31 December 2016
To (alphabetically) Dwynwen, Meryl, Paula, Rod, Ros, Stephanie & Steve,
I am writing to you to signal my decision to ‘formally’ withdraw from the circle of friends centring on our group in Cardiff. I have been alienated from a number of you, by ostracism or my own alienation, for some time (in Dwy and Rod’s case, for 28 years) and so this is the end of a process rather than a sudden event. It has however, been precipitated by Meryl’s appalling behaviour towards me in the last 4+ years. The net result has been that I have felt unable to attend the funerals of two people I was very fond of, as they were of me, for fear of there being a socially embarrassing loss of temper with some people present, which would have been unedifying and disrespectful. I have been very hurt by Dwy and Rod’s attitude towards me for a long time, but I am absolutely livid with Meryl for trying to disguise her own misdeeds by discrediting me.
The only reason I am doing this is for Steve’s benefit. We had become very good friends, and Meryl insulted me by imagining I would ever go behind his back to help her solve her sexual ‘problem’. I think he has been hurt enough, and after this letter there will be no more mention of the incident, given certain conditions.
Given the chance, I could have adduced a lot of testimony to support my conclusion that Meryl was coming on to me, not once but twice. I have known her for 51 years and recognise every nuance of her facial expression. I am a social psychologist, with a very good grasp of nonverbal communication signs, which I lectured on for many years: including expression, gaze, posture, kinesis, tone and speed of speech, body language and other indicators of emotion and attraction. Not to mention her frequent looking over her shoulder to see if Steve had come into earshot. I have had a number of relationships with women in the last 54 years (a point which doesn’t need to be spelled out in this company), and I clearly recognise when someone is coming on to me, it’s obvious, even if they are unaware of the signals they are sending.
I used the word testimony because it is doubly appropriate. This issue is over four years old, and so there are only recollections to go on, but mine are very clear indeed, I have replayed it in my mind so many times. The scenario was vivid: I was placed in a very difficult situation with a friend of very long standing, who I had great affection for, who I owed a great deal to, for her support, when it was not forthcoming from other people.
She said to me (and this is verbatim) “David, I need your help and advice. I haven’t had proper sex for three years, since Steve’s operation, and I’m screaming up the wall with frustration. I need your help and advice”. I tried to supply what she asked for (“help and advice”), from my recent long period of celibacy, but it became clear to me that this was barely considered, and the phrase was just a formulaic device, designed to avoid responsibility and guilt by somehow getting me to make the suggestion of sex. That was never going to happen, firstly because of my affection for Steve (and a lot of empathy: I have had a benign prostate tumour since 2002, and they can become malignant), and secondly because there has not been a sexual dimension to my relationship with Meryl for over 40 years! I want to make it clear that there was absolutely no ego involved in the situation, quite the reverse: it was not at all flattering to be approached to participate in duping Steve, for what I imagined would not be a full affair, but a kind of instrumental coupling to serve a purely physical purpose. Why me? Well I don’t know if it was only me , but I was the perfect soft target, a known quantity, not a stranger from the Net, or a risky acquaintance from the village or the school; and I would have exactly the same concern about secrecy, because of the opprobrium that would be heaped on both parties by people sympathetic to Steve, if it were discovered. I filled the bill perfectly with one exception: I didn’t want to; I left as soon as I decently could, I didn’t want to put her down, so I didn’t say “I know what you’re driving at, but the answer is no”, just hoped she’d realise my feelings by my not saying anything, without having an emotional scene. But she followed it up by phone a week or so later with an almost exact repeat performance “I want your help and advice” over and over again, hardly stopping to consider the advice as I gave it.
I am sure she felt very badly after these encounters. And I’m not going to put words into her mouth, but it looks very much to me as though she feared I would tell other people and it could ruin her reputation with them. Therefore she set about discrediting me in the two classic ways that witnesses are discredited in court: calling them either a liar or mentally disturbed. She repeatedly called me a liar (which, in the light of my recollections of some of her deceptions, is rich indeed), on the flimsiest and most illogical grounds. And she persistently maintained that I was in a manic episode (which of course could have caused me to embark on a sexual adventure: but I wasn’t, according to people who have actually seen me in that state (Meryl hasn’t) and who would know the difference; and experts who actually know about Psychiatry having trained for 7 years, not simply done a few weeks’ Relate course). She held on to her ‘diagnosis’ for at least a couple of years, and has never rescinded it. For the record, I was emotional but never even hypomanic. I have had no recurrence of bipolar disorder for 24 years, and the combined verdict of a Psychiatrist, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, a Clinical Psychologist and two GPs is that the medication should be gradually withdrawn, as it was no longer necessary, and I am now on 25% of the original dose. And since you ask, I am happy, more than content with my post-marital state, mentally balanced and robust, and enjoying one of the most productive periods of my life. And this is despite the stress of having one of my oldest and best friends attempt a character assassination.
My decision to withdraw from you all, is really only putting the full stop at the end of the sentence. But in another sense it is not. It is also a loud complaint against all of you, who are in a real sense complicit in what Meryl has been doing. What you have done, even if you were not fully aware of it, has been to conduct an informal kangaroo court, in effect, a trial by gossip, misrepresentation and old prejudices, in which the virtually pre-ordained guilty verdict has been reached without any opportunity for me to defend myself. You are all decent people of goodwill, liberals, socialists, etc, and yet you let me suffer a ‘justice system’, by default, that any Third World dictator would give his right arm for. Inevitably I have lost both affection and respect for each of you, perhaps with the exception of Steve, who is the truly innocent party, but is bound by his vows and his wish to protect his wife, whatever she has done.
