"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My connections to recent developments at Home and Abroad

A potential perpetrator of the unsolved murder of JonBenet Ramsey is about to be extradited from Thailand. This breaking story is taking me back a decade, and reminding me of curious connections to the sad and long-running saga.

For eleven years we lived less than an hour from Boulder, Colorado, a lovely, thriving, artsy university town beside the mountains. We'd drive up for a concert or to eat in a favourite restaurant or to visit the wonderful shops on Pearl Street or to explore the antiquarian bookshops or for one of my booksigning events. Much as I loved it, I never wanted to live there. The place was a fishbowl.

Less than two years after becoming year-round residents of New England, the story broke. From the moment I heard the news, I didn't believe the parents had committed the murder. It just didn't fit the facts. I hated that the mainstream and tabloid press were crucifying those grieving parents, mostly because of the ineptitude of the Boulder police and DA's office, and the aggressiveness of the primary on the case. And beauty pageants featuring small children tarted up like JonBenet was, look very strange to non-participants. (And to me, I admit.)

I don't think there's a template for behaviour of the parents of a kidnapping and murder victim. But since family members are usually the first targets of an investigation, the best thing to do would be to lawyer up, and get the very best legal advice possible.

The Ramseys are human and thus they are flawed. Under the intense heat and light of public scrutiny, flaws and odd characteristics will be revealed. Unfortunately for them--and the investigation process--their words and actions could be used against them.

When Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey and their young son moved to the Atlanta area, they purchased a magnificent home from distant cousins of mine--one of them a lawyer. My relatives' depictions of the couple confirmed my belief in their innocence. For a long time afterwards, that house (which I think my parents actually visited in the past) became the target of long-lens cameras.

Eventually the Ramseys had to sell it, in order to fund their massive and ever-growing legal fees.

Everyone comments on how sad it is that Patsy Ramsey didn't live to witness this day. I agree.

But who knows what the outcome of Karr's purported confession will be? For things to have got so far, I suppose there must be a considerable cache of evidence, none of which--naturally--the Boulder DA's office is able to discuss publicly. It's almost incomprehensible that the case might be solved so many years later...but I do hope so.


On another topic, that of the ongoing terrorism investigations in the UK, I can't help being annoyed with the constant description of High Wycombe as "a London suburb."

High Wycombe

Not as far as I'm concerned. They're at least 40 miles apart!

My ancestor John Buckner of London, who in July 1661 married Deborah Ferrers in High Wycombe, would have been familiar with every mile separating the two. Theirs was something of a "long distance" courtship. Not sure what they'd think about the modern townscaping. Those giant balls clash a bit with the ancient architecture, and threaten to trip up pedestrians.

Now, of course, when driving round South Buckinghamshire, one quickly runs up against the suburban sprawl of the Metropolis. And it's quite a short ride on Virgin's commuter rail service out of Euston Station.

But even so, High Wycombe maintains its own distinct identity. For me, and I suspect for my friends living there, it's not inevitably associated with London.

Well, that's enough opinion on current events from me today. On with the chapter-in-progress. I had to partially re-write its opening section yesterday.

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