Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reasons why

My father envied his younger brother Donald.

Donald was the apple of their mother's eye. When he was born my dad was ten, the eldest child. He had been conceived out of wedlock, a great shame in those days. There were five daughters but no more sons and Donald was doted on. Although they both volunteered for the armed services when war broke out in 1939, only the younger nineteen year old was accepted. My dad was turned down on medical grounds. He was stone deaf in one ear following a mastoidectomy as a boy. The military could not guarantee that the enemy would only attack him on his 'good' side. I know that being turned down by the army was a bitter pill for dad to swallow. My mother said that it was the only time she had seen him cry.

Years later Albert, my dad, picked a quarrel with Donald. The evidence of any offence by Donald was flimsy and probably existed only in my father's imagining, but it was sufficient to sustain a one-sided silent feud conducted by him for several years.

Albert fell out in similar fashion with his own father for reasons that Freudian analysts would find easy to explain. In business he faced the humiliation of bankruptcy when his creditors besieged him for unpaid debts. To cap it all my mother who would now be labelled manic-depressive was 'misappropriating' goods from my father's business to feed her addiction to cigarettes and prescription drugs.

Now my father never possessed a gun although he was I think trained in the use of a rifle in the Home Guard. Had he kept one at home it is not inconceivable that he would have been tempted to use it in an attack on any or all of his perceived rivals and adversaries. He didn't. He quarrelled with some. He refused to communicate with, avoided, possibly even hid from, others. But he neither acquired nor used a weapon on them.

If he had, especially in the 1950s the tabloid press would have bayed for his blood. Hanging would have been too good for him. No excuse for his crimes would have been sought or accepted. Attempts to explain the mental state that leads to acts of homicide would have been dismissed as the ramblings of do-gooders.

Which is why I find the coverage of the Derrick Bird murders and the columns and pages of personal biography to account for what happened and what he did so puzzling - and so nauseating. 

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