Who is Christopher Jeffries?

Most people actively try to bury their differences and become like everyone else for fear of ridicule. They want to belong. They want to ‘fit in’. They don’t like to be singled out, have their differences scrutinized, put on microscope slides or in Petri dishes and poked by society. I on the other hand, rejoice in it. I don’t want to belong if it means having to wrestle your individuality into a small space, paint it grey and make it… normal.

Amanda James

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The tattoos, the scars made from real life, the larger than life body frame, the rainbows, etc, etc, etc.

How long have I been different?  Since birth.

Did I will life this way?  Certainly not.  Born unto catholic parents, encouraged to be (heterosexually) married by 18, compliant with every English Lit book…I had been told to read.

I could not stand the conformed pain.  I liked the Dead…not Hall and Oates.  I dressed in what would be called, grunge.  I did not believe in ‘god’ and would express that to any priest or nun…that would ask.

The thing is, I questioned!  Not always the material items.  But always the thought process.

Why does it have to be that way?

Well, because god said so!

Still, 30, 40, years later, we (the collective) assume because someone is not like us…they observe a strange way to living!

Hate to (not) say it, the more we become a global nation…different is normal.

Christopher Jefferies doesn’t look the way you might think. In 2010, when he was arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates, and saw his character traduced by an insinuating barrage of libel in a tabloid press that was yet to see its ferocity curbed, there was an unspoken supposition that lay beneath it all: well, he looks the type.

Had a 40-year-old family man with neat hair and a suitable expression of concern been suspected of the crime, the speculation might have been somewhat restrained. But Mr Jefferies, a retired English teacher who lived alone, combined the prissiness of a polo neck with eccentrically unkempt white hair and a shabby old coat. Under the deranged scrutiny of the media, he had the misfortune to arrange his face in such a way that he appeared to be smirking. This, in the eyes of his tormentors, was enough.

A different man arrived in Cambridge to give a lecture to an audience of students at Anglia Ruskin University earlier this week. These days, Mr Jefferies does not smirk; he appears poised and self-assured, buoyed by the productive bubble of anger that survives even now. He wears winklepickers and a blazer and black shirt that fit him well, and his hair is short and dark. He appears to have lost a bit of weight. By the perverse calculus that deemed his previous appearance indicative of the capacity to kill, his look today would only hint at possible white-collar crime: insurance fraud, perhaps, or tax evasion.

“At times I’ve hardly been able to go anywhere without people stopping me and commenting,” he says with a shrug when I sit down with him afterwards. “I need to be slightly careful how I seem in public, because the chances are someone will recognise me.”

Indeed, more than four years after his surreal experience was taken up as one of those dismaying parables of our age, the world is still not finished with Chris Jefferies. Important people want his opinion on the tortuous aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry, and the question of a suspect’s right to anonymity; in a few months, ITV will screen a two-part drama about his experience by Peter Morgan, peerless chronicler of the most remarkable lives of the era; and then there are lectures such as this one. He even has an agent. “It is not,” he says drily, “the retirement I intended. In different ways, my time has been taken up with the things that followed from it ever since it happened.”

The funny thing is: despite all the trauma of his experience, these days, Mr Jefferies rather seems to be enjoying himself. For one thing, he is steeped in his subject, with an intimidating range of reference and a crusader’s conviction that the press’s worst excesses must be reined in. For another, he is a bit of an orator, making me think, paradoxically enough, of a high court judge. I’m told that his lecture will be an hour, but in the event he speaks fluently, reading from dozens of handwritten A4 sheets, for nearly 90 minutes. He is entirely composed, but there are a few moments – as when he bites with particular force on a description of the tabloids’ material as “private, scandalous, and defamatory” – when his sense of injustice and astonishment is electrifying.

People remain shocked and fascinated by his experience, and the auditorium is packed. Taking questions at the end, Mr Jefferies ranges enthusiastically around the floor like the teacher he was. If his manner has a certain peevish formality, he nonetheless makes the students laugh. His only self-conscious gesture is the occasional flattening of the few flyaway hairs that remain.

After a resounding round of applause and the fervent thanks of the criminology department, Mr Jefferies weighs up his strange new life in a meeting room. That, I suggest, was quite fun. Perhaps the way his life has changed is a silver lining as well as a cross to bear.

“It certainly is interesting,” he agrees. “But people occasionally say, well, are you glad it happened? And the answer to that is no, of course I’m not. I certainly wouldn’t want to go through that again. But on the other hand, if some good does emerge from it all, then yes, I shall be extremely pleased.”

