Exploring the Windmills of your Mind.

I’ve missed my sun lounger this year. Even though it has been a hot summer in the UK and Europe I don’t seem to have done what I always enjoy doing, relaxing in a sun lounger; reading, listening to music and letting my mind wander and open up to new thoughts, ideas and blog posts.

A whole bunch of my blog posts have started life in that way, just by relaxing and thinking and later putting those random thoughts down on paper or on my laptop and then later honing them into something readable and hopefully entertaining to my small band of readers out there in Cyberspace.

I have done some sun lounging of course both at home in St Annes and down in France but a motorhome holiday is different to renting a villa like we usually do. Cheaper of course but it seems to me that a motorhome holiday is one where you always seem to be going somewhere but not necessarily arriving. Maybe it might be better to find a suitable caravan park and stake out our own personal corner for a week combined with the usual driving about the previous and following weeks. My big problem of course as anyone who has ever read this blog before is that I am fundamentally lazy. I’m not one for doing a great deal of exploring, except for maybe finding the best way to the pool or the beach or to the nearest restaurant or bar. Once that vital research has been done and locked into my personal sat nav, that malfunctioning out of date device I refer to as my brain, well then that’s my exploring done.

One thing I enjoy coming across in France are windmills. Yes windmills, not the old fashioned ones although I like those too, I’m talking about those huge white modern ones that harness the wind and turn it into electricity. They do that quietly and cleanly without any side effects to the environment although there are some who say the windmills spoil our countryside. That is something I find hard to get my head around, especially when our nuclear power stations create power but leave behind a waste product that is toxic and radioactive for many years and the usual way of disposing of it is to dig huge holes underground in which to bury it like some allegorical cat burying its dirt.

After checking on the Internet I see that there are three kinds of nuclear waste LLW (Low Level Waste) ILW (Intermediate Level Waste) and HLW (High Level Waste). The first too are radioactive for perhaps 40 years but the High Level stuff can be toxic for many thousands of years. So, the next time you see a modern windmill just think for a moment how they are saving us from producing and storing this dreadful toxic waste. Not only that I’ve always found windmills elegant and calming with -and excuse me for perhaps waxing a little too lyrical here- a sort of innate beauty all of their own.

Round about this time of year my email inbox gets flooded with various invitations to participate in the annual JFK Lancer conference in Dallas Texas in the USA. Lancer was the Secret Service codename for President Kennedy and I have to say I do always think about going. It’s a heck of a way but it would combine a number of ambitions: visiting the USA and meeting other folk all interested in what happened to John F Kennedy that day in Dallas back in 1963. Even with the release of new files the real facts are still obscure and today all those intelligence agencies that had links to supposed assassin Lee Harvey Oswald still continue to deny them.

Lee Oswald, in case you didn’t know was a former marine who spoke Russian. Russian you might ask? Yes, Russian. How on earth does a marine get special training in the Russian language? Because he was an intelligence agent of course. Does that mean the CIA liquidated the President? No but it does mean that Oswald was not quite the guy that the media has portrayed.

Still, I’m sure there will be many presentations in Dallas about rifle trajectories, about the ‘magic bullet’ about Police officers who encountered secret service agents on the ‘grassy knoll’ (when in fact there were none) about the CIA and the Mafia. There might even be presentations about the secret service whose actions seem in retrospect to be a little bit odd; their officers spending the night before the assassination at a Dallas nightclub and they later had the assassination car cleaned destroying any forensic evidence. Will we ever know the absolute truth? I think not especially when experts cannot even agree from which direction the shots came from that killed Kennedy and if anyone expects to find a file released by the CIA with the plans for the assassination complete with names, well I don’t think that will happen anytime ever. Still, for conspiracy buffs like me it is all hugely fascinating.

Another death has been on my mind this last week, Liz and I went to a funeral in Blackburn. When you hit your early sixties like I have done funerals seem inevitable. Time runs out for the elderly and infirm just as it will for those who today are young and healthy. Sadly, this was not a funeral for someone old; it was a young girl aged only 28. A university graduate who excelled at sports, especially swimming and who had started a new career in the police force. The church was packed for the funeral and clearly the late girl’s father was surprised and moved at the turnout.

He, his wife and two other children, a son and daughter gave their own eulogies to the deceased each in their own ways. The father thanked everyone he could think of, the mother spoke of her daughters last days which were marked by humour. The sister spoke of earlier happier times and the young brother spoke of how 80 percent of his young life was taken up fighting and arguing with his late sister, each complaining to the parents about what the other had done and each lying that the other was guilty of some misdeed or other. In later life the two had finally become friends, just like many fighting siblings the world over do.

It struck me then about the unfairness of life, about how one person can live a long and happy life and another a short one. Both of those of course lose exactly the same thing but one will have enjoyed a long life and all its benefits while the other would hardly have had the chance to live. I remember thinking of my elderly mother, currently in hospital and fast approaching her 90th birthday. Dementia has taken away her short term memory and she lives in a state of confusion but her heart, nearly ninety years old, beats on as strong as ever. If she had the choice of choosing death instead of that young girl I am sure she would have gladly done so.

Once again I felt myself drawn to my new mentor, Marcus Aurelius for some comfort.


Floating in Space is a novel by Steve Higgins set in Manchester, 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information. In the video below I talk about the city of Manchester and discuss the background to the book.

Woody, Marcus and such Small Portions!

I’ve just returned from yet another jaunt to France, a short one this time, six days in Liz’s motorhome, meandering around the Loire area, which we both love. One of our aims was to spend our nights ‘wild camping’, that is to say camping wherever we could without using commercial camping sites.

France is actually very motorhome friendly with many municipal sites providing free camping and toilet emptying facilities free of charge with optional charges for things like fresh water or electrical hook up and so on. We found a lovely spot by a lake, actually a plan d’eau, called Lac du Homme. In the summer when we visited it was a busy bustling place with a bar and restaurant and many spots for bathing and picnicking. The french take their picnics seriously and always bring huge hampers of food, always covering the many wooden and stone picnic tables with table cloths before opening up their bundles of cutlery, plates and food. At the Lac du Homme there were also quite a few areas with barbecue facilities dotted about, all that was needed were the hot coals and some steaks and burgers to cook.

Now in early October a last burst of summer had come and the restaurant and bar were boarded up for the winter. Most of the time we had the lake to ourselves, joined only by the few occasional visitors. The last two days were so hot we even ventured out onto the man-made beaches for a refreshing dip into the cold, very cold, waters.

