It’s said and we fully agree that there’s nothing worse than a parent losing a child.
It’s so horrific that no language without exception has an adjective for it. A person who loses a parent is an orphan and one who loses a husband or wife is a widower or a widow.
He who loses a child has no word to give comfort of meaning, a word that at least would attempt to define what is indefinable, incomprehensible and absurdly unjust, a word to heed others of their pain and plight.
Nothing can be worse than this nothing-worse.
The McCanns have suffered a nothing-worse, they have lost a child.
Yet they and others have extraordinarily been able to make this nothing-worse even worse. That, by all standards, is an outstanding feat. A disgusting and a pitiful one but phenomenal.
And all including them making this nothing-worse even worse with the McCanns smiling and grinning.
We’re specifically talking about negligence, one of the two major clutters the Maddie case has, the other being paedophilia.
About paedophilia no one has very little doubt as to when and by who this clutter – even if we believe it genuine – was planted: Yvonne Martin in her statement of June 12.
She had, supposedly, sent an anonymous letter earlier but in terms of contact that the case has with paedophilia is when the British senior social worker resident in Sargaçal first gives a statement to the PJ.
After Yvonne Martin, came the Gaspars and then the empty CATS file.
Again, supposedly the Gaspars spoke in May but in terms of process their statements are only known by the PJ in October.
The paedophilia narrative in the Maddie case is quite simple and easy to follow.
Three seeds were planted and they became a forest because so much was and is the water poured on them by many a good people blinded by the want to repair somehow the viciousness that this sort of crime involves whenever it is, unfortunately, real.
The paedophilia narrative has a very clear target, David Payne.
He had lost nothing. He lost no child.
Some of us are of the opinion that something occurred between him and Kate McCann which led to the accidental death of Maddie. Whatever happened did not involve paedophile activity by anyone, either before or on the day of her death.
In our opinion, his direct involvement in the events surrounding Maddie’s death earns him being branded with the stigma.
That being true then one can even justify this branding as a sentence given by some obscure parallel justice system that overrode the legitimate one for a various number of reasons.
But the negligence narrative, unlike the paedophilia one, is not as clear.
Narrative meaning is “created by establishing that something is part of the whole and usually that something is the cause of something else…. Groups, communities, societies and cultures also preserve collections of typical narrative meanings in their myths, fairy tales, legends, histories and stories… Stories fill our lives in the way water fills the lives of fish. Stories are so all-pervasive that we practically cease to be aware of them… we develop storied accounts that give sense to the behaviour of others…” (Steve Denning)
In the McCann story, the Narrative of Neglect (NoN) has become an all-pervasive myth. Ask any person with the most limited knowledge of the case and their response is likely to be something along the lines of “Those doctors who left their children alone whilst they went out for the evening.” Or with the addition of “when they went out drinking”.
With myths and fairy stories, it’s often impossible to establish their origins. Other times its origins become a myth themselves lost in the web of ideas and perceptions with which we form ideas about a subject.
With the NoN we all think it was us, each one of us, who came up with it.
We all think that before what was an obvious situation of negligence we came to the conclusion that there had been neglect.
Maybe if we had been given time to absorb the details of the story we would have come with it but truth is we didn’t. Others spoon-fed it to us.
Negligence, like Smithman did with the Smiths came to us and like he did with them, it forced itself on us.
Like with the Smithman who could have been seen without making any close contact with that family but decided not to run that risk and so forced that contact, so those responsible for spreading the NoN did the exact same.
They didn’t let us wait and discover for ourselves. They took no chances on that. They made NoN walk our way and go against us like the clumsiest of pedestrians on a sidewalk.
They made sure we noticed it.
The NoN has a dated source, noted by the author of “The Cracked Mirror”, written in 2009.
Chapter 12 “ May 4- The Performance of a Lifetime”
“… nothing that followed was as astonishing as the achievements of Gerry McCann on May 4, before news management began to feature in “the narrative.”
Incredibly, at the time that Kate McCann was giving her statement to the police that afternoon, as well as being reminded of the secrecy rules, the media were already carrying the full unsupported and inaccurate McCann version in detail…… the unprompted denial, even at this ridiculously early stage, that the parents had been in any way neglectful or at fault ….. it was all done using the clan and “friends.”