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His fluency – he speaks in paragraphs, albeit rather stiff ones – and commitment make me wonder if he has ever thought of a more formal sort of political engagement, perhaps as one of those idiosyncratic independent MPs who act as Westminster’s occasional conscience. After all, he has concrete goals, already well-documented, that might more easily be brought about in office: the independent statutory regulation of the press; the introduction of a right to anonymity until the moment a suspect is charged. So how about it?

“I don’t think so,” he says. “The problem is that there would be so much that goes on in Parliament and constituency business that I would not really be interested in.”

It’s rather a shame, I remark: his anger is obviously still a source of energy. He smiles faintly. “Well, I’m not unhappy if that is what has come over.”

 

His fluency – he speaks in paragraphs, albeit rather stiff ones – and commitment make me wonder if he has ever thought of a more formal sort of political engagement, perhaps as one of those idiosyncratic independent MPs who act as Westminster’s occasional conscience. After all, he has concrete goals, already well-documented, that might more easily be brought about in office: the independent statutory regulation of the press; the introduction of a right to anonymity until the moment a suspect is charged. So how about it?

“I don’t think so,” he says. “The problem is that there would be so much that goes on in Parliament and constituency business that I would not really be interested in.”

It’s rather a shame, I remark: his anger is obviously still a source of energy. He smiles faintly. “Well, I’m not unhappy if that is what has come over.”

His peculiar good fortune, of course, was to be subjected to such obviously outrageous treatment that his vindication was as big a news story as his vilification had been. “There are many, many, many cases where that isn’t the case,” he says. “So the police have a responsibility as a public body to highlight somebody’s exoneration where there’s been adverse coverage and the person has been shown to be entirely innocent.” This doesn’t come naturally, even in a case as blatant as that of Mr Jefferies. Astonishingly, his bail wasn’t lifted until six weeks after Vincent Tabak, the neighbour who subsequently confessed to killing Joanna Yeates, had been charged.

Mr Jefferies is quietly proud of his determination. He uses the Peter Morgan drama – he has read and approved the script, and talked to Mr Morgan at length – to make a point about what it took to fight back. “There are things in the film which happen in a way that very closely resembles reality,” he says, “and then there are things which happened but in a different way, and there are things that didn’t happen at all.

“But there’s one particularly striking difference to me. In the film, I have to be persuaded by various people to take action. Whereas, in fact, my very first words to the solicitor when he was driving me away from the police station were: somebody has got to be sued for this. That was absolutely my determination from the start.”

I wonder if he learned anything new about himself from it all. He reflects for a moment. “I suppose,” he says matter-of-factly, “that I did discover a certain resilience.”

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Maybe this isn’t terribly surprising. His experience has taught him some distaste for the British way of doing things. “There is something about the puritan element in Britain’s past which is responsible for our sort of secret prurience. That’s the role of the popular press, who reflect on the one hand a moral censoriousness, and on the other this salacious, sensational prying.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/author/archie-bland

 

In the Cold Winter’s Night

Autumn spurns ice cream.

Had the tire tracks been just a dream.

Scratching with  four paws at the door.

They say, bad things happen to good people.

But I say, wicked is wicked.

Like candy from a candy store…there will always be more.

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The signs are still all around in this beat up town.

Rugged is the night, well soiled beaten boots, lonely and homeless…

ten speed bikers abound.

I had not known you but your death lingers in traces of waterfalls and fractured mills.

With innocence of voice could your youth ever be found?

I too get lost from time to time.

Woods shadow my heart…disfigure my mind.

Muddied snowfall calls from a vagrant timber.

Beneath a land of lost souls…I am not always sound.

 

 

What Does ‘Now’ Hate Know of Love

So commonplace now, the trickle down gun shot tears…from a mad clown.

Only means of recourse, to recover the slanted mind from the sand…

somehow.

No vacancy messages.

Airwaves telling of what is to come.

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There are three crows circling from above.

What does NOW hate…know of love?

I could walk the tilted land endlessly searching the heaven’s below.

Rummaging the hell above.

The question will remain…

What does NOW hate…know of love?

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Cycle of Abuse: Extreme Psychosis

In the early, raw days of March, I had been conceived…within a stone soaked, with no remorse, tunnel.  Both parents were state hospital patients.  My father on the criminally insane ward.  My mother…severely depressed in the Brown building.

Deep within the bowels of the catacombs Janice and Harold sucombed to passion in a girth under the earth, idyllically termed, Lover’s Lane.

Had this been this first and only deceit handed down to me?  Had this been the only piece of fiction…I discovered via my own research?  If push came to shove…as it always did during my childhood; Could or would I have forgiven the shame?

