7th December 1997
It was Serena who was the most use to the police that afternoon.
Aged 14, she was already more than competent to answer all their questions and supply any information they needed. Shaun and I were probably too dazed to be much help, anyway.
We are not, naturally, the worrying kind. Or not till then. Compared with most parents, we’ve always been pretty laid back. Shaun’s secretary at the time called ours the Free Range Children. Barefoot, unrestricted, encouraged to be independent.
Experiences change you.
Believe me, when you realise the police are worrying more than you are, you adapt your attitude pretty fast.
Serena showed them round the bedroom Bink then shared with Alex and Ben. She supplied a list of Bink’s friends and their telephone numbers. She found the note Bink had left which we hadn’t even thought to look for. Saying she was going... but would be back.
She even found Bink’s diary, in her desk, which showed clearly, in her neat, childish and still unjoined-up handwriting, for that day’s entry: “Hodie,” she wrote, was the day.
We didn’t know what to make of any of this.
We knew what to make of the sound we heard over the Vicarage at around 4 o’clock, though.
Some eight years earlier, in 1989, when we lived in our previous home not half a mile away, we had been woken by a raucous chuntering above our heads in the early hours of an August morning.
On and on, for hours it seemed, ratatatatatah!
Inconsiderate and extremely annoying. Noise pollution and traffic of the night city sky. Idiots keeping all the rest of us awake.
It wasn’t until we woke the next day to the terrible news of the Marchioness disaster, fifty of the young and the good and the great and the beautiful drowned in seconds in a birthday party on the river, that I felt ashamed of my appalling attitude.
These were some who would never wake again.
That sound again. Unmistakable. Rattle and blatter and clatter and rattle, above the cold and deadly deep Thames.
Nearly above our Vicarage and garden.
Heatseeking helicopters, sweeping up and down. Looking for Bink’s still warm body.
You worry then, I tell you.
More than worry. You start to say goodbye…