By the time the police car carrying the pair pulled into Portimao police headquarters that morning, Sky had been well briefed with the parents’ story. And so had GMTV. So had BBC1 news. So had BBC2 Newsnight. So had all the important UK dailies.”
The author describes perfectly the launch of a myth, the NoN. He even tells us who launched it.
“Madeleine’s uncle Michael Wright” (he was actually Kate’s cousin by marriage to her cousin Anne Marie)
“The evidence clearly shows that Gerry McCann, far from passing on to his circle only chaotic first impressions or mistaken interpretations of what had happened immediately after the disappearance, quite clearly hammered home certain key information for many hours after the disappearance which he intended them to pass on to the media. Madeleine’s uncle, Michael Wright, made this quite clear on the same day …”
The author then refers to an article by The Standard:
“This laziness - or misdirection - with the facts of the disappearance of the child was in stubborn contrast to the way the much less important matter of the parents’ activities was reported”.
The McCanns, said the story “were eating at a Tapas restaurant in the Mark Warner Ocean Club complex but had been checking on their children every 30 minutes. The restaurant is within sight of their apartment.” No vagueness there, no possible “misunderstandings” by relatives of “early panicky comments” by Gerry. Dead on.
… And then the Standard had this:
“Michael Healy [this was Michael Wright], the missing girl’s uncle, added: “There has been some negative spin put on this, with people criticising them for leaving the kids and going on the tear.” Mr Healy added, “But it’s nonsense, they were close by and were eating within sight of where the children were and checking on them. Other members of the group were checking on her as well. No one was rip roaring drunk. ””
The author then poses a most telling question about this “on the tear story” (the idiomatic expression being Irish/ Liverpool, meaning to go out on a drinking spree, tear rhyming with hair):““Negative spin” and “criticism.” How could there be any spin or criticism of the parents by Friday afternoon when these were the very people telling the world for the first time what had happened the previous night for the first time and when the pair hadn’t given their statements to the police?”
Apart from the author writing this was a pre-emptive defence of their conduct and child supervision, he draws no further inferences.
He may object to the inference we draw from Wright’s statement – that the NoN was an essential myth, without which an abduction was IMPOSSIBLE. That’s why, contrary to the author’s view, we have the strongest opinion it wasn’t a less important matter than the details of the disappearance.
The NoN has successfully established itself in the consciousness of the majority of those who have taken any interest in this story.
It has led to numerous heated debates on the distance between the Tapas bar and the restaurant, calls for the McCanns to be prosecuted for neglect, arguments about the frequency of the checks on the children, questions as to why Matt Oldfield didn’t actually enter the room when he made his fabled check at 9.30….
And how often were the checks made on May 3?
Transcript of TV interview with Sandra Felgueiras and the McCanns (video above from HideHo) and full video here from Xklamation).
“SF - ...[how] he could have had the opportunity to get into the apartment if you were checking the apartment every 15 minutes?
Gerry - [reacts by raising his hand towards SF] Huh... How often did you say we were checking?
SF - 15 minutes...
Gerry - That’s not what we’ve said...
SF - No?
Gerry - ...it’s been widely reported it was about 30 minutes. Now, that’s what our checks were.”
Why did Gerry react so indignantly when asked by an interviewer about checks every 15 minutes, correcting her immediately to confirm the checks were actually every 30 minutes? Because, as we have suggested, no prospective abductor observing 15 minute intervals between checks is likely to continue with his plan.
The NoN has three main ingredients:
- The parents were not present when Maddie was taken;
- The checks of 30 minutes were the minimum needed for an abductor to act;
- The T9 thought they were acting responsibly because of their proximity to the Tapas and their checking system.
And the BIG ROUND TABLE? A mistake. Had they said the rectangular tables were put together to make room for them all, we would have been none-the-wiser about the Tapas dining myth.
Given their description of all of them, including children – 17 in total (we presume with some in high chairs next to the table), gathered around a table for the Millenium breakfast, is it possible this is what lodged in their consciousness when describing the BRT?