One of the great things about being at this quiet lake was not only the quiet, calm and relaxing atmosphere but also the chance to read. I read a great deal but at home and at work I tend to read in short bursts, on my dinner breaks at work, in quiet moments in a morning or before I go to sleep. Holidays are when you can really get to grips with a book, really read it through without having to put the book down and go back into work. On this short break I finished off a book I was reading at work, The Assassination of Princess Diana’ (more about that in an upcoming post) and started on one of the P G Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster books. It was amusing and interesting and thoroughly English but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

One other book I read was one of last year’s reads, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Marcus was an emperor of Rome and when he was compelled to go out with his armies to do battle he spent many hours alone in his tent compiling a series of philosophic writings that became known as the Meditations. Marcus was concerned with the force of nature, the force that drives the universe and all its  workings. Nature for him was probably more akin to God than what we understand nature to be but his thoughts and ideas are very moving, even more so as they were written prior to the year 180, nearly 2000 years ago. A lot of his thoughts are about life and death, simple things like a man who enjoys a long life and a man who experiences a short one both lose the same thing when they die. Death is a natural state he explains. Why fear it when everyone who has ever lived before us, has experienced it. To those of us who hunger for fame (potential authors perhaps) Marcus asks what is the point? One day you will die, one day those who remember you will die so one day your fame will vanish when no one remembers you. Time, says Marcus, is like a river, for as soon as something happens, the river of time carries it away, then some other event comes, also soon to be washed away.

In the opening of Annie Hall, one of Woody Allen’s most popular films, he talks about life in this way: “There’s an old joke, two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.” Woody Allen and Marcus Aurelius, both philosophers in their own ways.

I’ve spent a lovely couple of hours this week watching To Rome with Love, one of Woody Allen’s more recent films. Woody, if you have read one of my earlier posts about directors, is my all-time favourite director. I love his subtle observations about life and love, and his humour. What is a little sad lately, is that Woody’s image and persona have been challenged by his adopted daughter Dylan, who claims Woody assaulted her when she was young, 7, I think, and that he should be arrested and prosecuted. Woody stands by an investigation into the charges from 1975 that exonerated him but of course now, in the age of digital media, Dylan is able to go straight to the people with social media and put forward her case.

Someone who has put forward defence of Woody Allen is Moses Farrow, Woody and Mia’s adopted son. He has claimed in a blog post that his mother Mia was abusive and domineering and referring to the details of Dylan’s claims that there was no railway in the attic-supposedly where the attack took place- and that the attic was only a crawl space, not a place where father and daughter could play.

Many actors and actresses have come forward saying they will never work with Woody again and his reputation seems to sink lower every day and the body of work he has produced is now, by association, tainted. There is even a possibility that his latest film may not be released. I am a big fan of Woody Allen and although these revelations did not put me off watching To Rome with Love, it does set off a small alarm bell in the back of one’s mind. Did Woody do it? Did he molest the young Dylan? Well, two people know for sure: One is Dylan and the other is Woody. Woody claims Dylan’s claims were fabricated by Mia Farrow, his one-time partner and the mother of Dylan as part of a war of hate aimed at Woody because he became involved with another of Mia’s step daughters, Soon-Yi, and in fact, later married her. Mia, according to Woody, has brain washed Dylan with her abuse claims, so if that is true, then only Woody himself knows the truth. It seems to me that if Woody was an abuser then he would have abused other women and as no one else has come forward then that means Woody is innocent -doesn’t it?

Anyway, I don’t expect to see Jimmy Saville on old episodes of Top of the Pops, or Gary Glitter for that matter. Their actions and behaviour have airbrushed themselves out of history. Still, I will be very sad if they stop showing Woody’s films on TV.

Getting back to our trip to France, it was my birthday while we were away and it was nice to celebrate it in the sunny Loire valley instead of cold and rainy England. On our previous motorhome trip we had a lot of issues with mobile wi-fi which can be a bit of a pain when you have a blog deadline for Saturday morning. I wasn’t happy with Virgin media because my mobile data didn’t work in France, despite an expensive phone call to Virgin. Anyway, they sent me a new SIM card and I was happy to find that on this trip my mobile phone connected to the internet without problems. I even found that I could connect my Ipad to my mobile and use my mobile internet on my pad, so much easier than writing a blog post on your phone. Of course I had written my last post about Comics and Superheros in advance and had it scheduled but even so, I always like to tinker with my posts right up to that last moment.

After we returned, Liz and I went to a birthday meal for Liz’s sister-in-law who has a similar birth date to me. One of the other guests, a young girl, asked me about my birthday and how old I was. I was reluctant to say but finally answered 62. “62?” She said, “I didn’t think you were that old!”

Maybe that’s a good thing, that I look younger than I actually am and in fact that comment was really a boost for my personal image but there’s no getting away from that figure of 62. Still, here is one last quote from Marcus;

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.


Floating in Space is a novel by Steve Higgins set in Manchester, 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information.

Death on a Monday Morning

This web page announces me as Steve Higgins: writer and Blogger, but writing is something I do in my spare time. I do have a day job. My usual place of work is an emergency control room and this last weekend my team and I have dealt with two fatalities on our night shifts.

quotescover-PNG-31The first one involved a pedestrian who crossed the M6 motorway running lanes and was hit by a car. Police officers believed he had spent the afternoon and evening at a nearby race course, attended some evening festivities and for whatever reason, decided to walk across six lanes of motorway traffic. Initial reports were for a drunken pedestrian so I can only guess that the man was intoxicated and in that inebriated state made a foolish decision and was killed.

The other death was different. A lady driver spun on the motorway and her car was left sideways on in the carriageway. It was an unlit section of the motorway, it was night or rather early morning. The next vehicle along was an HGV which crashed into her just as she had got out of her car to examine the damage.

As I drove home the next morning I thought about the woman. She may have been on the way to work on an early shift. Perhaps she worked like me in a control room. Perhaps she worked for a transport depot or it could have been anywhere that has 24 hour a day working. I did’t know where she worked or anything about her at all really but I imagined her getting up early, perhaps shutting her alarm off quickly so as not to disturb her partner, if she had one of course. I imagined her getting ready for work, hurrying on to her appointment with death. Perhaps she had a tea or coffee before leaving. I always have a tea and some cereal in the morning or even my favourite fast food- toast. Perhaps she would have said goodbye to her husband. Perhaps not, after all, she would be seeing him later. I can imagine her hurrying if she was late, hurrying to her doom. If only her car had not started.

If she had a car problem she would perhaps have had to call the RAC or AA. They usually take about an hour to arrive. They might have fixed the car after say, thirty minutes or so and she would be back on her way. The spot where she would have crashed would have been full of slow traffic an hour or more later and she would have been forced to slow. Her boss might have told her off, her colleagues might have been annoyed, perhaps they had missed a break because she was late. You can imagine the conversations about that missed hour. Would she have to say behind after work to make up the time? Would her employer take an hour’s pay off her? Either way, she would be alive and well and would see her husband again at the end of the day. Not now, though.

