Popped Clog: Mira Hindley
In support of the BBC's Children In Need appeal, Myra Hindley - smoker, lesbian, Catholic, multiple child murderer - has died. She was 60.
15 November 2002
'She thought he was quite an intellectual as he sat in the lunch room reading Mein Kampf in German.'
Brady looks up, flashes the young Hindley a dark and suggestive smile, Hindley goes weak at the knees, her cheeks flush, Brady leaps to his feet, delivers a brisk Hail Hitler salute to the cafeteria, throws Hindley over his shoulder, and they rush back to Brady's flat to try on lederhosen.
And the rest, as they say, is history. This dynamic between Hindley (controlled) and Brady (controlling) is turning into received wisdom. Moments after Myra's death, the BBC printed the following words as part of her obituary:
'Until then, [meeting Brady] Hindley had been, by all accounts, a perfectly normal girl, with strong religious feelings. She loved children and animals, and was much in demand as a babysitter. She was, like most teenage girls, highly romantic, and became infatuated with Brady. She wrote in her diary: 'I hope he loves me, and will marry me some day. When they became lovers, Hindley was prepared to do anything Brady asked. So when, in July 1963, he told her he wanted to rape a 16-year-old neighbour, Pauline Reade, Hindley agreed to lure the teenager up to the moors. Pauline was killed, and Hindley helped Brady to bury her body.'
This is an undisguised, and frankly nauseating, apologetic for Hindley. According to the BBC, until the influence of Brady kicks in, Myra had been 'perfectly normal' - strongly religious even - she 'loved children and animals' - and was constantly helping out her neighbours by babysitting. A veritably saintly child. And what, ultimately, is her downfall? Simply this: to be overly 'romantic' - to fall in love. She became 'infatuated' - love made her blind. We can almost see her hugging her diary to her heaving bosom after writing 'I hope he loves me, and will marry me some day'.
So, she is infatuated, and Brady takes advantage of her love. Hindley, we are told, was 'prepared to do anything Brady asked'. And what might that be? Rub his feet? Mow the lawn? Do the housework naked? Not quite: 'he told her he wanted to rape a 16-year-old neighbour' and 'Hindley agreed to lure the teenager up to the moors'. Pauline Reade was raped and killed, and Hindley helped bury her.
Gosh, she must have loved her Ian. Greater love hath no woman than to lure a teenager to her death, and spade some mud on her corpse.
This pathetic apologetic for Hindley, which so gallantly strips her of any moral responsibility, is employing what might be termed 'Star Wars Ethics'. According to this portrayal, Brady is to Myra Hindley what The Emperor is to Darth Vader: charismatic; alluring; a dark, fiendish, controlling force. It's possible to see the entire Star Wars series as an extended mitigation for the badness of Vader. Anakin Skywalker was just a little bit hot-headed. Impetuous. His mother died in his arms: that can't have been easy. Difficult upbringing. Manipulated and guided by the unfathomable evil of The Emperor. His true nature crushed, denied. Then, at the point of death, he converts to the good and is forgiven. Luke gives him the last rites, and Vader is whisked off to heaven to stand at the right hand of Yoda.
The evil of Vader is a nurtured evil. The evil of The Emperor is evil itself, pure evil, natural evil. Unforgivable evil. Hindley we can forgive. Brady we cannot.
We can forgive Myra because she, like the young, impetuous, 'romantic' Anakin Skywalker, was led astray. She was blighted by tragedy at an early age, with the drowning of her friend Michael Higgins. Brady came along and her natural goodness was crushed. She knew not what she did. And then she died in a state of blessedness, so it's all alright in the end.
No. Not fine. Perhaps it is because the idea of a female taking the life of a child is so abhorrent that we slide the blame across the table into Brady's lap. Perhaps it is easier to think of Brady being the monster, the motivator, the killer, the charmer, the persuader, the one responsible. Or perhaps it is because Hindley had a very public religious conversion, and we want to give her the benefit of the doubt. But whatever we say about the relationship between Hindley and Brady, it is not enough to say 'she was in love' and that Brady somehow forced her into it.
Hindley lured a young girl to be raped, who was then killed. This is not an act of love. It is an act of murder. And it is a gross insult to the memory of the individuals Hindley and Brady killed to excuse her part in these grotesque acts as the result of girlish, foolish, weak-mindedness.
It does not take a weak mind to ignore the pleas of a girl who is being tortured to death. 'I want to see my mummy' she cried. It took a very strong-minded woman to hear that and do nothing.