Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meandering through the Past

I'm faffing around with some autobiographical writing, and interested parties insist that I start at the beginning. They mean, of course, my childhood. For me, though, it is as if my life began at the moment that I ended another’s.

Having to look further back than that event is a strange journey and one I have probably been avoiding for thirty years. Not that I believe my childhood to be particularly awful, it was far from it. Up until my mother’s death when I was nine, I think my life was pretty good. At the least, normal!

And yet...that early part of my life pales into insignificance, has been overshadowed by the murder. Life began, in my mind, with death. This is a strange feeling, a disconnect that I have never had to examine before.


  1. It will certainly make for an interesting read Ben. I wish you well with this. Hope you make some good progress on it. I imagine there is so much to say and from such a unique starting point and perspective.

    I look forward to reading your autobiography one day soon maybe? There you go, your first sale!

  2. Heartfelt thoughts and prayers for you as you start on that strange, no doubt painful but necessary journey.

  3. This seems a somewhat irrational view to take, and something you should make every effort to break free from. Your crime cannot be viewed in isolation. It must sit in context with the events before it. So to insist that your life began with it is to deny the reasons behind it, which must make it difficult to confront and deal with the result.

  4. tallguy,

    None-the-less sometimes we do things that are so catastrophic that they jump us from the track we were on to a new one entirely; a new track with a completely different context.

    It is interesting to us to know the factors that led to Ben's crime, in part, I suspect, because we so badly want to believe that he isn't really to blame. A bit like Brass-eye's "good" and "bad" AIDS, we want to believe Ben is a "good" murderer deserving of our sympathy.

    The truth is, however, that life is seldom so black and white. Not even the most despised serial killer commits their crimes without mitigating factors. Ben is who he is today, in large part, because of a single event that lasted, I imagine, less than half an hour. He deserves our compassion now, not because he was angry young man in care at the time but because of the man his actions show him to be today.

    I can understand why it might seem to Ben as though the boy he was died at the same time as his victim and I can understand why he might not feel that that boy's background is a relevant part of the autobiography of a man who only exists because of that one action.

    That said, it sounds as though this is an examination of his past that Ben needs to make, whether it goes into the autobiography or not. So good luck Ben - confronting this must be an incredibly difficult thing to be doing.

  5. A motherless child commits an act, and the State condemns the man, in perpetuam, for our safety.

    The same State encourages the separation of children from their biological parents, at the slightest pretext, for their safety.

    One has to wonder just how unsafe we would all be, if the State were to go run and jump off the nearest cliff?

    Or put another way: if the State were a person, what proportion of 'normal' people could it count upon as being its friend, and how many would do the humane deed of having it sectioned under mental health?

  6. Good luck Ben with this autobiographical writing - just look at as much as you can about your early past and remember to move on. Life is all ifs and buts and some people make judgements on others without any proper knowledge or understanding of what made a person into who they are. You will get it right for yourself and others will have to live with that - it is obvious to anyone that you are not the same person you were when you committed murder - and of course none of us are the same people we were when we were 15 years old!

    Thinking of you for 11th and really hope it is good for you. Keep strong.