Strange isn’t it, to look back and think what might have happened? I’ve written posts in the past about James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and as I look at the minutiae of their last hours, I’m sometimes drawn to certain things, certain decisions they made and think, if only they had done this, or that, instead, they might have avoided their fate. Still, you cannot change the past. You cannot undo what has happened.

Later, I found an article in the Manchester Evening News about this fatality. The lady in question was a young woman. She was not on her way to work but on her way home so a lot of my assumptions above were incorrect. Either way, she was killed. Whatever plans she had for the future, nights out, holidays, all gone.

If there is a message there, it is this; wherever you are, enjoy your life and your days on this earth, for they can so easily be taken away from you.


Steve Higgins is the author of ‘Floating In Space’ available from Amazon.

Marilyn Monroe: Suicide, the Kennedys, and a Red Notebook

mmpicmonkey-imageIn my book collection, which is pretty big, I’ve probably got more books about Marilyn Monroe than any other single subject although I only have two of her movies on DVD. Some like it Hot directed by the Great Billy Wilder and her very last completed movie, The Misfits. I suppose I’m just more interested in her, the woman herself rather than her films. The woman born Norma Jeane Mortensen, according to her birth certificate, who went on to become the movie star Marilyn Monroe.

Funnily enough, June the 1st, only a few days ago as I write this post, would have been Marilyn’s 89th birthday. It’s hard to imagine Marilyn, this icon of movie star allure as an old woman. Marilyn will never age and our image of her is fixed not only by her movies but by the many clips and photographs of her that fill cyberspace. She was a woman loved by the camera but she had a hard battle to become the person she wanted to be, a serious actress in charge of her own fate as a movie star and in control of her career and her roles.

It seems to me after reading many books about Marilyn, she lived her life in compartments and in each separate compartment were different and separate people. You may have read a book about her by Robert F Slatzer, ‘The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe,’ who claimed to have married Marilyn only to have had the marriage annulled at the request of her movie bosses. Slatzer was kept in a separate compartment from Bill Purcell, who features in my most recent Marilyn book purchase; IMGA0351‘Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed’ in which the author refers to a long time relationship between him and Marilyn. Slatzer and Purcell, and indeed her three husbands, Jim Dougherty, Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, were all kept by Marilyn in separate compartments which only occasionally connected.

Marilyn claimed she only wanted to settle down and have children but stardom was something she could never give up. She had worked so hard for it and when her struggles to have a child failed, or when her relationships themselves failed, her movie career was always there to fall back on.

She died in 1962 aged 36. The coroner said she died as a result of a probable overdose. Indeed, she had a history of overdosing and Arthur Miller, her third husband, saved her from death more than once. Many writers have attributed her sacking from her final film ‘Something’s Got To Give’ as a contributing factor in her suicide but in fact Marilyn had been reinstated to the film at an increased salary. On top of that she had many film projects planned, including a movie biopic about Jean Harlow, so did she commit suicide? Was it an accidental overdose, or was she murdered? Who would want to murder Marilyn Monroe and why?

The fact of the matter is that Marilyn had become rather dangerous to quite a few people and she was in possession of some pretty interesting information because of her involvement with President John Kennedy. Kennedy, who was a serial womaniser, was not amused at her overtly sexual performance at his birthday party and decided to end his association with her. FBI boss J Edgar Hoover had made Kennedy painfully aware he knew of his trysts with another woman named Judith Campbell, who was also intimate with mafia boss Sam Giancana. Anxious perhaps not to give Hoover further ammunition against him, the President tasked his brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy to do the dirty work and smooth over things with Marilyn.

Some books and articles claim that was exactly Bobby Kennedy’s mission with Marilyn; damage limitation and keeping her quiet. Others say things had gone further and Marilyn had another affair, this time with Bobby Kennedy himself. Marilyn was someone who had spent a lifetime trying to better herself in the arts and literature. She was a great reader and she began taking notes of her conversations with the Attorney General in order to research their topics and appear confident and knowledgeable. Those conversations included, incredibly, highly secret things within the US government including attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. She wrote these notes down in a red notebook which she showed to Robert Slatzer. He advised her it was an extremely dangerous notebook to have but as her affair with Bobby Kennedy cooled, if indeed it was an affair, Marilyn grew more and more angry. She claimed to friends she was fed up of being tossed around ‘like a piece of meat’ and threatened to blow the lid on her dealings with the Kennedys in a press conference. Bobby Kennedy wanted that notebook destroyed and Marilyn kept quiet. The mafia wanted derogatory information on the Kennedys and had even had Marilyn’s home bugged. The press conference was arranged for Monday August 6th, 1962. Sadly, Marilyn was found dead in the early hours of the 5th.

mm5409683410_8350501c78_oOn the last day of her life, August 4th, 1962, Marilyn was not depressed but making plans for the future. The day before, the 3rd, she spoke on the telephone with handyman Ray Tolman and arranged for him to visit the next week to sort out some repairs on her house, 12305 5th Helena Drive in Brentwood. She also ordered various plants and shrubs for her garden. She spoke with her publicist Pat Newcomb and invited Pat to stay the night. The two women dined locally and turned in to bed early.

The next day, 4th August, Marilyn was awake when the housekeeper arrived at 8am. She spoke with numerous people on the telephone and arranged for Masseur Ralph Roberts to come over for a barbeque the next night.
Pat Newcomb arose around 12 noon and felt that Marilyn was not in a good mood. Pat had slept well while Marilyn, who had a long history of sleeping problems, had slept badly. This seemed to cause some friction between the two women. Shortly after 1 pm Ralph Greenson, Marilyn’s psychiatrist arrived. Marilyn and Greenson had a therapy session together while Pat spent the afternoon sunbathing by the pool as previously arranged.

At around 3pm Pat Newcomb says Greenson asked her to leave as he wanted to work alone with Marilyn.
Later, Eunice Murray, Marilyn’s housekeeper dropped Marilyn off at Peter Lawford’s beach house while she did some shopping. At about 4pm she returned home and Doctor Greenson also returned for presumably, more therapy.

At 5pm Peter Lawford called and asked Marilyn to a supper later that evening but she declined. Marilyn received numerous telephone calls during the day some of which Eunice Murray had fielded by telling callers Marilyn was busy or not at home. Many times this was simply not true. A call from Ralph Roberts was answered by Dr Greenson who said sharply “Not here,” and put down the phone.