For a myth to take hold of the imagination, it needs the sustenance of repetition. After Wright’s statement to the press, we have this:
On May 16 2007, GNR officer Paulo Carvalhosa da Costa (Carvalhosa misspelled as Carvaihosa in the original PJ Files) stated that on May 4 he arrived at the Ocean Club at 00.05. When asked, he said he never saw Robert Murat in all the times he visited the scene:
“He does remember, on a day he cannot recall, an individual who identified himself as Robert, saying that he was in PdL as a translator helping the PJ, phoned the Lagos post saying:
That some foreign women, who had already been questioned by the Judiciary Police had phoned him, communicating that in a apartment near them there was a child crying.”
Up to this date only Mrs Fenn has said she heard a child crying. This suggests it was her who may have been the “women” – probably a plural heard by Carvalhosa da Costa where there was none. Although she did not make an official statement until August 20 2007, when she reported hearing crying, which persisted for 75 minutes in the apartment below at 22.30 on May 1st, it’s likely that she had spoken to the police before this statement was taken.
If this was indeed Mrs Fenn, then she had phoned Robert Murat at a very early stage. Presumably, Murat had not just phoned Carvalhosa da Costa a couple of days before the 16th or the officer would have been more precise in his recall of when he spoke with Murat.
Murat’s call to Carvalhosa da Costa must, therefore, have been before May 14th and the crying call conversation must have been made by the woman to Murat on or before May 14th.
Why would Mrs Fenn phone Murat unless she already knew the family and had their phone number? Perhaps Murat has clarified this situation in his December interview with Scotland Yard officers?
We find it perfectly natural for two ex-pat families living down the road from one another in a small village like Praia da Luz to know details of each other such as phone numbers.
Mrs Fenn sustained the neglect scenario with her heart-breaking description of a child crying “Daddy, Daddy.” Having been the alleged victim of a burglary in her own apartment, it didn’t occur to her to alert the Ocean Club reception and ask them to check if a child had been left unattended, or to see if the child may have been crying in the presence of a parent or childminder.
Instead, she phones her friend Edna Glyn, after listening to the crying for half an hour! She was also surprisingly precise in her statement that this was an older child (Maddie rather than the twins) How could she possibly know the age of a child from the repetition of those words?
Kate herself, astonishingly, makes sure we know about the abandonment of the children by confirming that Maddie had asked why no-one had come when she and Sean were crying.
She doesn’t bother to seek clarification about what had happened and allegedly was obviously happy to leave the children again, after hearing this plaintive question.
Many critics of the McCanns have expressed their disbelief and disgust about this incident, wondering why on earth any mother could hear such a question and then continue to go “on the tear.”
A question that must be asked is who wouldn’t express disbelief and disgust before such a narrative? No one. And everyone did, as intended.
The road to abduction had been paved successfully with negligence cobblestones.
Nothing more desolate to a fisherman than to sit and see his bait being ignored by the fish swimming around and by it under the calm and clear waters but nothing is more rewarding to him than the rod straining and bending because schools of fish are fighting for it without mercy.
We suggest that such incriminating “evidence” was part of the narrative, necessary to sustain and reinforce the myth. Every time “neglect” is mentioned; in blogs, tweets, comments on press articles, the narrative is strengthened and embedded.
Although we have chosen not to be seduced by this myth, we must grudgingly admire its potency and endurance. As well as providing an unassailable alibi, it also continues to source so many welcome distractions for TM. So, choose your narrative carefully when you decide where the truth lies.
But what seems to be overlooked by all is how really violent the NoN is to the parents who have lost a child.
The McCann grins and smiles in their excessive assertiveness in defending their own negligence makes us forget the most evident fact of this entire case: they are (not supposed or alleged) parents who lost a child.
They are 2 people to whom a nothing-worse has happened. They have suffered the worst possible tragedy a human can ever be inflicted with.
And yet, as we have seen, there were some who didn’t hesitate for a minute to put one other very heavy burden, the stigma of being neglectful parents, on top of the heaviest possible burden that were on the shoulders of these parents.
These people didn’t give a single thought before making these parents’ nothing-worse be much, much worse. Because they were not only neglectful but that it was that exact neglect that determined their daughter’s tragic fate.
Not only have they lost their child but they were the ones responsible for that having happened. Can it get worse than that?
It can, because much worse than all of the above, the worst of all, was to watch this man and this woman accept without any complaint their nothing-worse being made significantly worse..
And not only without a qualm but with a smile and a grin.