The Death Penalty

This morning we visited New Milton’s Birchfield Dental Practice, where Mr Hefferan relieved me of one of my choppers which was rather loose. His painless technique was a little more sophisticated than the application of my mother’s fingers many decades ago.

My Dad was a fan of the novelist Edgar Wallace. This is what prompted me to buy a second-hand copy of ‘The Flying Squad’ a good thirty or more years past. A recent exchange with Brian, LordBeariofBow, prompted me to get around to reading it. I finished doing so in the waiting room while Jackie was having her less drastic treatment.

A fairly standard early 20th century detective thriller that would seem tame if translated to today’s TV series, so often penned by women, my copy was the 1940, 13th edition of the 1926, work. Produced during the time of the Battle of Britain, this book has survived longer than would a modern counterpart. A hardback, suffering a little foxing and browning of paper, it is still quite durable. I know it has been read previously for there were one or two minor stains and the occasional crumb lodged within.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Wallace’s novel is it’s constant reference to the death penalty of which the villains were in fear. Had I committed murder before I was almost thirty, I could well have been hanged.

It was not until the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 that the death penalty for murder was abolished, although it was to survive in Northern Ireland until 1973. Wikipedia  tells us that ‘the Act was introduced to Parliament as a private member’s bill by Sydney Silverman MP.’ It provided  ‘that charges of capital murder at the time it was passed were to be treated as charges of simple murder and all sentences of death were to be commuted to sentences of life imprisonment. The legislation contained a sunset clause, which stated that the Act would expire on 31 July 1970 “unless Parliament by affirmative resolutions of both Houses otherwise determines”.[3] This was done in 1969 and the Act was made permanent.’

On 13 August 1964, Peter Anthony Allen, at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and Gwynne Owen Evans, at Strangeways Prison in Manchester, were executed for the murder of John Alan West on 7 April that year. They were the last of such UK executions.

Perhaps better known victims of the hangman were Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged, and Derek Bentley who had met a similar fate two years earlier.

Film, TV, and stage productions have recounted the story of Ruth Ellis who died in 1955, and Derek Bentley, the subject of a 1991 British drama film directed by Peter Medak and starring Christopher Eccleston, Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell.

The Bentley case led to a 45-year-campaign to win him a posthumous pardon which was granted in 1993, A further campaign resulted in the quashing of his murder conviction in 1998.

The gun that killed PC Sidney Miles had been fired by Bentley’s companion, 16 year old Christopher Craig, who was too young to hang. The finding of guilt hinged on the interpretation of Bentley’s cry, ‘Let him have it’. The jury interpreted the phrase to mean ‘Kill him’. The defence view was that he meant ‘Hand over the gun’.

Those two 1950s executions stayed in the memory of this then young boy.

Late this afternoon I wandered around the garden.

Bee? in flight

When I recently photographed an insect such as this one making a bee-line for euphorbia, I described it as a wasp. I don’t think it really can be. A bee, or a hoverfly, perhaps?

Rhododendron

I photographed this rhododendron in bud a day or two ago;

Cherry flowering

as I did this flowering cherry.

Erigeron

The erigerons outside the back door are recovering well from their severe haircut.

This evening we dined on shepherds’ pie, carrots and cauliflower. Jackie drank more of the Côtes de Gascoigne, and I drank Lion’s Lair Shiraz 2013.

Mains Gas

 CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.
 
Last night I finished reading ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ by Anthony Trollope. Originally published in serial form, like other Victorian novels, this saga of family and politics was the forerunner of today’s television series. The book was the first of the Palliser sequence. It is longer than most readers would like in the modern world, but it repaid the time investment. I won’t give away any details, but can say that the author writes fluently and keeps us interested in the interrelated lives of his protagonists.
 
David Skilton’s introduction to my Folio Society edition is helpful and informative.

 I have to say, however, that the illustrations by Llewellyn Thomas were most disappointing. The drawings are heavy, wooden, and badly sketched. I attach two examples to make my point. In the first, we are to believe that the gentleman descending from the carriage is pointing at the other man, at whom he is not even looking. In the other, is it really credible that any of the limbs really belong to any of they figures from which they awkwardly dangle?
 
This afternoon we attended Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton where we underwent new patients’ assessments by Matthew Hefferan. More of what is required anon.
 
Lymington Lifeboat Station
 
After this we drove to Lymington where I wandered along a section of the harbour opposite the lifeboat station.
 
Lifeboat jackets
 
Its shop is seen on the right. Not visible in that shot are the jackets hanging in the window the left.
 
Slipway
 
At the bottom of the slipway pontoon
 
Reflected bins
 
stands a row of waste bins that were reflected in the still water on the other side.

 I had to admire the skill required to pack in the rows and rows of moored boats.
 

 
The juxtaposition of two signs, not too far apart, rather intrigued me,
 
so I had to Google:
 
“The kill cord, or ‘engine safety cut-out switch’ to give it its proper name, is a device used to stop the engine in the event of the helmsperson being thrown out of their seat. It consists of a length of cord or plastic wire connected to a kill switch on the engine or dashboard of the boat.19 Nov 2014

Kill cords: Everything boatowners need to know – Motor Boat & Yachting

www.mby.com/gear/kill-cords-43376″
Black headed gull
 
A few black headed gulls paddling around the silt were the only visible sign of life in and around the harbour.
 

 The Wight Link ferry made its way out towards the Solent.
 

 
Mains gas has not yet come to us in Downton. It was, however brought to the town of Lymington in 1832. This monument celebrates the event and expresses
 
Lymington gas monument 3
 
the gratitude of the people to its benefactor.
 
This evening we dined on Jackie’s Post House Pie, with Yorkshire pudding, crisp carrots, green beans, and broccoli. I drank Lion’s Lair shiraz 2013.