At 7 pm Greenson says he left, leaving Marilyn alone with housekeeper Eunice Murray. At around this time Marilyn took a call from Joe DiMaggio Jr. Joe had broken off his engagement to his fiancée and found Marilyn to be in good spirits. At about 7.30 Peter Lawford called again to ask Marilyn to dinner. His description of Marilyn contrasts with Joe Jr as Lawford states Marilyn’s speech was slurred and that she appeared disorientated. Towards the end of the call Lawford stated famously that Marilyn said, “say goodbye to the President and say goodbye to yourself because you’re a nice guy.” Mexican actor Jose Balleros also claimed to have spoken on the telephone with Marilyn that night, he claims Marilyn was lucid and awake in contrast to Peter Lawford’s statements. The fact is Lawford and Eunice Murray both gave varying reports of what happened on Marilyn’s last evening and neither’s statements can be completely trusted.

According to Murray she noticed a light on under Marilyn’s door but the door was locked. She went outside and saw Marilyn either asleep or unconscious on the bed. This was 10 pm in the first version Eunice told. Later on it was moved forward to 3 am. She called Ralph Greenson who advised her to break a window with a poker. Greenson himself then arrived at the house, broke another window and gained entry through the window and found Marilyn dead.

When Police Sgt Clemmons arrived at 4.25 am he saw Marilyn lying face down in what he called the ‘soldier’s position.’ He said “her hands were by her side and her legs perfectly straight. It was the most obviously staged death scene I have ever seen.” Not only that, all the sheets on the bed were clean and Mrs Murray was busy doing the laundry. Clemmons also noted the unusually long time that had elapsed before calling the police and asked why wait until gone 4 in the morning? Greenson and Murray said the film studios had to be informed first. Later, Murray changed her story saying she saw the light on in Marilyn’s room at midnight, went back to bed then awoke later and saw it was still on at 3am then she called Greenson. Greenson then called Doctor Hyman Engleberg and both doctors arrived shortly after. It was Hyman Engleberg who pronounced Marilyn dead.

Eunice Murray admitted in a BBC interview in 1985 for the documentary say Goodbye to the President that Bobby Kennedy was at Marilyn’s house on the day of her death. Eunice’s son in law and Marilyn’s handyman, Norman Jefferies told author Donald Wolfe that Bobby Kennedy arrived late on the Saturday evening with two unknown men and asked Jefferies and Murray to leave while he spoke with Marilyn alone. When they returned Marilyn was comatose in one of the guest cottages attached to her house. Jefferies and Murray called an ambulance but Marilyn died from an overdose. Was it a suicide or an accident? Was it murder? It seems to me that at this late stage we can never know but the autopsy showed that Marilyn’s blood level contained a lethal level of Chloral hydrate and Nembutal but there was no residue from the pills in her stomach, in fact, Marilyn would have had to swallow 38 to 66 capsules of Nembutal plus the chloral hydrate, and would have lost consciousness long before swallowing all of the pills. Was an injection given? The autopsy showed no trace of any needle marks and the final result was noted as a ‘probable suicide.’ Other versions of this story state that an ambulance was called and Marilyn expired on the way to hospital. Presumably it was the ambulance crew that pumped her stomach removing the pill residue. Recently an ambulance driver named James Hall claimed he attended Marilyn’s home that night and Marilyn was responding to treatment when a doctor whom he identified as Ralph Greenson injected Marilyn in the chest with a hypodermic syringe with a long needle. It was he said an inept amateur injection that broke one of her ribs however, these claims were not substantiated by the autopsy. The body was then returned to her home in order to give Robert Kennedy time to leave Los Angeles. I cannot for a moment imagine Bobby Kennedy as a murderer but he certainly would not want to be associated in any way with a movie star suicide. To this day John Bates, a friend of Kennedy’s claims that Bobby and his family spent the weekend with him at his ranch in Gilroy, south of San Francisco.

The final tragedy of this drama is that former husband Joe DiMaggio was set to remarry Marilyn. The date of the wedding should have been August 8th. Instead Joe attended Marilyn’s funeral on that day.

DiMaggio sent half a dozen red roses to her crypt three times a week for the next twenty years. He died in 1999 aged 84 and never remarried. He never spoke about Marilyn publically ever again. When Robert Kennedy visited the Yankee stadium in 1965, DiMaggio took a discreet step back when it was time to shake Kennedy’s hand.

"Marilyn Monroe crypt2" by User:Oleg Alexandrov. Original uploader was Oleg Alexandrov at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia(Original text : Made by Kodak Easy Share camera by User:Oleg Alexandrov). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marilyn_Monroe_crypt2.jpg#/media/File:Marilyn_Monroe_crypt2.jpg

“Marilyn Monroe crypt2” by User:Oleg Alexandrov. Original uploader was Oleg Alexandrov at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia(Original text : Made by Kodak Easy Share camera by User:Oleg Alexandrov). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marilyn_Monroe_crypt2.jpg#/media/File:Marilyn_Monroe_crypt2.jpg

Sources: The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe by Donald Wolfe

Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed by Michelle Morgan

Goddess by Anthony Summers

Say Goodbye to the President: 1985 BBC documentary

Websites: http://www.lovingmarilyn.com

http://www.cursumperficio.net

For a recent daily Mail article, click here.

 

Seven Questions about the Bobby Kennedy Assassination

I’ve seen and heard a lot of shocking events on television over the years. I remember hearing about the death of Princess Diana one Sunday morning while I waited for the kettle to boil for a morning cup of tea. I was watching TV when 9/11 happened and watched with horror as the second tower was hit by an aircraft. The very first tragedy I learned about from the television though was the shooting of Bobby Kennedy. I was only eleven years old then in 1968 but I knew exactly who Bobby Kennedy was and that his brother, the President, had been assassinated five years before.

Bobby Kennedy was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the 5th of June, 1968. He was celebrating his victory in the California primary the previous day. He made a speech to his campaign supporters then turned away from the rostrum. He was due to meet the press in another part of the hotel and was led away through the pantry area at the back of the hotel. As he passed through the corridors numerous people approached to shake hands with the senator and pass on their best wishes. One man stepped forward though with a gun in his hand. His name was Sirhan Sirhan. He was ahead of Bobby and he pushed forward and began firing his Iver-Johnson eight shot revolver. He was quickly grabbed and pushed down onto a nearby table. The gun stayed firmly in his grasp and he continued to fire as more people assisted in trying to subdue him. Only when all eight shots were fired was the revolver finally wrestled from his grasp. Bobby Kennedy had been injured in the head and a busboy, Juan Romero, dropped to his knees to help. He pushed rosary beads into Bobby’s hands and the injured Senator was heard to ask ’is everyone safe?’

