Sandy Fawkes, who died a couple of years ago, was always a favourite of mine in the 'French'. A couple of triple Bells, and the latest tale of betrayal by yet another film company who reneged on yet another promise to film her trip across the US with a mass murderer, a few scathing dismissals of whatever inferior talent was then in the news, the odd put-down, sharp and painful as a paper cut, to any blow-ins who got too familiar at the crowded bar all provided good value and very good company. I liked her very much.
One topic though never failed to provoke white-hot anger. Sandy was fashion editor on the 'Express' in the '70s, and her old man Wally drew 'Flook' for the Mail. A story came in that was dumped. A kid had been killed by its step-father. It was, she said, not regarded by the paper, or any other, as a story worth pursuing. She protested to the editor; she fought, and was allowed to write a piece of news story on the death of Maria Colwell. Her anger and indignation roused the rest of Fleet Street, and it became front-page news across the country. Well, that was Sandy's story. And every new tale of child abuse never failed to raise in her the anger the poor editor of the 'Express' must have felt back in 1973.
As the 'Standard' reports tonight, Baby P died in fear and pain and utterly betrayed by every adult around him to whom he looked for care and trust; he was paralysed from a broken back, had eight fractured ribs, fifteen wounds to his mouth and in total some fifty injuries to his broken little body. I trust in God that when he gave up the struggle for life and closed his eyes on this world he experienced a last, a final loving embrace from the Father who guides each one of us into that dark night.
His killers - his mother, her boyfriend and a lodger - were today cleared of murder because it could not be determined which had struck the fatal blow.
My skill at words is not enough to express a fraction of the pity, pain and anger that I feel, nor tell of the salt tears that drip on this keyboard as I write. Or of my anger at the purblind icy care of the State that assumes so much and is capable of so little. And I don't mean that there wasn't enough State in Baby P's short life; there wasn't enough of us.
There will be time enough to rail against the lunatic social engineering that makes this horror commonplace. For now, let's mourn the wee man's life. And I miss so much Sandy's eloquent rage at this time.