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About four years have gone. Gone.

I don’t feel old and don’t feel like I am missing out on life or that time flies by unnoticed – that is, until I put a date to something.clockted

Like now – when I look at the last blog posted around 2013 – that’
s four years, almost one and a half thousand days.

tic toc tic toc

my mind starts drifting to how many hours of paid work I could have done in this amount of time – let me do an exercise:

Say 1000 days (for ease of calculation – I’m not the worlds greatest mathematician)

  • I sleep for 8 hours a day,
  • eat for about one hour a day, prep and clean up food dishes included in the hour.
  • Personal hygiene is about an hour a day .
  • Then we have weekends (or days off)  about 200 days (no formula for this, basically a thumb suck)
  • Anyway this would leave me 800 days of 14hours a day = 11 200 hours
  • 11200 hours at basic pay rate of £7.10 per hour = £79 520
  • Less Tax, NI, pension and all the other stuff that’s taken off before we even get it – this would amount to around £19 000 (correct me if im wrong)
  • So netting £60 520 – less monthly rent, council tax, water, electric, gas, phone, internet, tv licence, etc…… you know, all the necessary things to live before we look at what it takes to actually make sure the body we are occupying is able to cope.  My guesstimate for these costs over 1000 days is £35000.
  • This leaves around £25520 – putting aside 15520 for clothing, food, furnishings, make up and other incidentials would leave £10000.
  • This leave about £10 a day – not really much in the bigger scheme of things.  If I look at the fact that I used to smoke which cost £7 a day – this would have just about taken care of that.
  • Well now that I don’t smoke any more and should essentially have an extra £10 per day for spending or saving – why don’t I?money-teddy

So now Im over depressing myself, let me make a plan on what to blog going forward.

I have been working and have a host of stories to share so maybe thats where I will begin….

any suggestions?

Yours in time x






Not a week for the weak

Well this just has to be what one calls “one of those weeks”.
This one was probably one of the worst I’ve experienced. Not asking for sympathy but just expressing myself with the home of committing it to paper and out of what remains of my traumatised, abused, stressed, battered, beaten, bruised emotional system.
tatty tedWhere to begin.
• Oh yes, already up to the eyeballs in debt – having no cash in the bank just escalated that to a new cliché, drowning in debt. Letters from my landlord and calls from my debtors laid a fabulous baseline of what was in store.
• Between calls I received one from the dermatologist who has been working with my neurologist to try find the cause of the skin rashes all over my arms and legs. This resulted in the neurologist instructing me to put an immediate stop to my lifeline. I have to stop taking my modafinil, tablet that enable me to function as a normal human being. These stop me from experiencing between 10-20 seizures every day. So great stuff, she is going to get a drug approved to give me in replacement but I have to be off the modafinil and my skin clear before I see her again – in December. Come on! This is where I wish I were a bear and could just go into hibernation for a month or so.
• Being a bear wouldn’t work though, as we don’t have enough food to get through the week never mind a winter. I have made weird concoctions using the last of the rice and noodles – some nice tasty meals I may add but not really recipes for the Jamie Oliver show. We managed to overstay visits at family twice so they were sort of obliged to feed us, but one cant do this too often. So sitting here on Friday drinking black tea and not even a slice of toast to go with it just highlights how low the stocks in the galley are.
• Then the non smokers will be thrilled to hear I had to do the smoke free thing for the whole week. I had my last on Monday and thought I was bearing up alright under the circumstances. That is until my folks popped in yesterday, I thought I managed to look bright and cheery enough but obviously not when my mom popped back later with a bowl of fruit and a packet of cigarettes. Lovely, I was dizzy when I smoked the first three one after another. I did feel a little guilty but hell, I didn’t buy them and I didn’t ask for them.
• Then there’s the gas and electric. Already on meters so I can pay my arrears (£6.50 per week on each) – I couldn’t tumble dry in case we ran out and since the gas is too expensive that I can’t put the heating on, the washing has taken the whole week to dry, I even ironed some clothes damp last night. We have £2 electric (emergency) left and no gas.. this means no hot water and having to find somewhere to eat tonight. BRITISH GAS should hang their heads in shame though as they promised to send some vouchers at the beginning of October and Im still waiting for them.
• So I had £1.17 in the bank at the beginning of the week now I have minus £18.83 because the bank took off my household insurance. This I will pay dearly for in bank charges due to the account being in a negative balance – great hey!
• Then I woke up to finish my letters on the National debtline site to try address my financial problems and whoa is me, the internet is off. Now Im not sure if it is virgin media fault or if it is mine. I am busy changing service provider to tesco in order to save £30 per month but im not sure when the switch over is.Tattered_Teddy_Bear_by_metallixfaker
So to sum it up I woke up this morning to the light beaming in my room due to the fact that my makeshift curtain pole fell on top of me yesterday, I can’t get onto the internet, I have a pile of damp washing still needing ironed. I dare not iron lest the £2 left gets used up and im on my last cigarette. Today I have to have a cold shower, dress in some of the less damp clothing and get out to visit somewhere warm and where I can get something to eat – I will probably have umpteen seizures along the way which, needless to say, panics people.
Tomorrow I will get £45 in benefits of which £18 is already gone on the bank arrears and probably another £9 on charges for being in arrears.
I will not be putting a radio on to hear people say the benefits should be cut or that we should be out there working – I wish I could but can’t find a boss whose willing to deal with their staff having blackouts all day.
Its certainly been a trying week, but Im alive and I can walk and talk and see , hear, smell and feel so I am probably better off than millions of other people – so what do I have to moan about hey?
Roll on tomorrow….roll on next year…..i wish I could win the lottery but I can’t afford a ticket so I just hope something will come up to make the future look a little brighter and my bedroom a little darker.
Have a wonderful day!

