Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas

Shrine of the Nativity in Bethlehem, by David Roberts, circa 1840.

I'm off to Bristol for a few days tomorrow, followed by trips to Stoke-on-Trent, and Cardiff.

Hope you all have a good Christmas and thanks for reading the blog.

- roGER

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Road Block

The corner of London Road and Victoria Street this morning

The drive to work this morning was almost over before it started. A white and blue plastic tape marked POLICE blocked off the end of Victoria Street from London Road.

Beyond it perhaps 20 police men and assorted cars, vans, and equipment. It took two forms to be filled and a supervisor to satisfy before I was allowed to drive under the tape…

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere around where I live for a past couple of weeks. At times (such as this morning) there’s the initial surprise at finding the road blocked, and then the increasingly familiar sensation of being an extra in some police drama. Unreal. Just like the crime itself.

Wonder if I’ll be allowed to park the car at home this evening?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


"S" calls and wants an escort for her Christmas shopping this evening. I pick her up on my way home from work, park at home (on the edge of the red light district) and we wander into town.

The sense of fear is palpable - a sort of white portacabin with police markings has been set up on the corner of London Road. Beside it is a sort of awning with a big television camera and a few bright lights. Next to that is a van with a satellite dish on the roof. A couple of police cars are parked nearby and the policemen and women look tired and stressed.

Along London road we see a couple of police cars and no street girls at all. "S" wants to check out Handford Road so we take a detour and find that empty too - but for the police car parked at the crossroads further down. The few women we see are all accompanied.

In the town centre it's much quieter than usual which makes the shopping less painful. "S" is upset by the murders - she went to school with one of the missing girls, whom she remembers as normal if a little badly behaved and easily distracted.

One of the oddest facts of the case is that the police seem unwilling to reveal or unable (!) to discover the cause of death of the first two victims, Gemma and Tania. A story yesterday speculated that they had perhaps been poisoned. If so, that's really bizarre, and would surely indicate the murderer is someone with real expertise. If the police are being truthful in saying that there were no signs of a struggle then the murderer is managing to give them some kind of drug in a fatal dose without the victims detecting it. Only someone like a doctor, a nurse, a medical orderly, or perhaps a chemist or maybe (just maybe) someone with access to animal poisons could accomplish that.

There again, the third victim was strangled, so maybe (urgh) the first two bodies had simply been submerged in the stream too long and decomposed too much to reveal the cause of death.

Psychological profiling is a very inexact science, and only the police have all the facts, as it's routine to withhold certain types of information in all murder cases, if only to weed out the sad sacks who always 'confess' to crimes they didn't do.

Based on what I've read and heard, here's my best guess:

  • Male
  • Local, or once lived for many years in Ipswich or the surrounding area
  • Driver
  • Has visited prostitutes in the past
  • A charming 'nice man' who is able to conceal his excitement at having found another victim. (He's persuaded three fairly experienced street girls to get into his car at a time when two of their colleagues had been found dead). In fact he may well be a 'regular.'
  • Married or in a long-term relationship and 'fits in' to the local community - doesn't fit the 'quiet loner' stereotype. His wife or partner may have her suspicions but doesn't know of his killings.
  • Hates women, and especially hates prostitutes for some reason.
  • Ordinary looks, probably on the ugly side
  • Rich fantasy life
  • Impotent (none of the evidence so far suggests any of the victims were sexually assaulted)
  • Has some find of past criminal record for something like flashing, or possibly assault or 'wife beating.'
  • On a micro level he's well organised and resourceful, on the macro level he's killed five women in less than 40 days, and probably three women in less than a week - in other words he's completely out of control.
  • If he does poison his victims, then he's learned how to do that, which suggests someone intelligent and experienced with poisons or drugs.
  • At least three of the victims have been short and slim (Gemma was very thin) - perhaps he likes 'children?'

Not much use really is it?!?

The best the police can hope for is lucky break. For instance Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was finally arrested after he was stopped for riding a bike without lights, and became nervous when questioned.

After the shops I drive "S" to her home and we watched the news together. When I returned home just now the streets were cold and deserted, but for the police cars.


Friday, December 08, 2006

New Coat of Arms

Cool Britannia 28 years before its time

A few weeks ago I went to see the new James Bond film “Casino Royale.”

Normally I’d have plenty to say about this, as it not only marks a fresh start for a very old series, but it also features poker and a rather nice DB5. Sadly Gemma’s disappearance meant I was in completely the wrong mood for the film, which is quite a bit darker than of old, and features a harrowing extended drowning scene. But it was a good film, and the only thing that really disappointed was the title sequence, normally the most dependably enjoyable part of any Bond film, even the really crap ones made back in the 1980s.

For many years I was looking for a DVD loaded with nothing but these title sequences, but nothing was ever produced.

But now we have You Tube, where you can see the whole evolution of the titles from the early 1960s onwards. At their best, the sequences have a dreamy erotic vibe that hints of danger and a fetish for guns and killing. At their worst, they desperately attempt to be thrilling and sexy but come across as camp and kitsch and horribly dated instead. Most are the work of a bloke called Maurice Binder, who seems to have something of Bond in him himself Charles Taylor describes him as “an art collector, a lover of women, [and] a lifelong bachelor.”

A personal fave is the coat of arms from the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). It’s a shame that New Labour missed it in their rebranding Britain/Cool Britania phase in the 1990s. Never mind - it still works. Britannia and two naked women, one of whom is chilling on the floor and maybe about to pass out surround a union flag cocktail glass that seems full to the brim. Above it is the crown, below a motto which is blank. In a prosperous country renowned worldwide for its binge drinking culture, illiterate tabloids, and high teenage pregnancy levels the image suits us perfectly.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bolton Resigns

This blog is getting way too miserable of late, so it's nice to report some good news; United States Ambassador to the UN John Bolton resigned on Monday.

You only have to look at a picture of Bolton to realise what a repulsive buffoon he is.

Go a little deeper, examine the record, and the portrait becomes even uglier - that of an idealogue and bully, for whom rage and contempt is the usual emotional state. A uniquely polarising figure, it seems everyone who knows Bolton well hates him, including those who share his extreme right wing views.

Of all the turds the extreme right wing squeezed out to fill the sewer of Dubya's adminstration, Bolton will always be remembered as an extra large, extra stinky curler. And that's just the moustache.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Gemma was found dead in a stream late on Saturday morning.

Despite being entirely expected, it's a sad piece of news and the Suffolk Constabulary have started a murder enquiry.



From 1990 to 1996, for reasons that made no sense at the time and still don’t, I lived in Paris.

Since April 1996, I’ve returned there perhaps three times, or maybe twice. The third or second time was last week, when a really lovely couple whom I owe a lot invited me over for a Thanksgiving meal.

It was nice to see the city again, and nice to be reminded just how wonderful the Eurostar is once it gets off the crap English line and rolls up to it's cruising speed of 300Kph (186 mph) through the Pas de Calais and Picardy.

The meal was lovely – it's the American version of Christmas lunch but with a lot of sweet ingredients that make it so much better than the turkey and veg I’ll scoff in 19 days time.

It was also lovely to see so many old friends, in many cases for the first time in 10 years. Disconcertingly, one or two looked much better than I remembered them.

Great week-end!