The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, the ongoing campaign for justice and a tribute to the victim of a murder still unsolved after 31 years
By Keeley Moss
PART 23 - CONTENTS Chapter 62: A Strange Glow in the Sky Chapter 63: The Light that Burned So Brightly Chapter 64: Reaching into the Night Acknowledgements for Part 23
Chapter 62: A Strange Glow in the Sky
Floating out on the tide
Following the river of death downstream
Oh, is it a dream?
There’s a fog along the horizon
A strange glow in the sky
And nobody seems to know where you go
And what does it mean
Art Garfunkel – ‘Bright Eyes’
“See you soon! Happy Easter!” were the last words Inga wrote to her parents, in a postcard she sent from London on Saturday April 2nd 1988, four days before she was murdered in Northern Ireland. Although she would speak with them by telephone when she rang them on each of the last four days of her life, those were the very last words she would commit to paper addressed to the two people who brought her into the world and raised her. It is just one of the many tragic facts of Inga’s case that she would not see them soon as she had written. Instead she would never see them or anyone else she knew ever again.
After visiting Cambridge on the following day, April 3rd, Inga returned to London where she caught a connecting train to Oxford. It was there I discovered she made her way by bus to Headington to stay at the youth hostel, steps that I retraced and covered in Parts 21 and 22. The next morning Inga made her way on foot to New Marston where she caught a bus to return to Oxford city centre. On her arrival she made her way back to Oxford train station where she boarded her next train. This time, she was bound for the largest city in the county of Somerset: Bath.
Thirty years on I would continue to retrace the same route when I boarded the train at Oxford and watched from a window as ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’ drifted into the distance. My next stop would turn out to be a nondescript-looking place but one with a great-sounding name – Didcot Parkway. There I had to change trains and wait for the one to Bath Spa. I sat out the short wait in a shelter where myself and the other passengers silently watched as raindrops rattled the plastic shutters. While there I remembered I’d stored in my backpack a banana and yoghurt that I’d taken from the breakfast buffet at the Oxford youth hostel. This would fill the breach for lunch. Not long after, the familiar sound of a shuddering engine and the clattering of tracks could be heard – the train for Bath had arrived.
Due to having had no access to shampoo or conditioner at the youth hostel I couldn’t wash my hair and so had to resort to using the dry shampoo I’d bought in Oxford. That and the fact the rain that didn’t relent all day resulted in my hair being at its absolute worst (which is really saying something). During the train journey I pulled the can of dry shampoo out of my backpack and due to being lost in thought due to the nature of the trip I was on, it didn’t occur to me that spraying a can of dry shampoo on a train in close proximity to other passengers might cause a problem. After several short blasts from the canister I received a short blast myself from the seat behind me as a man who was subjected to several sudden gusts of dry shampoo gasped for breath and swiftly requested I halt my impromptu hair salvage operation. Turning around I apologised profusely before sheepishly sinking back into my seat. Another life lesson learned, I resolved to try being an unobtrusive presence for the remainder of the journey – avoiding gassing anyone else with my dry shampoo would be a start.
Clutching my backpack to my chest I watched as the golden country kingdom of Somerset eased into view. Any minute now I would be in Bath. ‘Another Town, Another Train’ in the words of the song by ABBA. Except Bath isn’t just another town. It’s a unique place rich in Roman history. Suddenly there was an announcement over the intercom, “We will shortly be arriving at Bath Spa. Next station, Bath Spa”.
Stepping off the train and onto the platform with the other passengers I watched as they quickly left me for dust. I hung back, transfixed by the images flashing through my mind of Inga’s arrival in the same station some three decades previously. Having studied a photo of the platform and station as it was in April 1988 I was amazed to see how little had changed. It was as if the frenetic pace of change that had wrought such developments and differences on the rest of the world in the interim had forgotten to include Bath in the supposed pursuit of progress. It was eerie to see how little had changed. It would soon become more eerie still.