tatty ted 1

Resolute moves for 2013

Day 4 – January


Use your brain when making decisions

Already day four of 2013 and still here I am trying to figure what changes need to be made over the next 361 days.
Did you make new year resolutions?  I’m going to but I am not going to call them resolutions. I’m going to call them small steps towards a vast horizon. A horizon tinged with hope, growth and new beginnings.
After an uneventful 2012, even the smallest positive changes are bound to make an improved difference. So the pressure is off.
Being a very depressed, unmotivated failure in my late 40s, I can honestly say that any change at present will be an improvement..
I haven’t totally decided how to focus on specific, detailed change. At this stage I am broadly addressing matters most important to me.

Some things I have decided are;

 I’m not going to look like a lithe size 6 film star. With my bone structure, a much leaner size 14 -16 will make a drastic difference. So given the fact that I have eventually, at 47 year of age, faced the fact that I am never gonna be a sexy super model, I am happy to look at a realistic  12 kg weight loss. One a month – in the right direction will be just great for me.

 I am not packing in smoking. Despite the fact that all of my children and my parents are avid anti-smokers, knowing full well how disgusting it smells and looks as well as a full awareness of the health implications and considering the high cost – I enjoy it. So without any guilt in trying, giving a half-hearted attempt at packing in, I am boldly and selfishly stating that I am a smoker and I love it. So, no, I am not going to kick the habit. At least, not this year.

 I am definitely not going to pay off my debt. My goodness, I would have to flog my log or meet my very own Rockefeller to be able to do that. So, save the very scarce chance that I win the lottery, my debts will still be debts at the end of the year. I am certainly hoping to reduce them somewhat. You know that something always comes up though that brings in more debt to replace that already settled. In 2013 I am, however, going to face my debt. I am going to address it maturely and try to do what I can to reduce it without forcing us to live like church mice.

 I am going to write more, read more, be more diligent with housework and personal grooming. I have bought a diary which I plan to use to keep important dates and information – I have a blackberry which does all that for you but I never seem to have it around when I need it or the battery is flat or it cannot connect to the app I need. A good old pen and diary will do the trick, it worked for me before, I am sure it will now.

 I am going to get a job, or two if necessary. I have to work around my disability but I have a wee plan in my head which may enable me to do this.

 I am going to do something good every day and note it. I will write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. At the end of 2013 I am going to read each note and say ‘what a great year this was’.
This, my friends is what one could call a realistic list of resolutions. Not a motivational speaker’s ideal, perhaps a little cynical and certainly not too taxing. They are, however, all measurable, relevant, realistic and do-able.

So, without further ado …………………………
Let the Magic begin……………

2012 in a capsule – its a wrap

2012 – A year I didn’t have.

My time capsule for 2012 is more than meets the eye …. looking back, this was a null year, a year to write off to grounding and acceptance of that which I have been handed.

To explain why 2012 was a write off

one has to refer to the run up to this period of mere existence

my sons at about 4 years - painted by my mom

my sons at about 4 years – painted by my mom

LIVING AND LOVINGLiving in South Africa since 1974, I overcame a drug addiction, lost a partner to the same. I had a beautiful daughter who I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have at the time. I married a man 5 years my junior – a man who was so cruel and hurtful to my daughter when we separated five years later. A man who fought me for years for custody of our twin boys and made my life a living nightmare in doing so.

When I eventually fell in love again, it was to a man separated from his wife. I was devastated when he went back to her and moreso when he committed suicide a few months later.