Robert Kennedy picture courtesy wikipedia

Robert Kennedy picture courtesy wikipedia

Bobby Kennedy died the next day. It’s fairly probable that had he lived he would have succeeded Lyndon Johnson as the next President of the United States. He was a man clearly concerned about the war in Vietnam, not only the war itself but the effect it was having within the United States so one of his priorities would surely have been ending the war. J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI had been given a special dispensation by Johnson to stay at the head of the bureau despite having reached the mandatory retirement age. Would Kennedy have retired Hoover and put his own man in charge? Would he have reopened investigations into the death of his brother John, the assassinated President? Either way, these are only speculations. Bobby died the next day.

1. The autopsy showed that Bobby was hit in the back of the head at point-blank range. The fatal shot was fired in an upward direction. How could this be if Sirhan Sirhan was ahead of Kennedy and not close enough to inflict a point blank wound?

2. Scott Enyart, an amateur photographer was in the pantry and photographed the shooting. His film and photographs could answer many questions but they were confiscated by the LAPD. Later he sued the Police department for the return of his pictures but the Police claimed they had been routinely destroyed. What happened to them? Why was photographic evidence relating to the death of a major figure in the US destroyed?

3. Sirhan Sirhan had a number of notebooks. They were filled with page after page of notations like ’RFK must die.’Robert Kennedy must be assassinated.Why did he write these things? Were they part of hypnotic techniques that compelled Sirhan to shoot Bobby Kennedy?

4. Who was the girl in the polka dot dress seen leaving the hotel with a companion after the shooting and boasting that they had killed Kennedy?

5. Why was witness Sandra Sorrano forced to change her story about the polka dot dress girl during an aggressive interview with the FBI?

6. Sirhan Sirhan fired an Iver-Johnson eight shot revolver at Kennedy and discharged all eight bullets. In 1988 examination of an audio recording made of the assassination by reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski revealed thirteen gunshots rather the eight fired by Sirhan. Who fired the other five shots?

7. On August 21, 1968, less than two months after the assassination, 2400 photographs from the original investigation were burned, in the medical-waste incinerator at LA County General Hospital. Other records were also destroyed. Why?

When I heard about the shooting of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 I went out into the back yard of our home in the suburbs of Manchester and said a prayer for him. When he died the next day I was stunned, feeling a personal loss despite being an eleven year old English boy living a thousand miles away from the United States. In the USA itself, thousands of mourners lined the path of Kennedy’s funeral train as it wound its way towards Washington where Bobby was buried beside his slain brother, the President, in Arlington National Cemetary.

Recently Robert Kennedy Jr met with Sirhan Sirhan in a California State Prison and declared he now supports calls for a reinvestigation of the murder. Read more about this in an interesting article in the Washington Post by clicking here.


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If Only . .

Just looking through my old videos the other day and I came across a documentary about James Dean called ‘James Dean’s last day’. It’s an interesting film and a sad one too as it counts down Dean’s last day, his leaving Hollywood and his departure for a racing event at Salinas. If you don’t know much about Dean then you won’t know he was an amateur racing driver and was killed in a car crash in his new Porsche.There are so many ifs and as I watch the film I keep thinking if only Dean had left the Porsche on the trailer instead of driving it to the race track. If only the speeding ticket he was given had made him slow down. If only a man called Donald Turnupseed had seen Dean and not turned across him. Such a shame, such a tragedy. Dean, I’m sure, would have gone on to make so many great films and one day he would have directed some too.

Racing driver Ayrton Senna is a man would have gone on to greater things too, more world championships and more race wins. I even read something by Ron Dennis the other day in which the McLaren boss said that Senna had political ambitions too. Could he have run for the Brazilian Presidency? We’ll never know because Senna was killed at San Marino in 1994 and we are left only with the on car video pictures of him as his car slipped from under him and hurtled towards the crash barrier. The on car pictures fail before the final moments of impact when a suspension arm was flung back and pierced his helmet, causing his death.

A video that did show someone’s final moments was one I saw the other day. I was lying outside in the sun and I could hear a video playing on Liz’s I-pad. It was a woman talking about her son’s motorbike crash and hoping the video would help other road users, particularly car drivers who need to look out for bikes. I was reading a book at the time and the video distracted me, then I heard the sound of the bike, the rushing of the wind and then the impact.

“What was that?” I asked, “Was the crash filmed?”

Indeed it was. The rider was wearing a helmet camera and his fatal crash had been recorded. Later I took a look for myself. The rider was a relatively young man, only thirty eight years old and the video starts off as he waves goodbye to his friends at an air base and immediately he leaves the car park he is gunning his bike very, very, fast. As his mother talks sadly about her lost son, holding back the tears we cut again to her son, riding extremely fast and passing cars quickly on a single carriageway road. He pulls out and slips quickly past a car. As he pulls back in front of the car he reaches a junction, another car pulls across to turn right in front of him and he has only time to shout ‘No’ and he hits the car and tumbles onto the verge. The impact is shocking, so shocking I awoke last night still thinking off it. The rider had been doing 97 mph and had no chance whatsoever of surviving or avoiding the crash. Why was he going so fast? If only he had tucked in behind the car at the junction he would have avoided the crash altogether.

These are questions without answers. Riding a bike very fast is exhilarating and exciting but a rider needs to be so very aware of what he is doing, what is happening ahead and he must react so much quicker than a car driver as he is so much more vulnerable. Listening to the video, as I first did when it played on Liz’s I-pad, it seemed to me that the clip was aimed at motorists who do not look properly, who do not check properly for other vehicles before turning. After actually watching the video it is clear that the speed of the rider, 97mph on a sixty mph road, was the main factor in the accident and it meant that the rider had no time almost to react other than to hit his brakes. Still, if the car driver had taken a second look up the road, a second glance, he might have seen the bike and stopped. If only.

I’ve had a few scary moments on my motorbikes but I don’t think I ever hit 97 mph, even on the motorway but then I’m not sure the 125 and 250cc bikes I had could go that fast. At work they used to call me the fair weather rider because if it was raining I would always get the bus to work. When I bought  my first car I hung up my helmet for good apart from a brief fling with a Kawasaki 500 when I had split up with my girlfriend.

The car driver was prosecuted and had his licence suspended for 18 months and was also sentenced to 130 hours of community work. The Bike rider lost his entire life, his whole future that was ahead of him, gone, just like that of James Dean and Ayrton Senna. He wasn’t a famous man and wouldn’t have, I suppose, made any great movies or won any motor races but he would have married, perhaps had children and gone on to live a happy, contented life. All lost in a single moment.

Catchphrases, Pub Friends, and Big Steve

quotescover-JPG-23Not long ago at work I noticed something that wasn’t right on the rota so I spoke to our former rota lady about it. She agreed with me, there was a problem but she herself couldn’t do anything about it and I would have to contact the new ‘National Roster Team.’