I would like to believe I was stable enough in my mid forties, to allot for the transgression.brown building 3

But divides and lies run far and wide.  From the moment I descended to the earth in my belligerent glory, nothing would be normal.

My brother and sister, had had their own demons to share.  A demon and horned devil that came in the shape of my mother’s first husband.

Where had the New Hampshire State Hospital staff been?  Why wasn’t my father, a criminal and murderer, been more closely monitored?

I can say that is typical of state run facilities.  As is the truth about warehousing those with severe mental illness, things get out of hand.  And, people with minimum wage incomes…just don’t care.

On January 4th, 1963, this court being of the opinion that it will be dangerous that the said, Harold Bowley, should go at large.  Ordered that he be committed to the New Hampshire Hospital and there he shall remain until he is discharged by due course of law.

Due course of law?…

On October, 25th, 1965, the said Acting Superintendent requests the court’s permission for the said, Harold Bowley, make off ground visits to include one overnight visit on weekends.

From there on out, after two short years, my father was allowed to stay, overnight, in the house of his psychologist; Mr. John Hawkins.

How did a man, who continues to this day to be a threat to himself and others, get away with murder?  Court evidence revealed a man that observation and study suggests…

‘suffering from a psychotic depression and a danger to the population.  A disease so profound it affects his mind and judgment…’

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HE fuckin’ stabbed his wife 35 times!

Indeed he had conned his way into the psychologist’s home life.  It was in Warner, New Hampshire, where my father would spend his weekends before his release in late 1967.

Mr. Hawkins not only allowed my father into his home.  He led him by the hand.  Introducing him to his wife…and, eventually, his two children, Naomi and Channing.  This is in my educated opinion the utmost defining characteristic of a narcissist.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that the narcissist is someone who has “buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

And, my mother, who held very little esteem.  Held no opinion of self, other than relation to abusive men…My mother fell into the callous and killing hands of my father.  This all took place under the not watchful eye of case workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, district attorneys, judges, etc., etc.

I personally hold Mr. Hawkins, responsible..  And, currently, forty plus years later, refuse to call him a doctor.

Not only did my father enjoy the pleasant views, farm life, non restrictions of living in the wild of Warner…He introduced his whole family to Mr. Hawkins.

I had been taken back.  When first reading Mr. Hawkins name in the court papers.  How he spoke with high recommendation on my father’s behalf.  The name seemed familiar.  How had I known it?

Then a connection…Our families were joined.  Joined at the psychotic hip.

As a child, I could not quite connect, why my parents had been befriended by the Hawkins.  Who were they?  Where did they come from?

The Hawkins family appeared to me, earthy, educated, not mean or aggressive.  Quite different than relatives and others, my family had known.

For that matter, the Hawkin’s and Bowley’s spent many holidays together.  We spent weekends working in John’s small family farm.  Learning of nature.  Speaking on things of importance, politics, religion, life, deep stuff.

Again, I still ask, how does this shit happen?

Mr. Hawkins was later needed to assist my sister, Sybil, in her own ‘breakdown.’

Breech of contract!  Conflict of interest!

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I have long since stopped crying, shaking my head, beating myself up…Over the injustice served to my siblings and I, via the New Hampshire State Hospital.

Course, none of the above could be considered a ‘lie’ per-say.  For in my mother’s chaotic, catholic and dim eyes…Avoiding the truth is not the same as…lying.

Where had my grandparents been?  Wasn’t it strange my mother…was released from the hospital…pregnant?

And, of course, years later, when I asked Janice, my mother, about Harold’s murderous rage…

‘I knew he had killed her.  I didn’t ask him questions.  He seemed upset every time I brought it up…’

 

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Cycle of Abuse: 15 in 1982

I have read many, many, despondent writers, poets, etc.  Persons who, now in adulthood, have come through some depressing, harrowing, childhood situations.  On occasion, I have run across documentaries, news item, etc.  About pre-teen, teen, and young adult suicide.  All due to having lived at the violent hands and words of parents that outwardly appeared ‘normal.’  That inwardly, were the devil’s hand puppets.

Back in or around the early 80’s: Our house had burned down.  Down to the ground.  Standing stoic were the scant charred…2 by 4’s, abandoned ashen table ware and counters.  For all intensive purposes, my fifteen year old eyes witnessed nothing but a shell.

As I have said before, some memories blare at me such like the horn of an irritated driver.  Loud, clear, vibrant.  Other memories, due to my need to persevere, are faded and clouded.  Such like a watercolor painting you once adored but can, now, barely remember.

My siblings had long since been kicked out of the house.  It seemed to be a rite of passage.

