This is a guest post by Nik Johnson. You can see his website here. If you'd like to submit a guest post for Enemies of Reason, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanna Yeates. A poor girl who was killed by someone unknown at the end of last year, and her body left on a dog walking path, to be discovered on Christmas Day. Pretty grim, shitty stuff, let's not beat around the bush.
If you Google her name, or the name of her landlord - Christopher Jefferies - you'll find that unfortunately, the police don't have a lot to go on. So, the tabloids don't have a lot to run with. This post shows the desperate attempts by the media to pick out any scraps of story they can - at any cost to an innocent bloke.
The Daily Mail have sent out their intrepid crime reporter Liz Jones (specialist subject: sneering at peasants) to Bristol, to see what she can uncover. In terms of tasteful reporting, this is about 1% better than asking a psychic what they think.
Of course, with no training at all in the art of digging out leads, Liz turns the article into some sort of horrendous black-comedy, only with an uncomfortably misjudged level of comedy.
It's Friday night and I’m in the Ram bar on Park Street in Bristol.
This is where Joanna Yeates spent her last evening before she set off up the hill, past all the twinkly shops and bars (a Habitat, a Space NK beauty emporium; Bristol is nothing if not upwardly mobile) towards her death.
The bar is OK but ordinary. The wine list, chalked on a board, says ‘Lauren Perrier’.
I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier. The food is awful (I ask for a veggie burger and it comes without the burger – and without the bun!) but the young women behind the bar are sweet with huge, wary eyes.
Let this sink in: I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier.
She's wisecracking about the state of her veggie burger, and hoping - LOL! - that a young woman that was fucking murdered didn't have a similar experience. Congratulations, it's fucking disgusting. Just like the veggie burger LOL!
Not content with that, the mental old duffer heads off on a pilgrimage to retrace Jo's last steps:
I leave the bar at 8pm and retrace Joanna’s steps. Even though it’s January, the streets are packed. There are a couple of women joggers but they are with boyfriends or husbands.
I walk past the beautiful university building on my right, with Waitrose on my left. I wander the bright aisles, full of young women rushing round after work, leaving with carrier bags and expectation.
I head up the hill towards Clifton, the leafy part of the city. It’s quieter now, and darker. I find Tesco, and go in. I almost buy that upmarket pizza; the choice tells me Jo wanted a lovely life, something above the ordinary.
Making judgements over her because of the type of pizza that she bought. The pizza she probably didn't eat. BECAUSE SOMEBODY KILLED HER. It's tasteless enough to roll your eyes at someone buying a Tesco Finest pizza when they're just wandering around the supermarket, but this woman is dead. It's not a wee joke, she's not a character in a soap that you can judge and giggle at. She. Is. Dead.
"full of young women rushing round after work, leaving with carrier bags and expectation"
Just fuck off.
Still, at this point, Liz goes home and everything is - oh. No, no she doesn't. She carries on.
As I near her basement flat, at No 44, the road is quiet. Earlier in the day there had been an ITN news van here but it has gone now. I’m reassured to see two policemen standing vigil at her iron gate, either side of a small, discreet pile of flowers in varying degrees of decay.
I tell them I’m spooked, walking here. ‘Don’t be spooked,’ one says. ‘Residents are campaigning to get brighter street lights installed.’ So the antique, lovely ones are to disappear to be replaced by ugly ones because of something even uglier.
Boo! Hiss! Ugly streetlights! Booo! Never mind that in the dark, y'know, someone could wander up behind you and strangle you. We want old style lights!
I’d have expected the cars to slow down here to show respect but they sped past, carrying people on their way home from work. The lane is narrow. I can’t see how a car stopped here and a man struggled with a body without being beeped at and told to get out the way, as I was. There were no messages with the flowers, just one card, still sealed in its Cellophane. The person who left it hadn’t bothered to scrawl a note.
Woman stands in middle of road and is told to move. Cars don't drive slowly past the home of a murder victim a month on. A stranger didn't mourn in the right way. BROKEN BRITAIN. BROKEN SODDING BRITAIN.
The tasteless pièce de résistance is left to the end, when poor Ms. Jones has to contend with a toll on the Clifton Suspension Bridge:
The theory is the killer took the long route from the flat to where he dumped the body to avoid the CCTV cameras. Perhaps he also wanted to avoid the 50p toll.
Speculating on the mindset of a killer for a cheap laugh. Maybe he's scared of bridges, eh Liz! How wacky would it have been if he'd been carrying a young girl's corpse along and then realised he didn't have the right change! Scrabbling around looking for a 20p! Asking a stranger if they had change for a pound, while trying to hide a bloodstain on his hand!
There is now an angry queue behind me. Isn’t it interesting that you can snatch a young woman’s life away from her in the most violent, painful, frightening way possible, take away her future children, her future Christmases, take away everything she loves, and yet there are elaborate systems in place to ensure you do not cross a bridge for only 30 pence?
In what possible way is that interesting? You're taking two completely disparate things and mentioning them in the same sentence. Isn't it interesting that you can become a Mail journalist with seemingly no qualifications or ability, and yet clowns exist.
Finally, a man in a taxi jumps out, and runs to me brandishing a 50p piece. ‘Not all men are monsters,’ he says, grinning. Maybe not. But one monster is all it takes.
Now that's a conclusion and a half, isn't it. Here's a better, and more relevant one: Wandering round the home and hangouts of a recently murdered girl, making trite and irrelevant observations make you a ghoulish cunthole.