I then met an Irish guy, even though he was a total alcoholic, I fell totally head over heels in love with him. I spent 10 years in this volatile, bearinstraightjacketimpulse driven, relationship with a man who turned out to be a total narcissist.
During the 10 years my daughter moved out, to live with my parents and my sons moved to their dad. This alone should have been indication that there was something amiss. They still came and stayed with us for weekends and holidays so I guess I missed the signs because I still had them close and had lots of time to spend with them.
During this ten years this mans daughter revealed that her step dad was sexually abusing her. This led to a few years of courts, social workers and family upheavel while we applied for and were granted custody of her and her brother (my Irish alcoholic partner’s son).
So we had a satellite home full of teenagers going through the normal teenage stages. (the fact that I am here in sane mine to write this is amazing:) )
Being named legal guardian of his children did not help when the son went off the tracks, totally rebelled against everything and ended up leaving home to live with a guy who does drugs and has a house full of young boys. We tried to get him away from there but just made things worse.


So in between all of this there were also the disasters………, I havent mentioned them yet.
I was hijacked at gunpoint by 3 black men at my garden gate – they made off with my uninsured car, my bag, photographic equipment etc. The saving grace of this was that my children were not with me in the car.
The irish alcoholic narcissist then loaned me his car, since I did all the taxiing around for his kids. This car itself had stories linked to it – apart from lots of minor problems seeing us broken down and towed from some weird and wonderful places, there was the incident when his ex wife drove into the back of the car in peak hour traffic, at a huge intersection she proceeded to reverse and drive us into the intersection, in oncoming traffic. We reported this and from an original case of attempt to do grievious harm, it was dropped to negligent driving for which she had to pay a fine.
Soon afterward my partner drove his ford mustang into a wall, he was drunk and the cost to repair the car was just not worth it. So we counted our losses and traded the cars in for two new VW’s. I had a polo which I loved but one night when I had left my partner in the pub and took all the kids to go and get a pizza. We pulled into the parking at the pub and grill and a very drunk man leaving after being thrown out drove straight into us. It doesnt sound bad but he was driving a huge 4×4 at top speed, he wrote my car off.
I borrowed my daughters car for a year but this was also written off when she was home from Doha one weekend and went out with a friend. Getting lost in the metropolitan area upheaved with massive road works, she was crossing an intersection when a postal truck drove straight into her from the side.
So we bought a lil cheap car to replace this. Then one day on my way home, just a few streets up from home, I veered to the left when a speeding car overtook me on a bend. Emergency breaks were not quick enough to avoid me hitting a man out walking his dog. He had come from around the corner, walking in the road. I will never forget this accident, I can still see it in my minds eye – I called all the police and emergency services and within 10 minutes they had the man on a stretcher on the way to hospital. The paramedics told me he had an injury to his arm. His dog had run straight back home and his daughter had come straight out, alerted by the dogs return. She was very understanding – I couldnt begin to explain to her how awful I felt.
I was so shaken up after this accident I thought I would never drive again but my partner practically forced me to drive straight away – he made me go to fill in all the paperwork at the police station. The next afternoon I called the hospital where the man had been taken and after being passed from person to person, I was told to wait for the sister in charge. At this, my stomach sank, and the worst thing that I think has ever happened – she told me the man had died while they were operating on him. This and all the dealing with the police and insurances was just a blur.

my beautiful daughter


The next year saw us both out of jobs and both with enormous monthly medical costs. In South Africa there is no benefit system so if you are out of work you have no one to turn to. My partner had a fair amount of money saved which we lived on for just over a year before we decided to take a big step and move to another country.

After much debate and with my preferences being Australia or South America, we came to an agreement that we would move to Northern Ireland, where he came from. We decided to live far away from his parents, who really did not like me or approve of their son dating a catholic english girl with no claim to any family heirlooms or inheritence.

We stayed with his folks for about a week, during which time his dad said ‘why dont you just go back to South Africa’ but it was mumbled and only i was there and he would not repeat it when I asked him. This and the disapproval of their sons drinking habits lead to us hitting the road. We lived in B&B’s for a couple of weeks while looking for a house to rent.


a view to die for...our house in NI

a view to die for…our house in NI

Everything was as fine as it could be – we were in a strange country, his daughter was with us, my daughter was living in Doha, Qatar, working for the airlines, my sons were booked to fly over a couple of months later, when we had a house ready. His son refused to come and stayed in South Africa with his mom, much against my partners wishes. After much hunting we found a beautiful house, with a view to die for. The thing was, we each had a suitcase of clothes and all of our household goods were on the seven seas on a ship – it would take a couple of months for the consignment to arrive.
So after the exchange rate hammering the million rand we brought from South Africa, the cost of the shipping over R40 000 and the passports and tickets which cost well over R10 000, we were left with under £100 000.00 in the bank. I say we but in reality, I mean he. So we needed everything, knives forks, plates, cups you name it – everything except the kitchen sink. We needed to get beds and curtains and everything in time for my sons arriving. The B&B’s and starting up costs came to over £25000.NO HELP

When I signed on the job centre I was refused help until they established habitual residence, or something ridiculous. When I appealed this they then told us I could not get benefits as I was living with my partner who had money in the bank. I explained that his money was not my money – and in no respect was it, my personal and my children’s costs were mine and if he covered any of it, it was thrown in my face on a daily basis.