To show how serious this has become, I formulated a strategy, which came to mind 18 months ago when I attended George Davis’s final (successful) appeal against the original conviction for the LEB robbery. At the party afterwards I spent most of the time talking to Michael Mansfield QC who had represented George throughout (we were the only two educated, middle class people there, you won’t be surprised to learn). Making a long story short: he offered to represent me, for expenses only, after I outlined the case against Meryl. George joined us later and offered to cover those expenses: generous but then some of us did commit imprisonable offences to try to get him out, back then. Michael, as you may know, is one of the most experienced and distinguished QCs in the country with a string of big-name victories to his credit, so it is rather a large sledge-hammer to crack a nut, but obviously I wasn’t going to refuse, if I decided to go down that route. I didn’t want to, and instead, through Steve, I let Meryl know that if she summoned up her courage to tell you all the truth about the situation, that would be enough; but also that if she didn’t, I gave her two sequential deadlines, I would then publish an account, probably via social media in the first instance, identifying her by name, and in all the necessary detail (admittedly that would only be an audience of 710 Facebook friends and a rapidly rising 1800 regular blog-readers, but one of my friends has over 8000 followers on Twitter, and there are other media, too). That would then enable her to sue me for libel if she wanted to say I had misrepresented her, or for me to sue her for libel, slander or defamation.
Arduous as this letter has been to write and read, there is so much evidence of deception and fabrication assassi that could be brought out and that would be brought out in my defence, some of it requiring most of you to be called to be cross-examined, with consequent blood on the floor and leakage of past indiscretions and secrets. Nobody would enjoy that, or come out unscathed, including me, so it will be better if that can be avoided. So I am leaving it fallow, a weapon to be used as a last resort – for example, if Meryl’s response to this letter is to pile on more layers of self-justification and misrepresentation.
If you think this is all rather overheated, you may be right, but that is what happens when an injustice is done and the victim is allowed no voice. How would you feel? Imagine that one of the people you have cared about most in the world, for 50 years or so, stabs you repeatedly because she has made a terrible error of judgement.
I just want to say one thing more on the case. If I got it wrong, (and there is more chance of Messi, Ronaldo and Bale all signing for Tottenham next week) and given that I had talked to nobody else who knew any of the people involved anyway (what I think she most feared), why on earth, would she have turned round and savaged me, after a social visit for an altruistic purpose, suddenly and without warning – and kept up the briefing against me for so long afterwards? There has to be a reason, a motivation for this total, 180 degree volte face, in a relationship which was once very passionate, 53 years ago, and has been very affectionate in a completely nonphysical way for the last 40+. Didn’t any of you smell a rat? Wonder what the hell could have happened?
Thank you for your patience. No reply is required. I can only offer peace but not reconciliation, because in my whole life no-one has ever tried to harm me as much and as systematically as Meryl has this last 4 years. I will try and be bigger, and more honest and more considerate than her, for Steve’s sake and not take it any further, unless provoked. I understand people feeling badly towards me for things I have done in the past, (though never for malicious reasons). I simply was not prepared to tolerate Meryl’s sustained malice any longer, the funerals being the straw that broke the camel’s back. Meryl did a very bad thing and has lied, deceived, dissembled and fabricated ever since. And I now realise that it is the third instance of this in our long history.
No good deed goes unpunished, it is said. However potentially brutal the method, my being able to get David into the medical system, when all else had failed, was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. It just felt very good to be able to have paid back a fraction of the huge debt of gratitude I owe him: always there for me, always non-judgemental and supportive, the best friend I ever had or could ever want. So it’s kind of ironic that it was his situation which led me to call in on Meryl and Steve that morning, to confidentially (haha) explore how we, as a group, could support Stephanie in looking after him, if he became ‘invalid’. It was well-meant, but how it has misfired in other ways. If I’m honest, I have a feeling that there is a kind of Venn diagram in which my dispute with Meryl and my prohibition from seeing David, overlap and feed each other somehow. It would be nice if someone could enlighten me. But I won’t hold my breath, because the one thing you are nearly all complicit in is blocking or not supplying basic information about David’s condition, when I have sought it. Shame on you. That has been just plain cruel and therefore I only have the slightest tinge of regret on finally leaving the circle, based on very old, precious memories. If this is what you have become and how little regard you have for me it’s hardly surprising that I don’t feel welcome – or want to be a part of it. Now some of you can breathe a small sigh of relief and Meryl a large one. It’s over.
I’m sorry if this has been an ordeal for you to read, but the author of your misfortune is Meryl, not me. I have, believe it or not, spared you a lot of unpleasant detail, to make it a little shorter: needless to say, the full account can be made available to anyone who wants to read it. I say that in the hope and belief that there will be no need to keep some powder dry for legal proceedings.
I can forgive Meryl the approach – she must have been desperate – but I will not forgive her for the subsequent betrayal and propaganda campaign: there was no need for it other than to cover her own mucky tracks and it has cast a cloud over me for 4 years. For those reasons I will not ever see her again, and she will not be welcome at my funeral.
PS: This is not simply an add-on PS. Having slept on this, I now want to make an offer, which would settle this for ever. I miss David terribly and have railed against my apparent banning order. When Stephanie and I left his father’s funeral she said “You know David really loves you, don’t you? I replied “Well I should hope so, because I really love him”. That’s what I’ve lost, and I care so much more about that than losing a group of friends who have only been friends in name for years and essentially ignored me or worse me. Here’s the offer: If all of you could collectively prevail upon Stephanie to let me see David, one last time, for an hour, I would draw a line under Meryl’s treachery and it will never be mentioned again. All I need is an email from Stephanie suggesting a time and a date. I’m sure it will be devastating, for the last two times I door-stepped him, he didn’t recognise me and subsequently got very angry when I turned up again. One more opportunity is all I’m asking. Then it’s really over. End of.