As a child, Aileen Wuornos was subjected to repeated sexual, physical, and mental abuse. This was at the hands of her grandfather who raised her as his own, after her birth mother rejected her.
As an adult, Aileen Wuornos became a sex worker, and she made a living from it, moving to Florida when she was in her 30s. The effect of this lifestyle may have begun to to take its toll on her.
Between 1989 and 1990 she shot dead seven men who had picked her up as a hitchhiker. She would then end up drinking alcohol with them. After killing them, she would take their vehicle and steal cash and other valuables.
There is a theory that she killed these particular men because they either expected sex in return for the lift, or they attempted to rape her. She shot them because they were taking liberties, just like her grandfather had during her childhood.
She was executed for her crimes by lethal injection on October 9, 2002.
Here is what Patrick Tobin wrote about the Aileen Wuornos story.
I've always enjoyed playing about with words, like writing lyrics or short stories at school. The first one I really finished was titled The Ballad of Aileen Wuornos.
I learnt about Aileen Wuornos in 2002 after watching a documentary about her impending execution. I stayed up for nights just thinking about the circumstances of her life. I saw in her a story of an injustice which exploded down the barrel of a gun. She shot seven men dead whilst working as a prostitute on the highways of America.
I connected with her. The way she was mistreated as a child, how she found herself on the outside of society at such a young age. I can't condone what she did, but I can understand why she did it.
What worries me is she only came to prominence through her crimes. Before she murdered those men she was just another hooker on the highway looking for a trick to buy her next fix. A cliché, but true. Her mental health issues were never really recognized until it was too late and she was out of control. She wasn't born to kill these men. It was the circumstances of her childhood which developed her rage. Her childhood consumed her as a young woman into adulthood, and would lead her to murder.
The injustice lies in the way she was treated by a system that should have recognised her vulnerability as an abused child, rather than exploiting her notoriety as a convicted murderer. America's first so called female serial killer. The consequences of Aileen Wuornos’ life may be the death of those men and her execution, but what happened prior to her killing spree went a long way to outline the reasons for her actions.
The ballad I wrote was directed by the need to express the injustice I saw in her life. The criminal case against her became a media circus. It was also a way for me to express myself through her story.
Read more of Patrick Tobin’s thoughts in his memoirs about a life with schizophrenia.
Homesake is available on Amazon Kindle via this link
Porchester Press is pleased to have been commissioned to publish a heritage booklet on behalf of a Nottingham campaign group.
The Bendigo Memorial Fund aims to educate the public on the
life and achievements of William Thompson (aka Bendigo), leading to erecting a new
statue to him in Trinity Square Nottingham. The project seeks to advance the
culture, heritage and social history of his legacy.
William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson was born in Nottingham in 1811, when
Nottingham was one of the most densely populated areas in the British Empire.
The slums were rife with pestilence and disease, and life expectancy was 22,
less than half the national average. One government official even labelled
Nottingham as the ‘Worst town in England’. The people of Bendigo’s childhood home
were said to ‘be the poorest of all Queen Victoria’s children’.
Despite being illiterate and poor, Bendigo’s physique and
agility as a prize-fighter brought him success. His outspoken character and
record in the ring attracted a massive fan base, including Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle, who wrote a verse to the fighter. He went on to become the undefeated
Champion of England and is credited with introducing the ‘southpaw’ boxing
stance. Bendigo was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in
You didn’t know of Bendigo? Well that knocks me out! Who’s your board schoolteacher? What’s he been about? Chock-a-block with fairy tales, full of useless cram, And never heard of Bendigo, The Pride of Nottingham!
Taken from Bendigo’s Sermon by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1909
The booklet’s title ‘Ten Bells For Bendigo’ is taken from
the tradition of the Ten-Bell Salute, given to honour a boxer or wrestler who has
died. It contains 28 pages of interesting facts, quotes and photographs.
Ten Bells For Bendigo is priced at £4.50 plus £1 postage. Proceeds from the sale of this booklet will go to the Bendigo Memorial Fund.
I thought she was the most attractive and perfect girl I would ever meet. She appeared to be everything I could wish for, at first.
She was my sister’s close friend and I suppose I had my eye on her for a while. She was seeing a professional footballer who was injured at the time. I had put all thoughts of romance to the back of my mind and carried on with working as normal. Despite this she was around me a lot, coming to some of my first gigs in town, or visiting my sister at home. I loved it when she went up town with my sister, so I could give them a lift home and maybe drop her off. My sister would make me drop her off first so I never got to be with her in my car alone. I happened to bump into her one Saturday morning at Sneinton Market. I just said hello. She seemed surprised but a little sad. She told me that she’d split up with ‘Hop-Along’.
One sunny bank holiday weekend I was stuck indoors, twiddling my thumbs and listening to music. My sister was ironing, bleaching and hoovering as usual. She could literally do them all at the same time, like a fucking octopus with OCD. I was clearly in her way and she wanted me out of the house, so she could get on with hand washing every one of her multi-coloured Benetton jumpers. The phone rang and my sister broke off from her soapy world and answered it. It was Gilda.
I have named her Gilda after the famous 1946 film noir starring Joan Crawford, and the similarities to the predicament I found myself in. She rang to see if my sister was going out for the day. My sister was already domesticating herself, running taps, and covered in soap powder and Vim, so she suggested (without prompting from me) that I take Gilda out for the day instead. Since I was at a loose end so to speak, I was up those stairs faster than I could slip on my shoes. I had some brand new Bass Weejun loafers from Limeys clothes shop. They had cost me a week’s wages and I was waiting for the right moment to slip them on.
