Oh Me, Oh My

London is the place where I would like to die
It’s got St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and then the great London Eye
It ‘s not one out of many
London’s worth your every penny
Though some people are uncanny
Like the baby murdering nanny 

Oh me, oh my
London is the place where I would like to die

The Thames is full of shit but it’s a lovely sight
Just like Amen Court and South Bank by night
Old Bailey’s just and fair
She’s got a tale or two to share
Babies’ bodies everywhere
She put Amelia in good care

Oh me, oh my
London is the place where I would like to die 

Have you ever seen a place grander than life?
Better pack your bags and grab your trouble and strife
Hop on a boat
Hop on a train
Better hop on a plane

You know it takes all sorts and London has them all
Downing Street, Canary Wharf and then Royal Albert Hall
People working round the clock
Some put you into a state of shock
Amelia Dyer wants to talk.
She’ll meet you again at Dead Man’s Walk

Oh me, oh my
London is the place where I would like to die

Amen Court – The Amelia Dyer Chronicles

29-01-2014 Wednesday

22.30ImageAmen Court 

We sat there in silence for a little while. Outside you could hear the wind whistling through the trees. Tension built up as Mr Bent’s eyes darkened a little. He turned round very slowly, took a deep breath and sighed very heavily.

‘Sooner or later somebody was bound to find a body or two. A couple of fishermen were the unfortunate souls in this case. In their nets they found two very strange looking fish. They were the corpses of two babies. A police investigation lead to Amelia Dyer who was sent to New Gate Prison (that’s where the Old Baily is now). She was sentenced to death and had to stay in prison until the day of her hanging.

Between New Gate Prison and the wall at Amen Court there was a path called Dead Man’s Walk. It was named so for two reasons. First all those that were about to go air dancing had to walk across that path towards the gallows. Secondly, after you were hanged, they’d burry you underneath that path. Basically that meant you were walking on the graves of many (ex) prisoners and in fact also on your own grave. Dead Man’s Walk was aptly named.

On the day of her hanging Amelia Dyer walked amongst other prisoners towards her own death on Dead Man’s Walk. As she was walking she noticed a young warden along the path. A handsome boy indeed, so she looked him straight into the eyes and Scott – as was his name – looked back into hers. She came nearer and nearer and the kept staring each other in the eyes. When she was about to pass him she stared even deeper into his lovely eyes and whispered,’ I’ll meet you again someday, sir.’ As you can understand that was a very strange thing to say for a woman who about to make a long drop and a short stop.

Scott was a bit startled but had soon forgotten about it and continued working at New Gate Prison. After a couple of years he had completely forgotten all about it and was sitting in the staff room eating his food. As he was minding his own business he heard a voice calling. He had heard the voice before. Scott ran to the window and there she was, looking him into his eyes the same way she had done years before, saying those exact same words,’ I’ll meet you again some day, sir.’

Scott couldn’t believe his eyes. He ran outside to the place where she was, but she was gone. Vanished into thin air. She did leave him a little farewell present. Her handkerchief lay on the ground at the place she had stood. Scott picked it up and as I far as I know he kept his entire life, but never saw her again. And that, young Arthur, was the story of the Amelia Dyer – the baby farm murderer.’

I was completely frozen. The silence that fell cannot be described on a piece of paper. As if the temperature in the room had suddenly dropped below zero, my whole body felt numb. I just sat there and stared at Mr Bent in complete awe. Even stumbling words seemed impossible. Mr Bent stood up very slowly and walked into the kitchen to put away the cups. I just sat there staring, blinking, thinking.

See me tomorrow.  

The Baby Farm Murderer

28-01-2014 Tuesday

22.30

‘I hope you know what baby farms are,’ Mr Bent Continued,’ because I am going to talk about one. A baby farm is not a farm where you can pet babies and look at them from behind a fence. Baby farms were places where they’d put unwanted babies. Some of these babies came from wealthy women who, for instance, were not married and would be a disgrace to the family if anybody were to find out about the kid. Other babies would come from prostitutes. Having a baby is not a very good selling point, is it? So these women would put their dumplings into the hands of a baby farm.

