Journalists talk of stories. Sometimes the term seems horribly inappropriate. But that’s what we do, by and large, tell stories for others to read. ‘Report’ really doesn’t cover it. Not for the stories that matter. You have to observe, sense, feel, and very often empathise.
Our stories don’t always have happy endings. Often they don’t have happy beginnings. Kids get caught in circumstances beyond their control. And we, the so-called reporters, get caught up with them more often than you may ever imagine – taking those stories to our own graves, carrying them with us for all time.
As I write I can see in my own mind’s eye two girls. Correction, two pictures of two girls. One smiling, the other – described by her sister as ‘bonny and outgoing ‘– looking quiet and withdrawn. Moments captured in time. And now frozen in that time.
Both are startlingly pretty. Both are dead. One presumed so. One definitely so. Their families know it, the police know it, and we know it. Their bodies have ‘just’ yet to be found. I apologise for the term ‘just’ for there is nothing ‘just’ about their continual absence – and the presence that still carries. It must add further anguish to the heartbreak of the families concerned.
One parent – the mum of Charlene Downes – talks of the need for ‘closure’. It’s a term she would have never used years ago.
I suspect until you have lived with the reality of loved one lost, missing for so long, carrying the hope of them being alive but fearing the worst with each day, let alone year, that passes – you don’t know what ‘closure’ means.
Two girls, Charlene Downes, Paige Chivers, much the same age, and both once living in the same town with its darker side now well and truly exposed. Paige now proven to have been murdered, Charlene more than likely to have been so – Charlene’s family and friends are still waiting for an approximation of what passes for justice these days.
I hope – for it’s a long time since I prayed – that one day the final moments of Charlene are established beyond doubt.
When you have walked in the ‘shoes’ of a missing feared murdered girl it changes you.
You can never pass those places again and see them with the same eyes. This is where she stood, sat, smiled, chatted, on the fringe of society but observed by others until – what?
You are haunted by the fact that the final moment of truth – that child’s death – doesn’t just elude you, but her family and all who strive to bring killers, predators, exploiters, to justice.
Police say they have now established beyond doubt that Paige Chivers, 15, was murdered in 2007. By Robert Ewing, now 60. I hope it rests there. I hope we don’t have to clap eyes on the smirking mug shot of her convicted killer in the years to come.
I hope he serves all 33 years of that sentence – because at 93 I’d prefer to think he wouldn’t be the menace to society he was in 1995 when he served 12 months for an act of gross indecency on a 13-year-old girl, whom he also indecently assaulted.
Or the killer he became in 2007 when Paige crossed his path. It’s time this despicable excuse for a human being did the decent thing – and revealed where Paige is. I doubt he knows what ‘decent’ means.
Business backing our local talent
I’m off to see Rae Morris on Sunday. Can’t wait. For all the bigger name stars playing Lytham Festival Rae is our local girl made good, a truly exceptional talent tipped for global stardom after being supported by the Gazette and winning air time on BBC Lancashire.
But it’s the Danbro Rock Band I’m most looking forward to hearing. Never heard of them? You will. I’ve been watching them rehearse with Ian Hooper’s GB Music Events – 30 or so singing directors, accountants, business advisors, financial services and marketing staff and more. In perfect harmony – even the boss. Danbro’s not just sponsoring the festival, but taking to the stage with Tenors of Rock on Monday and Last Night of the Proms, the traditional finale. It doesn’t hurt to have some umbrella accountants around if the skies turn grey.
And while much has been made, and rightly so, of the big stars heading our way, there wouldn’t be a festival without sponsorship – so take a bow Redrow, Freeport, Lloyd Blackpool and Danbro for helping turn Cuffe and Taylor’s dream into a weeklong reality. Whatever the weather, it will be a ‘Rae’ of sunshine indeed.