Well, its almost the weekend once more, and what easier way to ‘skimp’ writing a Blog than to post up something that I’ve already written. Its from the third chapter of my new book “David Farrant – In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire” (Vol 2) and carries on with events after I was released from prison in 1976. I’ve written a lot more; in fact, now got up to the year 1991, just to show you all I’ve been busy!
Anyway, here’s the lead into the third chapter. Enjoy it ‘cause you ain’t getting any more for the moment!
SO IT WAS, that in July 1976, I was released from prison on Parole, escaping just 3 months of the time I still had left to officially serve. They had given me a ‘prison release suit’, perhaps in stark contrast to the jeans and sandals I’d first been arrested in. It was too hot to wear a suit really, for that month (with others still to come) was at the peak of the famous 1976 heat wave. My only luggage really were two large cardboard boxes (so heavy they were almost impossible to carry) containing all my legal submissions and complaints I had made about my Trial, the prison authorities and the Home Office, to support an Application I had lodged for Hearing before the European Court of Human Rights.
Quite apart from this I was still considerably weak from my seven week hunger strike; one of the main reasons I had been released from prison. That, and the intense heat, did little to help me enjoy my new found ‘sense of freedom’.
A prison officer (one of the more humane ones) ran me the two or three miles to the railway station at Lowestoft and handed me a one-way ticket to Liverpool Street in London, courtesy of the prison authorities. Laughingly, he told me to make sure it was ‘one-way’ as he wouldn’t like to see me back again!
Sitting on the train, it seemed hard to believe I was really free. It was difficult to suddenly adjust to the reality of ‘freedom’ all around, and my thoughts were still ‘pulled back’ to the grim nightmare I was leaving further and further behind.
Before long, the train sped past the suburbs of Lowestoft, and I was looking out at scorched fields and brown leaves of trees and hedges, all victims of the intense drought. The earth itself seemed to be crying out for water, but there was none; even many of the rivers were virtually dry. I was told it was the severest drought in living memory; but I didn’t care that much. Freedom seemed to have opened its arms to the exclusion of caring; and besides, there was plenty of cold beer available on the train!
One of my Parole conditions was that I had to stay (at least until the end of my licence) with a lady I’d become friendly with, who had visited me regularly in prison. Her name was Elspeth Nolan; a petite dark-haired girl with brown eyes, who looked at people knowingly if she liked them, but tended to stare straight through them if she was indifferent.
She lived in a high-rise tower block just outside Finsbury Park, with her 8-year-old daughter, Caroline. Her flat was immaculate – but anything would have seemed luxurious outside the grey confines of that prison. She cooked the most carefully prepared meals, though whether this was just for my benefit or part of a normal habit, was impossible to tell. I had my own small bedroom with a comfortable bed, and she often came in to say goodnight and see if there was anything I wanted.
But much as I liked her and her hospitality – and notwithstanding that I was bound to stay there by the conditions of my parole – I nevertheless felt a bit out of place, and yearned to get back to my roots in Highgate. So whilst still staying there, I made a few visits to my old ‘Highgate haunts’ and visited people I had known when I lived there.
One of these was my friend Julia – the ‘witch girl’ – the same person that I had called to give evidence in my defence at my Old Bailey trial. She was living in Crouch End now, and had kindly arranged to store boxes of the things for me from my Highgate flat whilst I was in prison. She insisted she knew a good pub in Tottenham Lane, called The Railway.
We sat at a secluded table to ‘catch up’, and it wasn’t long before we noticed several heads at the bar kept staring in our direction. These people all seemed to be of one type; mostly clean cut and shaven, and all drinking together. It didn’t take long to realise that they were all off-duty police officers, who had obviously recognised myself from my pictures in the newspapers. It hadn’t occurred to Julia that the pub was virtually ‘next door’ to Tottenham Lane police station, and a regular ‘socialising place’ for local police. But I remained indifferent, and brushed aside Julia’s suggestions to leave. I knew there was nothing they could do to me now, and wasn’t about to ‘give way’ to a few intimidating looks. . .
(c) David Farrant