These Are Your Lives

The elderly member of our household, having exhausted antiques programmes, box sets and railway videos, has found the complete series of This is Your Life and apparently – since this is Youtube – Jimmy Savile is still on there. I guess it’d be interesting to watch, since otherwise every trace of him has been expunged from the world, but I don’t know if, knowing what I know now, I could bear to watch it. There was an interview with Joan Bakewell at the weekend and amongst other things – detailing the sexual harrassment she received in her youth; I still remember her being referred to as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’ – saying that in fact nobody did know about Savile. I can well believe it – these people are clever. They hide in plain sight.

Along the same lines was serial killer Dennis Nilsen, portrayed brilliantly and enigmatically by David Tennant on ITV. Des, as he was known, is here an enigmatic figure, at first seemingly baffled by his own crimes, wanting to be helpful to the police, to ‘clear all this mess up.’ He gives them details and confesses freely to a number of murders. But how much was he concealing? How many other murders did he commit and not admit to? The question ‘was he mad or bad?’ – never in any case a simple either/or – was decided in court when he was convicted of multiple murders, but is left entirely open in the series. Des is well worth a watch – in fact it’s so good I may watch it again. And it also has the excellent Jason Watkins, who impresses me more every time I see him.

TV-wise, there’s a lot to look forward to in the autumn: the return of Spitting Image, a new series of The Crown and the second instalment of His Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife. There’s so much good TV in fact that it’s hard to restrict one’s viewing hours – but I must. To that end, OH and I have started doing the ‘Shabbat’ thing again, turning off all devices from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The aim is basically to reconnect – with yourself and others, with nature, with your thoughts, whatever – and avoid distractions. We did it last week and it was great, except that we hadn’t planned it too well and I did in fact need to use laptop and mobile for some scheduled events. But next weekend we will do better.

The thing that I was going to say, before I got completely sidetracked, was this: what if there were a Hindu or Buddhist version of This is Your Life? Imagine how that would go: Eamonn Andrews would come along with his big book and say, ‘Tonight, Dev Patel, these are your lives. You were born first of all in 4 BC in Ancient Rome…’

It’s fun to think about.

Happy Tuesday.

Kirk out

Short Story Serial: Two Looks Like Murder Episode 5

Finally I find my voice. ‘You can’t do this,’ I say. ‘It’s false imprisonment.‘ (I’m talking off the top of my head and the phrase doesn’t seem quite right.) Barry says nothing; the driver says nothing. ‘I’ll go to the police,’ I say. No response. In frustration I yell, ‘What the hell do you want?’

Barry rounds on me furiously. ‘What do I want? What do I want? A man doesn’t ask much of his wife, just that she shaves her disgusting hairy body and does she oblige him? She does not. She goes her own sweet way.’ I open my mouth and close it again. In the mirror the taxi driver winks; if I had a knife I’d stick it right in his eye.

Barry’s still talking and I let him; gives me time to think.

Outside our house Barry pays the driver with a twenty then locks my arm in that same iron grip. He propels me indoors (he has a key? where’d he get that?) and drives me upstairs ahead of him. He locks me in the bathroom, saying, ‘Now shave yourself before your husband gets home.’

Dear god.

I consider my options. Shaving or not-shaving is one pair; escape or not-escape is another, as is escape-now or escape-later. I’ll go to the police, have them both arrested. Coercive control! That’s the phrase. I’ve been suffering coercive control. And I don’t just mean today – I’ve been suffering it for years. But what to do now? Maybe I could shave just this once? Pretend to go along with it, put them off the scent? Maybe. I open the cupboard and there at the back sits the cut-throat razor, still matted with hair and blood – my hair, my blood. That bastard, he couldn’t even be bothered to clean it. Immediately another pair of options springs into life, silver and sharp.