaged for twenty years or more. She works as head administrator in the law faculty of Queen Mary, University of London. She’s thinking about retirement and does a bit of acting and singing. A working class life, made good. But she worries that the world we’re passing on to her children and our children isn’t as good. Doesn’t have the same level of opportunity and social mobility. She’s right to be worried.

Bruce, representative of the middle class,  who when he was 7 UP claimed to have a girlfriend in Africa that he probably wouldn’t see again and wanted to be a missionary, always had that look on his face as if he’d missed something. His father, perhaps, in Southern Rhodesia.  Bruce was beaten at public school. He freely admits it and agonised whether Christianity was an outdated doctrine and whether it was liveable. I wonder about that too. I see the façade and under the façade more façade. The devil seems to me more real than any god and Jesus whose only weapon was love. Yeh, I like Bruce. For a start, although he was public school and went to Oxford to study Maths, he was never a Tory. He taught maths to children in Sylhet, Bangladesh and in the East End of London (Tony’s old school, if I remember correctly). Late in life he married and had two sons.

Peter, who went to the same school in Liverpool as Neil, was also representative of a different strand of the middle class. Both boys claimed they wanted be astronauts, but Neil hedged his bets and claimed he would be as equally happy being a bus driver. Peter went to university, got a degree and took up teaching. The greatest moment of his life was, he claimed, the 1977 Tommy Smith goal for Liverpool in the European Cup Final in Rome. No mention of his marriage or his teaching career. He dropped out of the 7 UP series after being targeted by the Daily Hate Mail and other right-wing publications for criticising Thatcherism. He later re-appeared, in 56 UP, having remarried and hoping to promote his burgeoning musical career. He claimed to be happy working in the Civil Service. Good rate of pay, good pension. He must be ecstatic now that Mo Salah and Liverpool have given him another greatest moment of his life in Bilbao. Anyone that sees through Thatcherism has walked in my shoes and I love my team, Celtic in the same way he loves Liverpool.

Neil never became an astronaut or bus driver. He did go to study in Aberdeen University, but dropped out in the first year and at 21 UP was living in a squat in London and working as casual labour on building sites. Neil makes for good television. Contrast the bright, beautiful and confidant seven-year-old boy with what he’d become, a shifty-eyed loner, with obvious what we’d term now, mental health problems, or as he admitted depression or problems with his nerves, madness. At 28 UP he was living in a caravan in Scotland. Then he was living in Orkney.  Neil never fulfilled his boyhood potential. But I guess that’s true of us all. Then somehow, in that long curve on life he seemed to be making a comeback. 42 UP he’s living with Bruce and later becomes a Liberal Democrat councillor in Hackney. 56 UP he’s moved again to middle England as well as being a councillor is a lay preacher in the Eden district of Cumbria. Able to administer all the rites of the Church of England, apart from communion. 63 UP he’s living in northern France, a house in the countryside he’s bought with money inherited from his parent’s estate. Neil has become a squire. Like me he hoped to have written something people would want to read.

Nick, educated in a one room school house in the tiny village of Arncliffe, in the Yorkshire Dales, a farmer’s son, who went to Oxford and gained a doctorate in nuclear physics, is a story of meritocracy and upward mobility. He didn’t want to run the farm, he said, perhaps his brother that was deaf, could inherit the farm. Nick wanted to change the world. A fellow student at Oxford commented that he didn’t associate Neil’s Northern accent with intelligence.  He was right, of course, intelligence has nothing to do with accent, and upward mobility has nothing to do with meritocracy. Nick’s comments that Teresa May would never have become Prime Minister if she’s gone to an obscure polytechnic would have at one time seemed inflammatory. But Nick lives and teaches in Wisconsin-Madison. Before Trump, and the moron’s moron continual twittering, nothing has ever been the same again. Nick had a son with his first wife and later remarried Cryss. But in 63 UP he admits to having throat cancer. He’s intelligent enough to know what that mean.

In 56 UP, Nick admitted having long conversations with Suzy, who had appeared in eight of the nine episodes, but not in 63 UP. Suzy when asked about the series when she was a chain-smoking, twenty-one-year old, thought the series pointless and silly. By that time her father had died, she’d dropped out of school and been to Paris to learn secretarial skills. Her upper-class background true to form meant she was a pretty enough catch. She duly married Rupert, a solicitor and prospered as a housewife and mother of two girls and a boy. After 28 UP she glowed with good health.

Symon and Paul were the bottom of the heap in the first series of 7 UP in 1964. Symon was the only mixed race kid in the programme. His mother was white. He missed her when he was in the home. She just couldn’t cope with him, but later they became close.

Symon went to work in Wall’s freezer room. He had five kids and was married by 28 UP. He wanted to be film star. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. At 35 he was divorced and remarried. He remarried a childhood sweetheart. They met in the laundrette. She had a kid and they had a son. They fostered hundreds of kids over the years. If you take away the money Symon has been the biggest success story and has given the most.

Symon and Paul kept in touch and they reunited in 63 UP in Australia where Paul lived. He emigrated, following his father down under. Paul worked in the building trade. He was always one of the shy ones in the programme. He went walkabouts with his wife Susan, who thought him handsome and that he had a nice bum. They had a couple of kids and stacks of grandkids. Their daughter went to university. The first of their family to enter an institution of higher learning. Paul and his wife work together in a retirement home.

The 7 UP series tells us about ourselves. When it began the Cuban Missile Crisis had been played out the threat of nuclear annihilation had passed. Or so we thought. With global warming and tens of millions of migrants on the move, the threat of nuclear annihilation is more likely, but for a different reason, because countries divert rivers and tributaries and claim them as their own.

The jobs that each one did will be redundant. Self-driving cars mean taxing will be for the birds. Amazon are already delivering by drone. Any kind of administration is child’s play for artificial intelligence. The bastion of law and medicine is based on pattern recognition. We can expect the new Google to run our health service, or what’s left of it. Nick, the nuclear engineer, might not have much of a future. The future is green, totally green. Those Arab states that rely on the mono-crop of oil will become bankrupt almost overnight, like a Middle-Eastern Venezuela. Russia has long been bankrupt, but without oil it implodes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take the rest of us with it. Money flows from the poor to the rich at an increasing. rate, like an ever-growing, speeded up, Pacman creating new wealth and eating it up more quickly. We are left with dysfunctional politics, tyranny and chaos. The centre cannot hold. Our homes will be battery powered. Plants and trees are already solar powered. They shall become our new cathedrals. Scotland should be green by then.  That’s something a celticman appreciates.