“Drop them an e-mail.” She said, then added with a giggle. “Tell them you’re not happy!”

Now, at first I don’t think I quite understood that but the other day I had an e-mail from a colleague which was in reply to some procedural point I had raised. The e-mail said something like I’ll sort that out straight away because I wouldn’t want you to be ‘not happy!’

Now, we don’t always notice that something we say habitually has become a sort of personal catchphrase and I’m sure I don’t say ‘not happy’ that much but clearly some people think differently.

trawlboatHere’s another example of a catchphrase or saying that I always associate with a particular person but first I need to tell you about a pub that Liz and I regularly use. It’s called the Trawl Boat and we both know a lot of people in there. I don’t always know their names but then that’s the thing about pub friends, they’re acquaintances and beyond our pub chatter I don’t know much about most of them at all. Anyway, there are the two guys who always stand at the end of the bar and order double rounds (not sure if that’s a comment on the bar service or maybe they just like their ale!). The thin guy who works for British Aerospace and is not happy (oops, there’s that phrase again! ) about being sent by his company to work on a project in Australia. (Wish my employer would send me off on a project like that! ) Then there’s his colleague with the Kojak haircut and a group that I do know the names of, Colin and Dougie, B&B owners in St Annes and Nick who manages a hotel on St Annes front.

The very first guy we got chatting with in the Trawl boat was a guy we called Big Steve. I’m six-foot and Big Steve towered above me, he must have been six-foot six, easy. He was a pretty fit guy having been a former drayman, one of those people who lug big beer barrels about for a living and he was a really easy fellow to get on with. We always used to sit with Steve and have a drink and a natter and when he was due to leave his would pull his jacket on, say his goodbyes and then always say to us; “Nice to see you both again: As always.” And then he would be off.

A couple of years ago we saw Big Steve sometime in December and as usual at the end of the evening we said our goodbyes, wished each other a happy Christmas in case we didn’t see each other before the holidays and Steve said his usual “Nice to see you both: As always” and left.

We didn’t see Big Steve over Christmas, nor through the New Year period and one day we both said together in the Trawl Boat, ‘wonder where Steve is?’ Anyway we thought nothing of it and assumed we’d catch up with him soon.

Later, Liz was chatting to some of the regulars and one mentioned to her that he had been to a funeral the previous day. Liz asked idly who the deceased was and the man answered that it was someone they didn’t think Liz or I knew. It was a guy called Big Steve who used to be a drayman! Well, the words leapt up and hit Liz like a slap. Big Steve was gone and we’d hadn’t even had a chance to pay our respects at his funeral. I can’t tell you how sad we both felt.

Liz, being the amateur Sherlock Holmes she is, tracked down the widow and we went to see her to pass on our condolences. It turned out that Steve had died quietly in his sleep and his wife went into his room one morning to find him dead. Not very nice for her but a peaceful passing at least for Steve but here’s a thing about pub friends. I don’t have the phone numbers of any of those guys from the Trawl Boat and apart from the guys who own B&B’s I’ve no idea where they live. Luckily, Big Steve had mentioned Nick to his wife as being a hotel manager and one day they had popped in the hotel for a meal and when Big Steve passed away that was the one contact she had for Steve’s pub friends.

One day, in the next world, I’ll make a point of finding Big Steve and I can see myself now tapping him on the shoulder and saying “Nice to see you again Steve, as always.”

Hope he doesn’t turn round and say “Steve, I’m not happy!”


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Three Funerals and a Pork Pie

quotescover-JPG-12The other day my Mum started discussing her funeral plans with me. She is eighty-five this year and I suppose at that age one starts to think that the day is coming when you won’t be around. Even so, it was pretty shocking to be talking about her funeral.

The first ever funeral I went to was my Uncle Raymond’s. Raymond was my favourite uncle and the most wonderful guy. When I first started work when I was sixteen, going on seventeen, I used to get off my bus, the 152, at the Bluebell pub in Handforth after coming home from work in Manchester and Uncle Ray was there, waiting for the pub to open. Inside he chatted to everyone, the staff, punters he had never met before and at the drop of a hat would produce the photographs from his recent cruise showing him and my Auntie Elsie sat at the Captain’s table. He would come back home with us, have dinner, and then take my Dad out to finish the evening off.

When he died his funeral cortege took a detour past the British Legion, one of his numerous watering holes, and the staff and customers came outside to pay tribute as his coffin passed slowly by.

The funeral was sad and tearful and the wake was pretty similar. A lot of sad people, a lot of tears and my Dad, who had probably lost his best friend was devastated. I was driving that day and was asked to run some long forgotten relative home. I did so and returned a short while later. Only twenty minutes or so had passed but when I returned, I returned to a happy, noisy, enjoyable party, full of laughter and fun. I don’t know what had happened in the twenty minutes I had been gone but I came back to exactly the sort of party that my Uncle Ray would have loved.

When my Gran died the funeral service was held in Marple, I’m not sure why as it was nowhere near where my Gran lived or was buried. The journey from there to Southern Cemetery in Manchester was for me, a masterpiece of motor car management, juggling with high water temperature and having to dive into a garage to top up my car with water.

At the graveside I noticed my Dad making signs to the two grave diggers and after the coffin had slipped into the ground and the final words of the vicar had faded, my Dad, a former grave-digger in years gone by, had a happy and joyful reunion with two of his old co-workers, much to the dismay of my Mum who stood with me and cried her heart out. (Not your finest moment, Dad.) At least he thought better of introducing her to his friends which I thought he was going to do at one point.

A few years ago I went with Liz to a funeral in Lytham. I felt distinctly out of place, an intruder even, as I did not know the deceased or his family. There was however, a rather nice buffet which, under the circumstances, I felt it was important to do justice to. I did feel a little mean when I grabbed the last pork pie moments before a teary eyed lady in black appeared and eyed the empty plate somewhat wistfully.

When I was introduced to her later I could see from her expression she was trying to place me. As I smiled and offered condolences I saw the moment of realisation ; and I almost heard her say in her mind ‘I recognise him- he’s the bugger who took the last pork pie!


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A Manchester record store and James Dean

Many years ago in my mid-teens I was in Manchester doing pretty much what I have always done, then and now, whenever I have free time on a Saturday, either looking at records in a music store or looking at books in a book shop.

In 2014 there are not many record stores left; the whole culture of buying records is a different ball game these days, downloading instead of taking home a hard physical copy. Anyway, that’s a whole different blog. To get back to this one, back in that record shop I’d thumbed through the discs, checked out all the cheap records and then began flipping through the posters. This must have been mid-seventies so the posters were people like David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, Rod Stewart but there was one poster of a man in his mid-twenties wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. He was pulling a moody sort of look but there was something about him that was interesting. Anyway, he turned out to be an actor that I’d never heard of and the shop assistant pointed out a book about him in the store, a paperback, so I picked it up and read about the actor’s life. He was called James Dean.