Pressurised by him nagging me to get an income (after 4 months – described above) and the lack of state assistance, I was forced to make a decision. I had to get a house of my own in order to be liable to claim any sort of benefit or stay and face the daily verbal abuse and attacks due to not being able to contribute. What choice did I have? When he saw the application forms for a council house for myself and my sons he completely lost it and demanded i move out immediately.
What followed was not pleasant, but driven by the need to get my kids away from the conflict and stressful situation I took an offer to move to england and stay with a cousin for a while until we settled.
My folks sent us R6000 – just under £500 for the ferry and to transport our personal belongings (about 10 boxes and a set of drums).


We arrived in Scotland at the ferry office where there was no further transport to Newcastle. Not like it read in the ads. Luckily my cousin drove up to fetch us. We lived at his house for a month while I sort out state benefits, a loan, a house to rent and some furniture.

In June 2011 we moved in. A strange country, all alone with my sons, no job, an disabling health disorder which had flared up due to all the stress. I even had to take out an additional loan to buy some warm clothes for winter. If I look back, it was certainly not a walk in the park. Every single thing I asked for or applied for had red tape tied around it to a point of where i was feeling pretty strangulated by it all.


A saving grace was when my folks came to visit in September – they helped me with money and to sort of normalise things. My daughter moved here from London in September too which was lovely. I loved having her home, nearby. This was not to be though, she was not happy here and ended up leaving in November to move to Dubai, a base for her job iHave a break, grab a cuppa and a sit down.n another airline.

Then in February my folks sold up in South Africa and moved back to England too. Their grandchildren are all here. They stayed with us for a couple of weeks while they found a place to rent. The thing is, they also had problems and often voiced their doubts about having moved here. I think they would still go back to South Africa if they hadnt sold their house there. Well I felt pretty responsible for their move and the fact that I am not happy living here, I really dont like the place, really makes this all worse.


So I have a rapidly flagging state of health, a financial status that is only good for loan sharks and credit bureaus, employment in the current situation does not look very positive, my emotional state is fairly precarious. I have no interest in life, in myself or in the future. I have lived 2012 day by day and the fact that I am here to retrospect is pretty amazing. I must be stronger than I give myself credit for.


This is my script for my time capsule. I roll it up and place it in the bottle, while I vow to store it away once it is capped. I am going to put a sticker on the capsule ‘DO NOT OPEN IN ANY EVENT’ When this is done and it is stored away I vow to look forward. Make the best of a bad situation. Take control. I want to put this all away and somewhere deep inside find myself and my love of life….i have to capsule this to move on………………..this is it, my time capsule for the most eventful yet the most non eventful time of my life.






In response to Daily Prompt: Time Capsule

Daily Prompt: Time Capsule.

A letter to someone I don’t even know

Challenged to write a letter to someone gone, my first thought was to write to my daughters father. I like to be different and to look for different angles on things so when I noticed other bloggers had already covered things I would have written to him about, I took some time to consider who else was gone who I would like to have spoken to now. Then it came to me.  I decided to write to someone who left this world in 1950 ……    

Dear Mary Longhurst (nee McVelia) Whatever you call yourself, you will know who you are and perhaps even, who I am.  In case you don’t, let me give you a quick background on why I am writing this letter to you. A number of years ago I decided to document my family history, not necessarily a tree, but stories, events, celebrations and tragedies.  You know, the type of things that happen in familys that may clarify matters to future generations. When I was giving my father his spanish inquisition he mentioned that his mother had a family member who was one of the 55 people hung at Durham Prison during the 20th century, something scandalous for me to investigate.  All he could really tell me though was that a man named George Brown was hung for murdering a prostitute who he had been in a relationship with.  Although he was vague on the actual facts of the case, he distinctly remembers the day that my gran (his mother) and his sister went to court and how my gran cried after the sentencing. You know who I am talking about but at th at time I didn’t and didn’t really think too much more of it.  Then this year, in a year of recluse, I got all of the files out again and started to read through them.  When I searched for my Great Grandmo ther in the National Census documents I came across the record of her family, specifically with reference to her brother, George Brown.  Remembering the story my dad had told me, I looked it up again but the dates didn’t correspond then when I looked further, George Brown had a son named George Finlay Brown –  this is the person I was looking for. Researching George Finlay Brown was not too difficult as there are many newspaper articles written about his hanging and the ‘facts’ of this case – the case of your murder. I would have just accepted that we had a murderer in the family had I not come across a forum where one of your family members was trying to find out what had happened to you. In the forum a genealogist briefly provided the circumstances of your death.  Your family member was not happy that this was actually you though as news l married to a member of his (the forum writers) family.papers stated that you were living with George, that he was your boyfriend.  He didn’t understand it, and you know why don’t you, because you were married. So this sparked my interest – lies and deceipt are a pet hate of mine, I like to uncover the truth.   After trawling the internet and traipsing to all the local libraries, I ended up buying the book which gives the story of your death.  ‘Murderous Tyneside” gives well documented accounts of about 23 people who were executed by hanging at Durham prison. Nine whole pages – a whole chapter of this book is dedicated to the events surrounding your death.  Here is the exerpt  from the book that you can read:


