As promised, your review of “David Farrant – In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire”
titlle, IN THE SHADOW OF THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE, could not be more apt. The events at Highgate Cemetery in the early seventies were Mr Farrant’s defining moment. Nothing before or since would have the same impact on his life. The ’shadow’ which they cast has proven to be a long one indeed.
Although familiar with the bulk of the material through earlier books and articles, there is enough supplementary information to make this a riveting read. Especially strong are the passages which describe Farrant’s childhood and teens. He manages to evoke the feel of the times and place very well. The chapters which describe his early encounters with the human ’shadow’ who would dog him for the next four decades are amusing and beg to be expanded on at a later date. I am less enamoured of his recollections of his amorous adventures as I feel that they don’t add a lot to the story.
There are also several aspects of this autobiography that need further clarification. If Farrant has been so honest about his sexual relationships, why is he so coy on the enigmatic ‘Alison’ ? Any description of their relationship is couched in ambiguity so that it is difficult for the reader to piece together their story. I can understand that perhaps he finds such memories painful, but given his frankness about other matters the reader does feel slightly cheated.
But such quibbling aside, the real srength of the book is in it’s depiction of Highgate and the surrounding area in another long-gonetime, a subject very dear to my heart. One also wonders how things might have turned out if F arrant had not met certain individuals, one saxaphone-murdering individual in particular. But at least he admits his mistakes. The build up to his arrests and eventual imprisonment reveals a young man who could and should have exercised more caution in his dealings with the press and authorities. Here was a young man who had it all but, as he describes it, he seems to have put the rope around his own neck, albeit with a little help from his ‘freinds’. The concluding descriptions of his imprisonment are very powerful and show his sense of shock and lonliness, and obvious regret. I would like to see this final chapter expanded to include info on his hunger-strike, appeals and release. For the moment though we are left with an intriuging tale of how one very long shadow can cast its influence over the span of a man’s life. And compared to the alternative history I know which one I prefer.