Heretic TOC is on tour right now.
I am writing far from home, on a borrowed PC, in the midst of a seasonal round of boozy festivities with friends in London and elsewhere, in what has become something on an annual catch-up fest. It’s because I live at such a distance from the capital, you see, which is where many old pals happen to be. I’d like to see them more often, but…
On the most festive day of all, though, I expect to be back in my northern fastness, rapt in the Scrooge-like pleasure of counting my money. Not that I have much, but the quiet days towards the end of the year are the one time I can focus on sorting out my accounts for the tax people.
Anyway, this on-the-road thing gives me a bit of an excuse for the slight delay in providing a new link to the promised audio recording of my interview with Steve Humphries of Testimony Films. Following my recent blog Inadmissible Testimony, I left a comment saying, inter alia, this:
Several heretics have requested me to post the audio recording of my unused interview with Steve Humphries of Testimony Films. I don’t see why not. I agreed not to make the recording public, which was a stipulation designed to safeguard Channel 4’s interest in the material. As the programme has now aired without using it, that obligation would appear to be at an end.
I duly posted a link to the recording but withdrew it when I was told it was difficult to download. David Kennerly kindly offered to do some technical wizardry which has resulted in a new recording with excellent sound, and also greatly compressed so it is much easier to download. He has also edited it to make just one file rather than the original six. Amazingly, this single .wma file is only 30MB for a recording of two hours and nine minutes. If anyone has problems with it, other formats are now available too.
You will duly find the link below. If I hesitate to put the link in here, or here, it is because I am finding an emotional need to prevaricate and explain. The more I have thought about it in the days, and now weeks, since the Channel 4 broadcast, the more anxious and inhibited I have become.
It’s not that have any worries on legal or ethical grounds, nor do I regret anything I said in the interview, except for one word: I said “wolf” where I meant to say “fox”, but people will get my meaning, I think: the reference is to a famous Spartan legend that every schoolboy knows – or would have done in the days when schoolboys, if not schoolgirls, were routinely immersed in the Classics.
No, it’s not such much what I said nor even, for the most part, the way that I said it. I am not a natural speaker, but I think I came over pretty well for about two hours. The other nine minutes or so, however, are another matter. And as these wobbly moments are quite close to the beginning, listeners should perhaps be warned what to expect. I can only hope that people here, of all places, will be charitable in their response.
To set the scene, I should just reprise a few words from my earlier blog. I wrote:
I spilled my guts out for that interview and I know it was a good one, after a lot of preparation and an emotionally draining encounter with Humphries. It was all the tougher, oddly, thanks to his gently searching style. His kindness was killing. My answers could only come from the heart, at times painfully so when the questions reached deeply into the personal realm – a place no aggressive inquisitor could touch; the defences would be up.
What proved particularly tough for me was an unexpected visit by Humphries to a difficult time in my past, when I was young. I am not sure why I was so unprepared. In retrospect, the topic in question was an obvious one to explore. My mistake was to assume I needed to focus my preparation solely on rational arguments and scientific evidence, and how to present things in a rhetorically persuasive fashion. This all seemed very remote from ancient details of my personal history. In retrospect it was a silly oversight on my part, but that is with the benefit of hindsight.
OK, time to stop beating about the bush. I was overly emotional. My paternal lineage is Irish but I was brought up in 1950s England into the culture of the British stiff upper lip. I hate the public displays of emotion that are so ubiquitous in the media these days, which appear to have started in the UK with the mass lachrymosity of the British public in response to the death of Princess Diana (a person most of the “mourners” had never met and knew little about) and which now extend to the winners (and losers) in televised cake-baking contests and such like: no event is too trivial to be the occasion for weeping these days.
As for more serious matters, we are not so much a liberal democracy now as an increasingly illiberal lachrymocracy: it is the weepers and wailers – sometimes with good cause but often not – who call the dirgical tune and imperiously demand we should all sing it.
But enough. The audio is here, on Dropbox.
Younger readers will not remember the blank space left at the end of newspapers headed STOP PRESS , reserved for a sentence or two of late news. There is no need on the internet to stop the presses but I do need to squeeze in at least a brief reference to news that has been accumulating during the month and cannot decently be ignored any longer.
This month has seen judges in Britain falling over themselves to pass draconian sentences in sex cases involving children. There was a double whammy at the start of the month, when it was reported that “paedophile doctor” Myles Bradbury, convicted of offences against his young cancer patients had been sentenced to 22 years in jail; we also heard that John Allen, who ran children’s homes, had been jailed for life for “sexually assaulting youngsters in a campaign of abuse spanning decades”. Just as striking in its ferocity, was a sentence of 25 years handed down about a week ago, on former DJ Ray Teret, jailed for rapes and indecent assaults “on girls as young as 12”.
These sentences were the “big three”. Life terms have long been in use against repeat offenders, which Allen was in a technical sense, having been convicted previously in 1996. But the new charges were all “historic”, going back to before 1996. It is not as though he was a recidivist. As for the other cases, terms of 20 years or more are vanishingly rare for any offence, and mark a sharp uptick in severity to positively American levels.
As I say, this is just STOP PRESS news. I have yet to consider these cases in any detail or assess whether the offences were particularly awful. There may have been seriously aggravating factors but one has to doubt whether they were so bad as to justify sentences longer than would be given for horrifically violent attacks leading to serious injury and even death.
Heretic TOC definitely aims to say more about this draconian trend before long, probably after the sentencing of Charles Napier, which is due to take place on the 23rd of this month. Happy Christmas, Charles! It is public knowledge that I knew Charles, as we served together on the executive committee of PIE in the 1970s. I also knew Chris Denning, the former DJ who was sentenced only yesterday to 13 years for historic offences: we met in prison in 2006.
While I have no direct knowledge of the cases against either Charles or Chris, and I am not in a position to see things from the point of view of the “victims”, I do think I have something valid to offer in terms of my personal assessment of the character of these guys.
So, more in due course!