BENJAMIN Valentine Hedley lived in one of the rooms on the ground floor of 26 King Street, North Shields. The entire house was divided up into six or seven single-roomed bedsits and over the time he had lived there with his wife, Elizabeth, Benjamin Hedley had seen many tenants come and go.    It was on January 17th, 1950, that someone new moved into the room directly above the Hedleys, who came to know the new occupants as 23-year-old Mary Victoria Longhurst and her four-year-old daughter, Patricia.    In fact, Mary Longhurst did not live alone with her daughter for very long. In fairly quick succession, two men came to stay with her but each of them remained there for only a few days. In February, however, a third man arrived. This was George Finlay Brown and he stayed there for weeks rather than days. Even this relationship did not last too long, however, and during the first week in March, Brown, too, moved out of Mary Longhurst’s flat.    Brown had not wanted the relationship to end but Mary had moved on and was now seeing another man, Frank Dougal Boucher. Brown, though, was not one to allow another man to usurp him and so he began to pester Mary to return to him until finally, at 12.10pm on Friday, March 10th, she walked into the Central police station where she told policewoman Mabel Ashley that she wished to make a complaint about the way Brown was behaving towards her.    It was this complaint which led Constable Gordon Cowie to call at Brown’s lodgings, in his mother’s house at 52 Princes Street, at 3.30pm that same day. Constable Cowie told Brown that Mary Longhurst had claimed that he had been following her aroun

d, accosting her in the street and generally making a nuisance of himself. He warned Brown that if this behaviour continued, Mary could take out a summons against him and he would probably be bound over to keep the peace. Brown replied that he understood and was sorry if he had caused any trouble. Cowie ended by saying that it might be better if Brown stayed away from Mary altogether, and Brown had said that in future he would. There, for the time being, the matter was allowed to rest.    At 9.30pm that same evening, Benjamin Hedley left 26 King Street. His wife had earlier gone to visit a friend who lived in Norfolk Street, and Hedley had arranged to call for her. By the time they got back to their flat, it was about 9.45pm. The hallways and stairs in number 26 were not carpeted and so footsteps and conversations could easily be heard, especially since Benjamin was also in the habit of leaving his window open to let in some fresh air. It was not unusual then that, when at 10.00pm, someone came into the house, Benjamin was not only able to hear them, but could also distinguish that there were two people and both were women. The women went up into Mary’s room where they stayed until 10.30pm. Benjamin also caught snatches of conversation and this confirmed that one of the people he had heard was Mary, the other he presumed was a friend of hers.    Some 20 minutes after Mary and her friend had left, the front door opened again and Benjamin heard heavy footsteps moving rapidly up the stairs. The door to Mary’s room opened and the Hedleys heard those same heavy steps walking across their ceiling, Mary’s floor. Not only that, 

