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”. 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.
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?
I photographed this rhododendron in bud a day or two ago;
as I did this flowering cherry.
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.