My marine blue Ford Fiesta Ghia (with additional front spotlights) had just been cleaned and on the stereo cassette was The Lexicon of Love by ABC. Once this finely produced 1989 concept album was playing, I was ready to drive up the Dale to her house with the wood stained front door. I was ready to splutter out reasons why I wasn’t already doing something else on such a beautiful bank holiday.
My haircut was straight out of Brideshead Revisited. I wore a white polo shirt (that my sister had quickly ironed) and a buckled smile, trying to conceal my overwhelming joy at being in the same car as Gilda. We awkwardly set off together, heading for Clumber Park, and then the car began overheating in the traffic queues near Sherwood Forest. She even felt so sorry for me that she got out to stop some oncoming traffic so I could make a U-turn out of the queue and relieve my clutch foot that was cramping in my new loafers. Then I made a wrong turn and ended up outside the automatic gates of Centre Parks in the middle of Sherwood Forest, for God’s sake. I think all of this goofiness (and a few decent jokes I’d thrown her way) made her giggle a bit. It held me in good stead for another date.
We drove back into town and I dropped her off at her house.
Psychiatry is full of arrogance, egos and conjecture. It doesn’t like to be questioned, it doesn’t like change, and it doesn’t like new ideas. It is in fact a ‘closed-shop’ of selective and ineffective dinosaurs who speak in a cryptic semantic language only decipherable to themselves. They plod slowly through fields and branches of their own professional confusion while maintaining the belief that the modern human condition is to be treated as a caged animal.
In the hallucinations or the lucid dreams I have, I can’t decipher whether I hear the shot after I wake up or just before I wake up. It’s so confusing, this verge of death thing. The not knowing if I’m alive or dead. It has led me to put myself in situations which would endanger me, just to verify my existence.
They tend to be dangerous for me even though terrifying. The more I did it the more these situations would give me a severe lack of choice as to how to avoid the danger that I would place myself in. Consciously or not, I was trying to get to that exact point where I could allow myself to hear the clarity of a gun-shot. Where the flash could be seen in the distance before it hit me painlessly between the eyes finally to end my life, and without me being responsible for any of it.
So I began taking risks and chances with the way I lived my life, not really caring about the outcome or how things would work out for me. What actually kept me going was the thought that I could hang myself while drunk and psychotic, as though it wouldn’t really be me doing it I suppose. It is this thought which influenced me and fuelled my thirst for alcohol in some ways. It was also a way of numbing all the abuse and those bad memories. It was as though I kept this thought as a ‘Happy Thought’. This encouraged me to carry on because if the condition overwhelmed me again, at least I had some sort of option to stop the suffering in some way. It made my day bearable just thinking about it. I know this is macabre but it was just how things were for me. In the meantime I could continue to abuse myself by drinking heavily, looking for trouble which surrounded me like a bad smell surrounds a corpse.
It was as though people looked into my eyes and saw I had nothing to lose.
Written by an accomplished pianist, but also a Bowie fan too.
I am also a fan of Bowie and I have discovered music through his influences and people he has worked with. Bowie and Garson are similar in that they adapt to anything and are not frightened to try something new.
The book clearly markets itself on Garson’s work with Bowie but readers will find that having been drawn into it, the book is actually a lesson in how anyone can become a creative genius, through practice and dedication.
There are many musical references and terms which meant nothing to me, and sometimes I thought I was getting bogged down in them. I’m glad I stayed with it as by the end I really felt I understood musicianship better. I had to smile at one point when the term ‘120BPM’ was explained at the bottom of the page, and yet terms such as arpeggio and coda were not!
Those readers who do not know Bowie’s music must (before they start reading) listen to his Aladdin Sane album from 1973, in particular the title track which is mentioned regularly throughout the book. It is useful to have these songs in your head as they are spoken about.
Once the reader accepts that the book is not about Bowie but refers to him continually and that Garson is a private man who is dedicated to two things, his family and the piano. Once the reader accepts that Garson avoided the rock and roll excesses and will not be sharing any salacious stories, then then Garson’s unique career can be understood.
As my musical understanding improved gradually through the book, I also discovered more about Bowie from the years 1990 to 2005, a period of productivity that I missed out on.
Toward the end of the book, it is uplifting to learn about his work with music and healing. Where illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease can be added to the existing therapies. Garson continues to teach and pass on his skills to help others.
A fascinating book about Garson’s career. A dedicated musician who just happened to get a call from Bowie in September 1972. A collaboration that changed the face of popular music but did not change Garson as a person.
We are please to say that since the release of the print version, The Showman is getting some good reviews.
“From Chicago to London, then on to Nottingham, England, with connections to Sheffield and Italy, and finally a water-filled quarry in Leicestershire, the story of Michael Buch’s quest to find the truth gathers pace nicely, with bodies piling up discreetly all the time. The dialogue is sharp, well-written and convincing, with the characters more than believable. There are lots of colloquial references to Nottingham and the police procedures are closely observed, even the dreaded Complaints & Discipline Department getting a mention. There are frequent references to the music of the era which adds warmth and charm to the story. A great debut novel. Recommended.”
“Really enjoyed this book. I loved the way the writer gave the story a slow burn pace until the final chapter when it accelerates, hurtling you along to an unexpected conclusion. As a debut novel it is outstanding full of believable characters. Thoroughly recommend it.”
A top 1000 reviewer on Amazon has reviewed The Showman.
From Chicago to London, then on to Nottingham, England, with connections to Sheffield and Italy, and finally a water-filled quarry in Leicestershire, the story of Michael Buch’s quest to find the truth gathers pace nicely, with bodies piling up discreetly all the time. The dialogue is sharp, well-written and convincing, with the characters more than believable. There are lots of colloquial references to Nottingham and the police procedures are closely observed, even the dreaded Complaints & Discipline Department getting a mention. There are frequent references to the music of the era which adds warmth and charm to the story. A great debut novel. Recommended.