but it seemed to be a tread that Benjamin recognised.    It was 10.55pm, only five minutes after the last visitor arrived, when Benjamin heard lighter steps going up the bare boards of the stairway. These steps stopped outside Mary’s room, the door opened and Benjamin heard Mary’s voice cry, “Oh!” This was followed immediately by a man’s voice shouting, “Come here, I want to see you.” The voice was one Benjamin knew well and confirmed what he had already suspected. Mary’s visitor was none other than George Brown.    The visit was most certainly unwelcome for now Mary shouted, “There’s the door. Get out of here and leave me alone.” A loud conversation followed during which Mary said that she had been to see a Mr Ridley at the NationalAssistance Board and he had told her that her money would be stopped if Brown lived there again. Brown said that he did not believe her, whereupon Mary challenged him to go with her to see Ridley the next morning and discover the truth for himself. The argument increased in volume until Brown was heard to shout, “No, I’d rather swing for you.” This was followed by a cry of, “Don’t George,” and then came the sounds of a scuffle, with furniture being thrown about and Mary screaming, “Murder! Will somebody come here?” Finally, the unmistakable sound of an hysterical Patricia crying, “Leave my Mammy alone.” filtered down through the rest of the cacophony.    Benjamin Hedley had heard enough. It was time to call the police. As he pulled on his coat, all went quiet upstairs but this was perhaps even more ominous after what had just passed. By midnight, Hedley was telling his story at the police station and by 12.06am he and Constable John William Dowey Atkinson were heading back to King Street. Hedley returned to his own room to ensure that his wife was alright, while Constable Atkinson went upstairs and knocked on the door of Mary’s room. All was still quiet and no one answered. This, of course, was long before the days of police officers having their own radios and Atkinson, realising that he might need assistance to get into the room, had no alternative but to telephone his station from the nearest public call box. Calling briefly on the Hedleys to tell them what he was doing, Constable Atkinson walked to the box at the corner of King Street and Tynemouth Road. Meanwhile, only a minute or so after the police officer had left, someone had opened the door of Mary’s room. Heavy footsteps now ran down the stairs and out into the street. Hedley ventured out of his room at this point but by the time he reached the front door, there was no one to be seen in the street.    It was 12.12am on March 11th when Detective Constable Thomas Edward Baikie received the report from Constable Atkinson. Baikie went by car to the scene of the disturbance and within minutes, he and Atkinson were back outside the door to Mary’s room. “Is there anyone in the

re?” shouted Baikie. A child’s voice shouted something, although neither policeman could distinguish exactly what was said. It was enough, however, to confirm that someone inside the room might need assistance so Baikie shoulder-charged the door and smashed it open. The room was in total darkness but Baikie soon found the light switch and snapped it on.    Little Patricia Longhurst was hiding underneath the bedclothes. At the other end of the bed lay her mother. Mary’s legs were apart, her knickers around the ankle of one foot. She had her head pressed close against the wooden board which formed the bottom of the bed and when the police officers took a closer look they could see that string had been tied tightly around her throat and had then been used to tie her to the bed board. Though medical assistance was summoned, Mary Longhurst was quite obviously dead.    Constable Baikie also contacted his superior, Detective Inspector Anthony Graham, who was at home at the time. He was soon on the scene and having made a quick examination of the damaged furniture, the rucked back carpets and the smashed ornaments in the room, and having spoken to the Hedleys, Inspector Graham took Constable Baikie with him to call on George Finlay Brown.    It was 1.05am when Brown’s mother opened the door to the two plain clothes officers. Inspector Graham told Brown that they were investigating the death of Mary Longhurst, and wished to interview him at the station. Brown, who had been asleep in bed, alongside his brother Norman, when the police arrived, made no objection.    Brown said that he was more than happy to make a statement and was now given paper so that he could write it out himself. He wrote, “At 6.10pm, I left home and went to the Hope Inn, and stayed there till 7.45pm and left with a mate named Bob Elrick. From here we went to the Alnwick Castle. Left here 9.05pm, then to the Uncle Tom’s. Came out 9.20pm and back to the Hope Inn. Bob left me at 9.45pm. At closing time I went along the street. I saw James Mason. Left him at 10.25pm to go and talk to a girl I knew, Mary. Then we went to the New Quay. I left about 11.10pm came back up the street. Left Boro corner about 11.25pm and came along home which I reckon took ten minutes so that’s all I know till the police came for me in the morning.”  

  At 7.30am that same morning, while Brown was writing his statement, Inspector Graham noticed a light coloured thread on Brown’s trousers, close to the right turn-up. Graham took this, sealed it in an evidence envelope and gave it to Detective Sergeant William Darling. He, in turn, would forward it to Dr Lewis Charles Nickolls at the Forensic Science Laboratory at Wakefield. Meanwhile, at 11.20am, Brown was charged with the murder of Mary Longhurst. He made no reply.    The trial of George Brown opened at Newcastle on May 30th, 1950, before Mr Justice Morris, the prosecution case being led by Mr E.G. Robey, who was assisted by Mr F.B.H. Hylton-Foster, while Brown was defended by Mr H.R.B. Shepherd. The proceedings lasted for two days.    Frank Boucher, who lived at 51 Church Street, North Shields, testified that he had known Mary all his life, although they had been keeping company together for only about a week before her death. On March 3rd, she had called at his house for a cup of tea, leaving Brown, who was still living with her at the time, to take care of Patricia. She had been there for no more than 15 minutes when Brown had appeared and asked Mary if she would return home as the child was crying. Mary returned but told Boucher she would see him the next day.    The next incident of significance took place on March 6th. Boucher was standing at the corner of Camden Street with Mary and two friends of theirs, Dorothy Waugh and Eddie Saunders. They all started walking towards West End together when they noticed Brown on the other side of the street but walking in the opposite direction. Brown crossed the street, grabbed Mary by the arm and pulled her back, saying that he wanted a word with her. The other three had walked on a few steps and although Boucher did not hear the entire conversation between Brown and Mary, he did hear Brown say that he would ‘get her’ if she was seen with anyone else. By then, of course, Mary had thrown Brown out of 26 King Street, and he was now living at his mother’s house.    Elizabeth Evelyn Crammen had been to the Plaza Dance Hall on the night of March 9th, leaving there at about 11.00pm. On her way home, she walked along King Street, by which time it was close to 11.15pm. She knew Mary by her maiden name of Mary McVelia, and had seen her talking to Brown in King Street. Elizabeth said, “Goodnight” but Mary did not reply. At the time she seemed to be rather heavily involved in a fairly heated argument with Brown.   