Babies were left there for good; parents would never have to come and visit the kids. They’d pay the baby farm a large amount of money – some would pay monthly or yearly instalments, others would pay everything at once – and the lady at the baby farm would take care of the kids. This way no one was to find out about the unwanted babies and you could live the rest of your life as if you had never given birth.

Amelia Dyer had her own baby farm. She also had a problem. Amelia really loved money … a lot. She loved money more than anything. That, as you will understand, is not the problem; there’s nothing wrong with loving money. However, she hated … no … she loathed babies. From their tiny little feet to their disproportionally large heads, she hated every inch of them. But, she loved the money. Money … babies … money … babies.

As you can see, she had a problem. There she was with all that money, but also all those kids. What to do? She did what every baby-hating-but-money-loving woman would do in the 19th century: kill the babies. That’s what she did. She would choke the babies and dump their tiny little bodies in the river Thames. Problem solved.’

This is where I had to swallow. I got a bit of a lump in my throat. Who would do such a thing? What kind of woman would do that? Is money really that important? I couldn’t really grasp it. Mr Bent stared out of the window a little bit as he drank his tea and waited for the right moment to continue. Which in my case will be tomorrow, as I need to get some sleep. See me tomorrow. 

Amelia Dyer – the beginning

20140127_23113327-01-2014 Monday

22.30

So, as I was saying, I was making tea for us and Mr Bent came into the kitchen with his dowsing rod in his hands. He looked at the rods and played with them a little. Trying to hold them in different ways to make different geometrical shapes. While he was fidgeting with those darn things he said, in his thoughtful deep dark voice,’ You know, I’ve actually never quite understood these things.’ That’s when he threw them out of the window.

We stared at each other for a couple of seconds and then burst out in laughter. You should have seen the look on his face. He was dead serious when he said it and just chucked them out like that. I hope nobody was walking by at that very moment. He said he had something better for me. Well, actually, two things. Another story, and, what was even better, a book! The book he had been looking for wasn’t for him; it was for me. I made a picture of it to show you. It has got all kinds of freaky ghost stories about London. Sometimes I wish school made us read these kinds of books, they are way more interesting than things like ‘Gone with the wind’ or ‘Jane Eyre’

When tea was ready we sat ourselves down in sitting room, somewhere amidst all those books. Mr Bent said it was ok to just make a chair out of books if I wanted to. I thought it would a bit disrespectful, so I just threw some books on the floor and sat down on the sofa (I know, bad idea) while Mr Bent settled himself on one of the few … no, rephrase … the only free chair in the room. Which, as you can understand, wasn’t free anymore now.

He asked me if I had ever heard of a woman called Amelia Dyer. The name didn’t really ring a bell. Even after thinking really hard with my little thinker I couldn’t think of anyone who goes by that name. Even though I kept thinking Mr Bent was already saying it was useless to go on thinking. Amelia Dyer has been dead for a long time now; for over a century already. The world might be better off without her, too. She was not the nicest of woman.

‘For this story,’ as he added a little more bass to his voice,’ I have to take you back to the late 19th century. It were different times then, what with Jack the Ripper about, stirring up life in London. Great many killings were going on at that time and not all of them were done by dear ol’ Jacky.’

A loud noise of things falling filled the room.  It made an awful racket. We looked round us to see if we could see what had happened. A bunch of books fell down from one of the shelves and on their way down they had knocked over a quite inexpensive vase that shattered into pieces as it hit a very thick book. Mr Bent couldn’t be bothered. He took of sip of his tea, which was still piping hot, and swallowed it as if his throat was made of lead. Maybe that comes with old age, I dunno.

I will have to continue my story tomorrow. I can assure that it is going to be amazing. Though it’s a bit sad too. My bed is calling me and I can hear it calling me over the song I’ve been hearing in my head all day. Does everybody have that? A song that just gets stuck in your head for days and you can’t help but humming it or singing it in your head. The most frustrating thing is that I keep on repeating one bit of the song because I forgot the lyrics to the rest of it. All day long I’ve been walking around singing the same two lines, then I pause for a bit – there are more lines but I just don’t know the words – and finish with the last line of the verse and head into the first line of the chorus ending in a lalala, because I just don’t know the rest of the bleeding song anymore. I hope I am the only who has this, I wouldn’t want anybody else to suffer like this. See me tomorrow.