There is nowt more chilling start to the day than knocking on a dilapidated door to an apartment above a boarded up shop. Eventually the door opens and a tousle haired fellow, half awake, beckons you inside.
The hallway is filled with black plastic bin bags, dozens of them, oozing brown liquid and a smell so noxious it could force Saddam Hussein out of hiding.
The curtains are drawn, the floorboards bare of covering. The entire East Anglian chapter of bluebottle flies are holding their annual convention on the slimey fridge top and roar off in angry procession at this unexpected early morning interruption.
‘Tea?’ says the tousle haired one.
You shift from foot to foot, carefully unsticking each shoe from the molasses that was once the kitchen lino.
‘Er, No thanks, just had one’ you cheerfully lie.
He seems friendly enough, amiable even. Unwashed, unshaven, probably about 30, looks fit enough.
‘I understand there’s a problem with the probate of your parent’s farm’, you say.
‘Yeah, yeah’ he says in a non-committal way.
‘Would you like to tell me about it’
And he does. He launches into a long disconnected ramble, which somewhere along the line mentions case law you dimly remember from the dreaded law finals.
The nub of the matter, he calmly tells you, is that he murdered his father, and his mother, who was present, died of shock.
It had meant a bit of a hiccup in probate of the estate. There is common law that you cannot inherit an estate where you have murdered the benefactor.
The case was going well he tells you, his ‘brief’ had proved to the court that there was no planning involved in the murder, he just ‘suddenly thought’ that whacking his father over the head several dozen times with a tyre lever was a good way to spend the morning. So it was manslaughter through diminished responsibility, not murder. Everything would be fine. They’d changed the law, you know, and he would still inherit the estate.
You hope and pray that he doesn’t ‘just suddenly think’ that whacking you over the head with a tyre lever might be on the cards for today, for it is still 8.30 in the morning, and there is not a soul about.
You remember the dozens of bin liners in the hallway, and wonder what they may contain.
‘Did you go to prison’ you ask, in a friendly, don’t want to upset you, needn’t answer if you don’t want to, sort of way.
‘Nah, they sent me to some dump up in Lancashire, soon sorted them out’
‘Er, the farm’s in ‘x’, and your living in East Anglia, why didn’t you go back to the farm? Who’s looking after the farm?’
‘Been over here picking strawberries’, he says, mentioning a strawberry farm just a bare mile and a half from your home.
‘But that’s miles from here’.
‘I sleep in my car; park it up in the woods there’
(Thinks, would that be the woods where I walk my dog every morning? Time for a new dog walking route.)
‘Have you got a social worker’ You ask.
‘Did have, she got right uppity, said she wouldn’t come back here ‘til the bags had gone’
‘Well, it might be an idea to put your rubbish out’ you say cautiously.
‘S’not out, its in, f**king burger bar next door, the f**king drunks leave burgers on me doorstep’
(Ah, decomposing hamburgers, that would account for the smell)
‘Then she got right upset when the Old Bill gave us me chain saw back’
I was reminded of this fine example of ‘care in the community’ and the genial fellows that social workers – and surviving parents – are expected to look after as they revel in their ‘Human Rights and freedom for all’ by this tale.
Paranoid schizophrenic Leslie Gadsby, 38, was detained at a psychiatric hospital after killing his father, Arthur, 63, and seriously injuring his mother, Edna, in a frenzied attack with a claw hammer in 2004.
But he was freed under the care of mental health services and earlier this week allegedly stabbed his 70-year-old mother to death at his flat in Tuebrook, Liverpool.
Health chiefs have refused to reveal when and why Gadsby was released from hospital.
Last night politicians called for an urgent investigation into how Gadsby was allowed back into the community with such apparent freedom.
Why just Gadsby? There are dozens of Gadsbys out there in the community. Dozens? Hundreds? You just read about them in the papers, but someone, somewhere, has to call in and see them, invariably a relative, for social services are remarkably adept at ‘dropping them off their list’ for a myriad of reasons that never once mention ‘scared stiff of them’, and sometimes that person happens to call and see them the next time a ‘sudden thought’ drops into their tortured mind.
We call this progress. Those of us who live in Primrose Hill and like to think of new ways in which to use the Human Rights Act.
Those of us who have to drop in and out of their lives take a different viewpoint.
‘Care in the Community’ is a disgrace. We need ‘Care for the Community’.
No, I’ve no idea where he is now. Could be living just down the road from you.
UPDATE: I thought Scott Clinic rang a bell. They are the same muppets that let Graham Stridgeon out to play.