Although Mary and Brown had split up, it seems that Brown did spend that night of March 9th in her room. Benjamin Hedley had heard them returning and also the sounds of raised voices. At one stage Brown had shouted something about Mary seeing a man named Dougal. This  was the name by which most people knew Frank Boucher. The argument had continued until 1.00am and the following morning, Hedley had heard Mary and Brown coming downstairs.    Benjamin Hedley and his wife, Elizabeth, also gave evidence of having picked out Brown at an identification parade at the police station on March 11th. The defence objected strongly to this, saying that such evidence was of no value whatsoever since both the Hedleys were identifying a man they knew well. After all, Brown had lived above them for some six weeks.  

  Margaret Jean Ritchie lived at 5 George Street, North Shields, and she was one of Mary’s closest friends. Margaret detailed what she knew of Mary’s movements on the evening of March 10th. At 8.30pm Mary had called at Margaret’s house and after enjoying a cup of tea, they had returned to Mary’s flat at 9.15pm where they stayed together until 10.00pm. Mary had gone out for no more than ten minutes but she was soon back. They finally left together at 10.30pm, which, of course, fitted in with the evidence of Benjamin Hedley, who heard two women leaving at about that time.    When Margaret and Mary left her flat, Patricia was asleep in the bed. Mary had called in on a neighbour, Mrs Bryson, telling her that Patricia was alone in the room, left her key in the lock on the outside of the door and gone out with Margaret to find Frank Boucher.    The two women found that Boucher was not at home, so they now visited Dolly Waugh’s house in Limehill Street, where more tea was consumed. They stayed there until 11.10pm when Mary and Margaret again called on Boucher to find that he was still out. Mary saw Margaret to her house at George Street, said her goodnights and returned home. These later times did not quite agree with what Benjamin Hedley had said but the prosecution were claiming that in the intervening period, Brown had arrived at Mary’s room, found the key in the lock, let himself in and waited for Mary to return.    Florence May Okhegwai had spent the night of March 10th with her friend, Marion Bruce, in a public house in Saville Street West, where they stayed until closing time at 10.00pm. As they were standing outside the pub, a man passed and looked intently at her. Later, as Florence walked home down Borough Bank, this same man, who she subsequently identified as Brown, approached her and asked her for sex. She refused, but this at least indicated what was on Brown’s mind. Florence put the time of this last encounter somewhere between 10.30pm and 10.45pm.    A pathologist, George Edward Stephenson, testified that Mary Longhurst had been a healthy woman, 5ft 13⁄4ins in height and weighing 8st 7lbs. The cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation by a double ligature around the neck. He also produced photographs showing that when the ligature had been cut off, a deep track remained around Mary’s throat so considerable force had been used to hold her down and tie the knots.    Dr Nickolls of the Forensic Science Laboratory gave evidence that the fibre sent to him by Sergeant Darling and found on Brown’s trousers matched the fibres of the quilt in the murder room. Dr Nickolls had also examined the clothing Brown had been wearing at the time of his arrest. On the right leg of the trousers, he found another fibre which was dyed a yellowish-green, the same colour as the tablecloth found in Mary’s room. Finally, he had found a small tuft of fibres which again were similar threads to the quilt.    The only witness for the defence was Brown himself. He claimed that after leaving the Hope Inn at closing time and talking to James Mason he had then met a girl named Mary who said she came from Coventry. He denied seeing Mary Longhurst at any time on the night she died and said that he had not mentioned this other Mary before because he attached no special consequence to it.    The police, of course, had tried to trace this mysterious Mary, but she had never come forward. The prosecution claimed that there was a very simple reason for this: the other Mary did not exist and the evidence of the witnesses, the fibres found on Brown which linked him directly to the murder scene and the history of his relationship with Mary, meant that he was the man who had been in her room on that fateful night.    The jury were out considering their verdict for just over half an hour. Having adjudged Brown guilty they saw Mr Justice Morris don the black cap and tell him, “You have been convicted of a dreadful crime for which the law knows only one penalty.” He then sentenced Brown to death, the prisoner hearing those dread words without showing any emotion. At the back of the public gallery, though, Brown’s mother started to sob loudly and had to be assisted out of the court. A woman juror was also seen to be in tears.    Brown’s appeal was heard in June, and dismissed. On July 10th, the Home Secretary announced that a 21-year-old labourer, Francis McClean, who had been sentenced to hang at the Old Bailey for the murder of his landlady, was to be reprieved. On that same day, though, he announced that the sentence on Brown would stand.    The next morning, Tuesday, July 11th, 1950, George Finlay Brown was hanged at Durham jail. He was still only 23 years old.