I made my way along the platform until suddenly I noticed a small tourist centre to my left. Spontaneously entering this quaint-looking kiosk I asked the lady on duty for advice on where to visit in Bath. The only documented evidence Inga had been in Bath was her diary entry, “Decided to go to Bath”. What she actually did while she was there has been sadly lost in the mists of time. But she had gone to Bath, and that was why I was here.
When Inga visited Bath she was on a sightseeing trip as a tourist. So I thought I should ask the lady in the tourist centre at Bath Spa station what was the number-one tourist attraction in Bath, as I guessed that to be the most likely place Inga would have gone to after leaving the station. She replied, “The Roman Baths. It’s the single most must-see place in Bath”. So it was to there I headed next.
Chapter 63: The Light That Burned So Brightly
Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Art Garfunkel – ‘Bright Eyes’
It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach The Roman Baths on foot. Along the way I came across a sight that instantly struck me as being very familiar. It was a park that had a circular path, trees and wooden huts with buildings encircling it. Having never been to Bath before in my life, and having never even looked at any photos of Bath apart from a photo of the train station which I had included in one of the early parts of The Keeley Chronicles, for a moment I could not understand why this particular scene looked so familiar. But I couldn’t stop looking at it, it just seemed so familiar.
Then suddenly it dawned on me.
She had taken a photo capturing this very scene. It had been imprinted on my subconscious mind from the moment I saw it and now the memory of it was being triggered by my unwittingly arriving at the same place. I took several photos of the view from this vantage point and upon later comparing the photos I took with the one Inga took in 1988 it was remarkable to me that, just as I had found at Bath Spa train station, how little had changed after 30 years. But more significant was that I now knew she had been at this exact spot, and given that it was directly along the route to The Roman Baths and roughly five minutes’ from there on foot I felt it even more likely now that she had visited The Roman Baths after all, the place where I had taken a blind gamble on her having been. I listened to Belinda Carlisle’s song ‘Circle in the Sand’ as I walked. The words of this song, a hit single in the UK and Ireland in May 1988, the month after Inga died, provided a fittingly symbolic soundtrack… “Anywhere you go, we are bound together. I begin where you end, some things are forever”.
I would have liked to explore the park but darkness was descending and The Roman Baths wouldn’t remain open for much longer. Plus, I was still going to have to find out how to get all the way from Bath in Somerset to Preston in Lancashire which was halfway up the country, in order to catch the connecting train to Inverness. I had banked on being able to sleep on the train to Scotland as Inga had, otherwise I would have to sleep on a train station bench which would ruin the chronology that I was determined to follow to the letter or at least as much as possible. So I resumed walking and soon reached Bath Abbey. I made my way in and sat on a pew roughly halfway inside the vast stained glass-clad church. It was very grand, very cold and very empty – characteristics that nowadays all churches seem to share.
After a couple of minutes in the abbey I lost interest in it, and so I stepped outside. There was a market in full flow and hordes of people were coming and going, noisily circulating a succession of stalls. But my mind kept returning to the source of the cause… She almost certainly had been in this same place. I was struck by the sight of people walking around seemingly without a care in the world. They were walking around here where Inga had almost certainly once been and life was carrying on as normal – except she had spent the past thirty years in a grave and her killers had spent the interim living, working, procreating. And getting. Getting a home. Getting their hole. Getting away on holiday. Getting away with murder. Where is the justice in that? That cannot be right. And this cannot go on.
Chapter 64: Reaching Into the Night
Is it a kind of a shadow?
Reaching into the night
Wandering over the hills unseen
Or is it a dream?
There’s a high wind in the trees
A cold sound in the air
And nobody ever knows when you go
And where do you start
Oh, into the dark
Art Garfunkel – ‘Bright Eyes’
I stood for a few moments in the courtyard of Bath Abbey. It was getting dark. Next I headed for the entrance to The Roman Baths. I paid for a ticket and went inside. It was full of historical exhibits of ancient archaeology and led into a large underground area of tunnels and dark spaces. I wandered through the museum and the baths trying to ‘get into it’ and experience it like any other tourist visiting here for the first time but all I could think of was her. The thought of her being here and her every step unwittingly leading her ever closer to disaster across the water just a couple of days later. I then entered some sort of steam room that had archaeological significance. My having arrived so close to closing time meant there was no one else around. Suddenly out of nowhere I started crying. The emotional intensity involved in retracing her footsteps was now really beginning to bite.