James Dean courtesy wikipedia.

James Dean courtesy wikipedia.

Dean was born in Indiana and his mother died of cancer when Dean was only nine years old. There is a haunting passage in that paperback I bought that tells of how Dean’s father, Winton, sent little Jimmy Dean back to his Aunt and Uncle’s home in Indiana on the train carrying his mother’s coffin. Jimmy was brought up in Marion, Indiana by his Aunt Ortense and Uncle Marcus and later went to college to study acting.

His first movie was East of Eden directed by Elia Kazan who had introduced method acting to the American stage and had worked with Marlon Brando in ‘A Streetcar named Desire’. ‘Rebel Without a cause’ was Dean’s next movie. Directed by Nick Ray it is probably Dean’s most iconic film. This is the movie in which Dean wears his famous outfit of red jacket, white t shirt, and jeans.

His third and last movie was ‘Giant’ in which he stars with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson and plays Texan bad boy Jett Rink. Dean was killed in car crash only days after finishing shooting. He was a keen amateur racer and had bought a new Porsche speedster only days earlier. The car, nicknamed ‘little bastard’ had collided with another vehicle, a station wagon at the junction of route 41 and 466. Dean suffered a broken neck and was declared dead on arrival at a hospital in Paso Robles.

I’m not sure why a council house boy from Northern England should connect so closely with James Dean, an American actor. but back in the seventies Dean became one of my personal heroes. I remember going to a cinema in Oxford road to see back to back showings of East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause on a very hot summers day. I bought a soundtrack album of those movies too, in the days before video and DVD. Dean was a counterpoint to actors like Richard Burton, he mumbled and mispronounced things. I think that was what I liked about him, he was natural and imperfect. He had an image more rock star than 50s actor. There was a great documentary about him made in the 70s and the music of the times, Bowie and Elton John featured heavily. Anyone remember that eagles track ‘James Dean?’

Well, after writing this quick essay about Jimmy Dean I must find the time to take a look at some of his films again. Did I happen to mention what I bought in the HMV sale not long ago? The James Dean Box set, but I’m sure you had guessed that anyway. .

The Assassination of John F Kennedy

Dealey Plaza The 22nd of November 2013 was the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most shocking events of the twentieth century, the assassination of President John F Kennedy. I personally expected a deluge of TV documentaries about the assassination but in fact on UK TV there really weren’t that many. A re-showing of the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. A documentary about media response to the assassination which was really the media looking at themselves. But that was really it, there were no probing or investigative programmes, perhaps in 2013 it was far too late for that.

In 1988, twenty-five years after John Kennedy’s death, a veritable wave of documentaries were broadcast on British television, including a rare showing on channel four of the 1966 film of Mark Lane’s ‘Rush to Judgement’. On ITV a documentary by producer Nigel Turner called ‘The Men who Killed Kennedy’ was aired, claiming fantastically that assassins from the French underworld killed the President. That particular film, which had its merits despite its incredible conclusions, was similar to many other films, books, and articles, in that they all challenged the establishment view, framed in the report of the Warren Commission, that the lone killer was a man called Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1995, BBC TV’s ‘Timewatch’ gave us a view of Oswald that brought us full circle. Heavily influenced by the book ‘Case Closed’ by Gerald Posner, the film said look, Oswald really did it after all.  So, have you had your fill of conspiracy theories? Have you heard enough of CIA plots and Watergate and Iran-Contra? Enough of the ‘grassy knoll’, the Book Depository, and Dealey Plaza? Has perhaps our interest in the fate of President Kennedy been diminished by revelations of the apparently numerous indiscretions in his private life?

Whatever the truth of John Kennedy’s private life, his graphic death was the cataclysm of our age, imprinted on the minds of a generation by the flickering incarnation of amateur cine film. For many the case is not closed and has never been even remotely resolved despite two official investigations, the last of which -by the House Select Committee on Assassinations- concluded, ambiguously, that the President was killed “probably” by the result of a conspiracy.

So what are the facts of the assassination? Perhaps the only undisputed fact to emerge from the tragedy was that John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States, was shot in the head and killed. President Kennedy was hit by rifle fire in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, while riding in an open topped limousine, part of a motorcade that had just turned onto Elm Street by the Texas School Book Depository. Almost every other fact, every statement, every report, every document, every exhibit, every disclosure, is open to question.

Were there three shots or four? Were there more? Was the President shot from behind or from the front? Was he shot from the sixth floor of the book depository or from the so called ‘grassy knoll’?  Did  twenty-four year old ex-marine Lee Harvey Oswald fire the shots? Was he alone or were there other assassins? Why did Jack Ruby, a local night club owner subsequently shoot Oswald? Was it to silence him, to stop him from telling what he knew? Did Ruby act out of rage or was he part of a conspiracy? Was he in the pay of the Mafia? Was the CIA involved? The questions are endless, the answers are few.

Image courtesy wikipedia

Image courtesy wikipedia

Lee Oswald was a young man with an extraordinary background.  He was not the ‘lone nut’ as described by the Warren Commission, the investigative body set up by President Johnson to examine the assassination. An ex radar operator at a top-secret US base in Japan, Oswald had spent years in Soviet Russia as a supposed defector. He was known to the FBI and had connections with military intelligence and the CIA. He appeared to be involved in left-wing Cuban politics and supported Fidel Castro. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald shot the President but failed to answer the important question -why? Why should a left-wing activist shoot a liberal minded president who in the words of his critics had gone ‘soft’ on communism and Cuba?

But as we examine the accepted elements of the murder more and more inconsistencies occur. The President was shot at 12.30 pm, but Oswald, who worked at the book depository, was seen by witnesses in the second floor lunch room as late as 12.15, which left him only fifteen minutes to ascend to the sixth floor, produce his rifle and take up position. Of course fifteen minutes might have been enough time for a cool and organised killer, but the President was actually due to arrive at a reception at the Dallas Trade Mart at 12.30, which meant he would pass through Dealey Plaza at about 12.25, giving Oswald only ten minutes to be in place, and he had no way of knowing the President would be late. Immediately after the shooting patrolman Marrion Baker entered the Book Depository, drew his gun and with building superintendent Roy Truly hot on his heels confronted a young man in the lunchroom calmly drinking a coke. Truly explained that this was Lee Oswald, an employee. Had Oswald rushed down from his ‘snipers lair’ on the sixth floor or had he been in the lunch room all the while?

image courtesy wikipedia

image courtesy wikipedia

Perhaps the strongest evidence linking Oswald to the murder was the supposed murder weapon, a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano bolt-action rifle, a World War II vintage carbine found on the sixth floor of the book depository at 1.22 pm, almost an hour after the assassination. The rifle had been purchased mail order by an ‘Alek Hidell’ and sent to Dallas post office box number 2915, rented by Oswald. When arrested, Oswald was carrying an identity card in the name of ‘Hidell’. To this day there is dispute over whether Oswald’s palm print was found on the rifle. All pretty damning you might think, but the officer who first found the rifle, Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman, identified it as a 7.65 mm Mauser, and was confident enough to make a sworn affidavit to that effect.

