For a moment, and for the last time I promise, I want to talk about the sordid world of Martin Eager - the violent, paedophile councillor who has just resigned from Ledbury Town Council.
In his sickening resignation letter, Eager says he had seen 'town council staff coming to work with dread and in tears, because of a "toxic" climate... I did not join the council to witness staff crying their eyes out because they dreaded going into work.'
If he is to be believed, this would not be the first time this evil man has witnessed people crying their eyes out in fear and dread.
Let us picture the scene as he tightened his hands round the neck of his slightly built wife and shook her like a rag doll, and punched her repeatedly, telling her he was going to fucking kill her. She was probably crying her eyes out. Think about his thirteen year old ex-step daughter having to endure the most awful sexual abuse - she told the police he had done 'disgusting things' to her, that he was a 'perv', probably while crying her eyes out. Imagine the tears of shame and rage of that mother having to listen to her daughter explaining in horrifying detail to police officers and to the court how she had been defiled and degraded by this obese fifty year old man. She had to listen too while her young son's testimony was given; he too was invited into Eager's sex-games and invited to touch the man's penis.
These are the facts that were read out in court. But there are people in Ledbury who say that he did much more, terrible things that never saw the light. Yes we might spare a thought for the daughters' school friends who were party to the abuse, and to their parents having to listen to their harrowing, at that stage, unsubstantiated accounts of domestic physical and sexual abuse. Even now, a decade later there is a cloud of shame and guilt that hangs over these families, that they weren't able to do more to put a stop to the abuse and see Eager behind bars.
Let us now imagine the dread of this family, living in a foreign country, having to go to court each day and relive such unspeakable life-changing experiences in public, even while Eager's posse of Ledbury friends, some of them openly racist, were running round the town saying they were all liars, that the allegations were a pack of lies, that Eager's ex-wife deserved her fate.
Turning up to court on 30 October 2008, this wretched family was told by the judge to go home: the trial was aborted. As they walked from Worcester Crown Court on that chilly autumn day, we might visualise the mother trying her best to be strong, desperate to fight back the bitter tears of rage, injustice and grief so as not to make her children's pain any worse. Confused, she is dimly trying to make sense of a 'mistake' by the Crown Prosecution Service having charged Eager under the wrong legislation, causing the trial to collapse. Was it a genuine mistake? Or was it a deliberate perversion of justice, enacted by Eager's high-placed friends to let him off the hook? Could she face putting her family through a retrial?
Finally, let's try out the toxic climate in which these three vulnerable people had been immersed for months, possibly years: a bullying, abusive home life, a hostile, racist town, an incompetent - or possibly malevolent - judicial system unable, or unwilling, to offer redress. Just for a moment, imagine the parting glance of ex-Mrs Eager boarding the plane to go home, looking out over the bleak concrete expanse below, choking back the bitter tears. What would she be thinking about Ledbury? About her adoptive home, Britain?
These three lives were emotionally destroyed by a man who walked away scot-free, completely unrepentant, who was sheltered and later welcomed back into respectable society by his friends in the Ledbury establishment.
A few hundred voters in the North Ward of Ledbury voted for him at the 2015 election, many unaware of his crimes, but some, shamefully willing to condone his monstrous behaviour. In 2009 after the abortive trial, a previous town council had co-opted him back into its ranks amid warm words and friendly handshakes: Keith Francis, Mary Cooper, Clive Jupp, Paul Winter, Allen Conway, Rob Yeoman, Tony Bradford: you were all there to welcome him back. And the town? Where was Ledbury when he took his seat as a committee chair in charge of play equipment, youth projects and family amenities? It took another decade to have his disgrace acknowledged.
In its most shameful act, Ledbury Town Council elected Eager Town Mayor in 2017. His cheerleaders included Bob Barnes, Annette Crowe, Tony Bradford, Elaine Fieldhouse, Jean Simpson, Debbie Baker, Matthew Eakin, Andy Manns. Each one of these people knew full well about Eager's past crimes. And yet it was to Liz Harvey whom they hurled abuse and cheered when Eager insulted in her in the most grossly misogynistic terms. He called her a smelly old cow, and said she was the most disgusting woman he had ever seen. Even writing this makes me feel sick.
Let us not forget the town council staff in this affair too, the Clerk, the Deputy Clerk, the various Clerical Assistants who have all fussed and fawned over Eager, a regular and welcome visitor to the town council offices.
Tears. Dread. Toxic. Three little words which have cast a life sentence over so many innocent lives. Completely disregarded by the amoral guardians of Ledbury's civic affairs, Eager has survived and prospered because of his friends in the rotten, corrupt, sleazy establishment of this town. We must of course point the finger at the Freemasons whom we know are infused with notions of fraternal loyalty, even when confronting the most disgusting behaviour. But there are women too who have chosen to turn a blind eye. Shame on them too.
The people who have given Eager succour over the years - including the local press - are guilty by association. By allowing this paedophile to roam free in public life, they have given solace to bullies, domestic abusers, child abusers, inept and/or corrupt officials everywhere. They have furthered the cause of cruelty, oppression and domination. They have sought to rewrite history in favour of the violent oppressor and cast anyone who challenges them as heinous liars. This is the rancid culture in which Ledbury Town Council has been steeped for ten or more years.
In time the stench of decay might fade. It is to be hoped that Eager crawls off into a dark place and is never heard from again. Nonce: not on communal exercise. Some of his cronies are gone, but a few cling on for now: Francis, Fieldhouse, Bradford in particular. They must go too.
It is fair to say that this affair is a stain on the reputation of Ledbury. At the very least, there needs to be an acknowledgement of the pain that the Town Council has visited on Eager's ex-family by its craven actions, and an apology offered by unanimous motion for sheltering and encouraging him. It must happen soon. It will begin the process of truth and reconciliation.