Eddleston, John J (2011-01-20). Murderous Tyneside (Kindle Locations 2837-2843). JMD Media Ltd. Kindle Edition.


So George was hung but there were too many unanswered questions in the story. What baffles me is:

Your landlord testifying that he heard Georges footsteps on the stairway was used as incriminating evidence.  How did the landlord know for sure that they were actually Georges footsteps?

How could he be sure that someone else hadnt been there too considering he had been out .  He even went out to call the police after he heard you and George argue.

How can it be sure that someone hadn’t arrived during this time?  The landlord did not check on you, didnt even know if you were dead or alive when he had left to call the police.

The forensic evidence offered by the police is ludicrous.  Threads of fabrics in your flat found on Georges clothing in my opinion is not evidence.  He would obviously have thread if he had lived with you.  Even though it was a week later, one has to bear in mind that in the 1950’s clothes were not washed every time they were worn.

I have tried to find the people who testified in the court case about your death but some of the women do not even have names of British origin.  Two of them lived in none residential accommodation.

Apart from the Landlord, all of the other witnesses were women.  None of them had even witnessed George entering your flat that day.

Then there is the elusive Mr Frank Dougal Boucher –  I am trying to find out what happened to him but I did notice that he didn’t even get called to testify.  This is strange since you had spent most of the night you were killed on running backwards and forwards to his house looking for him. The fact that you were a single mother and lived near the North Shields quayside and the living arrangements mentioned in the story lead me to think of my gran calling you a prostitute.  The quayside was well known for prostitution during those years. Hearing the story and seeing the ‘evidence’ I must say that I would have suspected Frank Boucher – I would have at least called him in for questioning.  I don’t want to taint the memory of you but I also would hate to think that George was innocently hung. The fact that your daughter had to witness your murder is horrendous and she would have been too young to be able to be a witness. I wish I could know the truth but I think the truth died with you. All I can hope is that you met up again….. but if he was truly guilty you can rest knowing justice was done. Best Wishes from the 21st century   This letter was inspired by a blog challenge on Swift Expression’s site:

Words are cheap?

Some say words are cheap but when I think of the most memorable, romantic or saddest tragic stories.  The words used in these stories are what provokes one to think of the story, event or people involved.  Just a few words can make you visualise an entire scene. It is the words that are used.

  • You complete me
  • My world would not be a world without you in it
  • Romeo, where forth art thou,

to name a few,

It amazes me how words, a simple line or phrase you have heard in life can conjure up an entire scene, you can almost feel the moment.

Songs I have loved have been those with lyrics that were meaningful to me and clever lyrics,

  •  round, like a circle in a spiral or a wheel within a wheel never ending or beginning in an ever spinning reel.
  • picture yourself in a boat on  the river, tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
  • Never seen you looking as lovely as you do tonight
  • a man who will fight for your honour

all words that just hearing them make me think of people, times in life and things that have happened.  Just hearing a couple of words from a song usually gets me humming or singing all the words to the song.

No, I don’t think words are cheap.  I think our world would be much poorer without them.  Well, my life would be.


Wow, today is mine, I feel so high on life I just hope nothing pops my bubble.
Had a great day with my Avon sales. Made peace with kids. Bought a bit of food. Wrote a whole lotta emails apologising for not being able to pay my debts. I’m partnerless and I’m happy.
My daughters coming home for a week in july – I haven’t seen her in 6 months so that’s just more helium – wooooo cloud nine watch out – I think the people here think I’m in cloud coekoo land but that’s alright.
I received a postcard from my daughter the other day. She flies all over the world and writes me whole letters on postcards – she says she’s gonna be arrested for abusing the postcard system. Anyway she wrote such a lovely letter – she sounds so at peace with herself – the letter made me cry but for all the right reasons. I put it down and said out loud “thank you” to you know who. Its such a wonderful feeling to know your children are all happy and I think its about time I let my mom and dad have this feeling too. They deserve it. I love them. I love my kids and I love life – what more can you ask for?

postcard abuse :o)

postcard abuse :o)

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