The day after the shooting, November 23rd, District Attorney Henry Wade also described the weapon as a Mauser at a televised press conference. How then does a 7.65mm Mauser become a 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano? I personally know nothing about guns at all but I have seen enough war films to know that a Mauser is German, and stamped clearly on the side of the Mannlicher-Carcano are the words ‘MADE ITALY’ and ‘CAL 6.5’. And surely a police officer, particularly an American policeman, would know what he was talking about concerning guns?

Abraham Zapruder, a local businessman took his cine camera to work that day to film the Presidential parade but what he recorded instead was a Presidential murder. In doing so he contributed arguably the most important piece of evidence in the whole case. His film gave investigators a filmed record and a timetable for the shooting. Examination of the film by FBI experts revealed the time between the first shot to hit the President and the shot that struck his head was 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. It was first thought that there were four shots, one shot hitting Kennedy in the throat, a second completely missing and hitting the kerb, a third hitting Governor Connally also seated in the Presidential car, and a fourth shattering Kennedy’s skull. Given that it takes 2.3 seconds to operate the bolt action rifle, four shots will not fit the time frame for one assassin and one rifle so the Warren Commission came up with the so called ‘magic bullet’ theory, that the second of three shots hit both Kennedy and Connally. This view has been blasted from a number of angles, firstly the bullet itself emerged as almost completely pristine, while one which had passed through the flesh and bone of two human bodies would have been severely deformed. Secondly, in the Zapruder film Governor Connally is seen to turn around as Kennedy is hit then appears to be hit himself as he turns to face front again.

Expert riflemen were called in to test the murder weapon. They were unable to duplicate Oswald’s supposed feat of marksmanship and complained of difficulty operating the rifle’s bolt mechanism and even the trigger. The telescopic sight could not be properly aligned and had to be rebuilt with metal shims added to make it accurate, which means of course that the rifle was tested in a configuration not available to Oswald. Also, test firing was done at still, rather than moving targets. The assassin would also have had to track the President as he passed behind an oak tree, resight his target and then shoot. So did Lee Oswald really do the shooting? What about the shot to the Presidents head which knocked him back and to the left indicating a shot from the right front -the grassy knoll area? And what about the bystanders who rushed up the grassy knoll including a motorcycle patrolman who tried to ride his bike up there? They felt the final shot came from the knoll as did railroad workers on the triple underpass, as did Abraham Zapruder the amateur cine cameraman, as did Mary Woodward of the Dallas Morning News, as did Lee Bowers positioned behind the grassy knoll atop a 14-foot railroad tower, as did many others. So, if other gunmen were involved, who were they? Who paid them? Who organised them? Who stood silently in the wings and watched while the President was killed?

JFK movie poster

JFK movie poster

Oliver Stone’s blockbuster movie from 1991, JFK. was a recreation of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the murder of the president and before filming had even been completed the US media had begun -if you’ll excuse the pun- to throw stones at Stone. In conclusion the movie offers us the theory that the American ‘military-industrial complex’ was responsible for the crime, the theory running like this; Lyndon Johnson took over the reins of the presidency following JFK’s death. He continued with Kennedy’s cabinet and Kennedy’s policies, all except one -Vietnam.

Not wishing to become embroiled in a guerrilla war in south-east Asia Kennedy had already ordered home from Vietnam one thousand troops. Johnson reversed that decision and thus began the disastrous American adventure that was the Vietnam War. Extreme right-wing elements opposed to John Kennedy’s policies of peace ‘removed’ Kennedy in favour of Johnson. Sound fantastic? To be fair to JFK, everything presented as fact was factual, and everything that was conjecture was presented as such, but the real life investigation by Jim Garrison  concluded that the CIA were the real culprits.

After the disaster of the Bay of Pigs, the CIA-backed invasion of Cuba by Cuban exile brigades during which the CIA had attempted to force Kennedy into committing American troops into the assault, Kennedy had vowed to splinter the CIA into “a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”. The CIA had become almost autonomous from the elected government, pursuing its own policies around the globe. It had developed a capability -revealed during the 1970’s in senate hearings- known as ‘executive action’, a capability of political assassination. The ‘company’ as the CIA calls itself, was involved with mafia hoodlums to murder Fidel Castro. Castro is alive and well today, but did the CIA collude with the mafia to murder its own commander-in-chief, the President of the United States?

Jim Garrison’s investigation came to nothing but in 1991 lawyer, writer, and JFK investigator Mark Lane was involved as defence attorney in a libel case instigated by CIA man and ex Watergate burglar Howard Hunt. The hub of the case was a newspaper article claiming Hunt was in Dallas on the day of the President’s murder. Hunt denied this, claiming to be in Washington at the time. In court Lane introduced testimony that indeed placed Hunt as part of a CIA team in Dallas on the day in question. Leslie Armstrong, forewoman of the jury said afterwards “Mr Lane was asking us to do something very difficult -he was asking us to believe that John Kennedy had been killed by our own government. Yet, when we examined the evidence, we were compelled to conclude that the CIA had indeed killed President Kennedy!”

A shocking and significant breakthrough in the JFK murder you might think? Leslie Armstrong went on to call for action to be taken by the proper authorities in the government. Nothing was done. The US Justice Department did not stir, nor has any other organ of the forces of law and order in the United States. The US media continues to ignore the countless revelations that have appeared in the years since John F Kennedy was killed, yet conspiracy theories are abundant in Europe and the UK. Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandals have shown us the dark underbelly of the American establishment, could it be that some secret influence is at work, hidden from public perception, preventing serious examination of the crime of the century?

President Obama has recently been elected to another four years in office, and in accordance with US law they will constitute his last term. Obama’s presidency has been largely unremarkable but he still has a chance to offer something significant to his fellow Americans and to the world. He can appoint a special prosecutor and special investigators and direct the CIA and FBI to answer pertinent questions. Not about how many shots, or from what direction, or any of the other thousand and one questions regarding the minutiae of the assassination but who was responsible? Who gave the orders? Who really killed President Kennedy? Still, perhaps even that would be fifty years too late.


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