I walked through another underground tunnel and there in a dark corner lay a number of carved stone exhibits. Just past these was a large computer screen that gave a presentation about something called the Bath Curse Tablets. Curse tablets I would learn are small metal sheets inscribed with curses against specific people and were used in popular magic throughout the Roman world. These tablets dated from the second to fourth centuries A.D. However the inscriptions on the tablets were not published in full until – of all years – 1988, by the historian Roger Tomlin. One particular inscription immediately stood out to me. It read:
Do not allow sleep or health to him who has done me wrong…
The words struck me as being eerily-appropriate.
The words “Do not allow sleep or health to him who has done me wrong” had echoes of something else in relation to Inga. In her rendition of the ancient English folk song ‘Greensleeves’ Inga sang the words, “You do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously”. As I stood in The Roman Baths where she had likely visited two days before she was murdered I thought of what she might think if she was aware of all that had happened – and more to the point, all that hadn’t happened – since the night she was murdered. I think it’s reasonable to assume that in the event of there being such a thing as heaven, and if Inga is ‘up there looking down’ as some say, she would have to be horrified at how things have turned out. That her murder would remain unsolved 31 years on at the time of writing. That those responsible for her attack and murder would all these years later still not have yet seen the inside of a courtroom let alone a prison cell. That her dad would die without seeing justice and without ever getting to be aware of any of the developments in his daughter’s case that have occurred in recent years. That her mother would succumb to a very serious illness, denying her the chance to be able to comprehend the significant developments in her daughter’s case and that would entail her being unable to ever comprehend justice being done, if and when justice is done. That Inga’s reputation would at one point be dragged through the mud with a sordid slew of scurrilous allegations being concocted to form the basis of tabloid articles. In the light of all that, if her spirit was somehow aware of all that has happened – and that hasn’t happened – since 1988 how could she be anything other than horrified? How could anyone ‘Rest in peace’ in those circumstances?
After leaving The Roman Baths I made my way back to the train station. It had been a long day, and it was set to be an even longer night. Since waking in Oxford at 7am in the morning, I had already been to Oxford city centre, New Marston, Headington, Didcot Parkway, Bath Spa and The Roman Baths. My next destination was Bristol, where Inga had had a very short stopover in the process of making a train connection on her way to the North of England. However in Bath Spa station upon my making enquiries at the ticket office regarding the various options I had of reaching Preston and travelling towards Inverness that night, I encountered an unpleasant member of rail staff named Marek who berated me when he learned I was basically making up my travel plans as I went along. This same member of rail staff informed me that it would be “impossible” to make the sleeper train to Inverness with my only leaving Bath at 7pm in the evening. He also said my Interrail pass would not be enough for me to travel on the sleeper train anyway. It turned out that all seats on the sleeper train need to be specifically reserved, which was something I was not aware of beforehand. Furthermore he claimed that all of the seats on the sleeper train appeared to be fully booked-up so reserving me a seat would not be possible. “And why do you want to go to Preston anyway? And what the hell are you doing going all the way to Inverness?!” he unhelpfully whined. In the spirit of Inga I decided to gamble and set off for Bristol anyway…
TO BE CONTINUED
May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&© 2019. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 23
This instalment is dedicated to Lyra McKee, whose cowardly murder by dissident republicans during a riot in Derry occurred as I was completing this part of the blog. Lyra was a friend, author, fearless journalist and beacon for LGBT people everywhere. I met her through my work on Inga’s case and will always remember her as the most happily-in-love person I ever had the pleasure to meet. I have her to thank for putting me in touch with George Caskey and for her kind offer to pass on the manuscript of my book to one of her publishers. RIP Lyra xxxx
Photography by Inga-Maria Hauser ©1988 & Keeley Moss ©2018
Bright Eyes written by Mike Batt. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC ©1979