You’re eighteen.  You did something to piss me off.  You are now no longer allowed on the land of misfits.”

Generally speaking, both, Bud and Sybil,  were conversatinally gone…Way before being physically excommunicated.  My sister enjoyed the company of questionable boyfriends.  A habit I firmly believe was thrown upon her by my father’s physical abuse.  And, my mother’s lack of emotional attachment.

My brother had his friends.  He partied.  He defied.  He had tired of protecting his mother.  And, at one point or another, during a physical altercation with my father.  There had been threats of guns and severe violence.  Best guess would be that was the point of no return.

After our house became a  photo source for neighbors.  After the smoke cleared, clothes of creosote were tossed and generations of knick knacks were tossed into the trash.  After the chaos of destruction became nothing more than local gossip…I was assigned the task of cleaning pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters.

In other words, our small but precious gallon jug of empty Riunite…that had been filled to the max with change; had succumbed to being spare change among broken glass.  And, it had been my assigned duty to clean each and every piece of  current currency…metal.  imageedit_8_8297636672

“Scrub it clean!  Here’s the toothbrush!  Now get at it.”

Had been the order barked out by both my father and my mother.

Sitting there between the lilac bushes and partially singed grass,  a stool, a toothbrush and pounds of  spare change… lay an endless fall.

With September sun beaming down.  I can still recall how sweat would douse the corners of my mouth and then, splash upon the tainted dime or penny.

My depression ran deep.  And, I had been fully aware of it.  Not knowing at the time about my father’s thirst for killing or psychosis.  Not being fully aware of the how and why of my mother’s terminal sadness.  Not being aware of much.  I knew that life in the Bowley household was not like the pretty white houses with laughter…that dotted the rest of the street.

My brother had since joined the Air Force.  And, my sister had married.  Still there had not been much connection between us.  It seems to me, that had been a scenario my parent had derived.  Either consciously or not.

Indeed, I had been my father’s favorite.  Which meant sports, sports and more sports.  Which meant teaching CCD, being active in youth group and singing in the church folk group.  Which meant I received far more than my share of…

“You can do better than that!  Are you stupid?  I don’t give a flying fuck what other parents do!”imageedit_4_3845432106

Either way, I was a lost budding young adult woman.  In a lost land.  With a bit of house insurance money left over.  My mother begged my father to take her to visit her favorite child, Bud!  Bud, my half-brother, had begun the pursuit of his second marriage in two years.  He had, also been affluent in the use of cocaine.  He had joined the Air-force!

Bud had been stationed in Florida.  And, my parents believed they deserved a break.  A break from the hustle and bustle of rebuilding life after a house fire.

Therefore, it was only reasonable that I should remain behind.  Only reasonable to think my best friend, Michael and, most importantly, his mother, would take me in.

This is where Black Beauties, booze, bad behavior and LSD come into play.  I had indulged at a very young age in Yukon Jack.  But my current course of plaid catholic school skirts, smoke and dope and sex…was in over drive.

Mimi, Michael’s mother, had seen this.  She had known what was about to come.  My intention had been death by over indulgence.  Dropping blotter, smoking weed, playing both sides of addiction against each other.

Mimi in her own hippie way, felt the only need for a deep, profound, change in my behavior…Would be therapy!

It had worked.  I met a wonderful woman named, Eileen.  We met once a week on the second floor above S n W sports.  Her office was filled with Buddha, warm thoughts and reflective flowing waters from an over sized fish tank.

My renewal was instant.  The remorse, guilt and shame that was felt became something talked about in open conversation.  I had not started the house fire.  But my intention on that fateful weekend…was to stay home.

Could I have stopped it?imageedit_11_5911877311

A kind woman in pastel flowing skirt…told me…

“No!”

My relief and new-found comfort within my own skin…Quickly dissipated.  For as soon as my parents returned.  And, even with Mimi’s glowing recommendation.  It was apparent that I would not longer be allowed to see Eileen.

My father ranted and raved over and over again…

“No daughter of mine is going to see a shrink…”

And, my mother…

“You heard your father!”

Funny, I was conceived in the tunnels underneath the New Hampshire State Hospital.  Or, that my father was once deemed insane.  And, my mother a manic-depressive with suicidal tendencies.  Yet, snipping possible self harm in the buttocks, while I was still young.  Seemed out of the question.

Looking back on my vivid with gray strands of depression, as a child and teen.  I think how fortunate I am to have survived.  To be able to function.

Course, there is much more to my parent’s love story.  Much more to the dysfunction.  Starting a few years before my birth and flourishing years after…My disowning the ‘family.’imageedit_14_9427699938