29 May 2010
I drive to Ball Beard Farm, the conversation with Fred’s daughter, Katrina, fresh in my mind. Janet has told me she is ready to relate, blow-by-blow, exactly what happened during her last, traumatic EMDR session with Dr Belinda Browne-Thomas. I am nervous; worried that this time the trauma will prove too much for her. I have my tape recorder on the passenger seat next to me.
I pull up into the farmyard and give Janet a hug. She has lost at least two stone in weight and looks extremely tired.
Eventually, we settle down in Janet’s caravan, sitting across from each other at the tiny table. I switch on my tape recorder.
“Sometimes, in the last month or so, I’ve wondered: ‘What if I bloody did kill him?” I mean I didn’t, but what if I did? All I can remember is absolute terror. I wasn’t angry or walking around with a knife, looking for someone to stab – it wasn’t like that.” She stares into the distance. “We’ve got to do this now, haven’t we?”
Janet’s five dogs are locked safely away in the mobile home across the farmyard which has been Janet’s home since she had to sell the cottage in 1998. She gives me her therapist’s phone number in case of emergency. She tells me that Dr Belinda has said it will be fine to talk about what happened 34 years ago. It isn’t new anymore.
“There’s an element of me that thinks it’s wrong to talk about it – but Dr Belinda says that’s normal too, because of my feelings of guilt after his death. She says: ‘Don’t go down that road because there’s no answer’ but I haven’t managed to do that yet. I can’t stop thinking about it. I look back and I think I should have known there was something wrong with him. He’d changed to the point where I wasn’t enjoying going to the farm any more. Should I have acted quicker and stopped coming up to the farm? If I had he would still be alive.
This autobiography is a wonderfully written roller coaster ride, from the beginning to the end. I didn’t want to stop reading until the very last sentence. Page after page was engaging and dramatic. Loved the photographs, an added treat. A wonderful read that I would gladly recommend.
“So, there are all these feelings in my head. Dr Belinda says don’t go there because there are no answers. And I’m asking ‘Why’? Why after 14 years did he suddenly change? Again, there is no answer, so I have to stop thinking about it. (Janet laughs mirthlessly.) I feel like I’m a different person now since I’ve found out what happened. I’m the person I was in 1976 with 34 years missing and it’s doing my head in. Dr Belinda says I’ve got to separate the man from the farm and the man from the land and the animals because it wasn’t the farm or the land or the animals that did it, it was one man. Get that into your head and accept it.”
Janet shows me her best friend, Mary’s mobile number jotted down on a piece of paper: Another emergency contact.
“Oh, Hell’s Bells.”
I remind Janet that she’s told the story once, so she can do it again.