We have taken the first steps in creating a milestone resource. This is not only a new resource for the young people we work with but a big milestone for me.
We have been hoping to make this new interview for sometime but the timing had to be right for all involved.
On Saturday 7th July I traveled to Norwich to meet with and interview Jay Wall, one of Lloyd’s convicted murderers who was now released after serving his 12 yr sentence.
I had already met Jay once before and wrote a blog post about the experience. I thought that this time it would be easier…I admit it wasn’t as terrifying and overwhelming as our first meeting but this time we were going to interview Jay, ask in-depth questions and spend the day together.
We had been emailing in the run up and I was thinking of nothing besides what a fantastic new interview this would be and how much it would impact on our young audiences.
Choosing to travel by train was probably an error. Clearly I didn’t learn from my last experience that traveling one your own through a change in busy London en-route to an interview like this was not a good idea. I wished I had traveled up with my colleagues especially after cancelled trains left me stewing on things for some time and a very late arrival feeling exhausted.
I was waiting outside our chosen venue for Jay and thinking if I would remember what he looked like and whether he had changed since his release from prison. With every passing second I felt more anxious, my heart was getting faster, it was dropping beats and I was starting to feel nauseas. After a while he came around the corner and the anxiety vanished. We said hello and nothing felt abnormal about this.
I introduced Jay to my colleagues and we sat down to run over the agenda. Just as he had been at our last encounter he seemed calm and amenable to the whole process and plan for the day.
The interview started with me being asked about Lloyd and the impact on myself and my family. I knew that we wanted to film it in a way that people wouldn’t realise we were sat next to each other until the very end. I’m so used to talking about Lloyd, what happened and the impact on myself but never had I spoken about it in front of Jay. I knew I needed to be honest about everything but it was so hard to share feelings in front of the man who was the reason Lloyd died. Also being unsure of the true events that’s took place that night and not knowing if what we had been told or what we had been telling others was correct! Out of all the interviews I have done, this was by far the most challenging and emotionally difficult one trying not to upset Jay but trying to be honest also. Some people may be thinking ‘why the hell would I even consider Jay’s wellbeing’ but I guess I felt that whatever I was feeling he was probably feeling worse. When we tell Lloyd’s story the audience despise the offenders and never understand why I wouldn’t just want to seek vengeance. The truth is that Jay is hated by so many and unlike with me there is absolutely no sympathy towards him, so for him to be there to share his story and to speak openly to me must have been significantly harder for him than it was for me. People support and offer empathy to me but Jay will only ever be the ‘bad’ one and ‘not deserving of empathy or sympathy’. That must be a very hard thing to live with and to be aware of. If I was hated for something that vehemently, had come to terms with the fact that I had committed this horrendous act, lived with regret for years and for the rest of my life all because of some stupid decision I made when I was 18, I don’t think I could openly talk about it and face one of the people’s who’s life I had devastated and caused so much pain and suffering to. That takes as much courage as it did for me if not more.
We continued the interview and we heard from Jay how he acted that night. The plan was to ask each other how each of us felt hearing what one another had to say. In truth after a while the emotions within me were so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure I was hearing what was being said so it was hard to take everything in and voice feelings. It was very much like being back at the trial following Lloyd’s murder.
When the initially planned interview was complete Jay agreed to share his life with us, growing up in a household where there was a lot of significant domestic violence. It struck me how things changed. How he had in the early days had a happy and normal childhood much the same as my own until his mum married an abusive partner who was not abusive until after they wed and how this man went from a father figure than Jay spent lots of happy times with to being someone he feared. From there it was obvious the impact on him and his family and you could hear the decline in his behaviour. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to go from normality to being woken in the middle of the night to sit with his mum because he was the only thing that would stop her husband beating her black and blue. I imagine some will be horrified by the fact that he was basically used as a shield but I guess if you feared for your life anyone may use whatever means they could to prevent significant pain or death even if that means waking your child in the night to sit with you. I don’t know, I don’t have kids but I know that as a species our response to preserving your life does not usually present rationally and well thought through. We cannot judge unless we have been there and I certainly haven’t experienced that.
Our upbringings from that point were vastley different and I cannot imagine how Jay coped with that. Moving around the country in and out of refuges living with other kids who were in the same situation, all of them negative and self distructive as a product of their early life experiences.
Listening to his story was very thought provoking, saddening and also frustrating to think of how many are going through the same with the end of the road for these kids potentially being the same as it was for Jay and indeed Lloyd and my family who would suffer the fall out of this.
At the end of interviews my colleagues admitted to me that they could relate to my original comments made in my previous blog, when I stated that I realised, after our first meeting, that had I met Jay now without the history we have, I could see that he is the sort of character I could easily see in a friendship group. I think my colleagues were left as conflicted as I was. Again both of them had known of Jay through his life and the incident that resulted in my brothers death and they would have had expectations of the person then were going to be meeting as I had on our first meeting.
I think the oddest thing about it was after the interview when we were all clearing up. Jay stayed to help pack up and even went to get the van with our camera chap and help load the van. We were all chatting and joking as we would in front of anyone else and there was laughter. Jay helped us carry the equipment to the van and made sure we were all ok.
Just before I clambered into the taxi I gave him a hug and said ‘have a good life’. I think that might have thrown him a bit, I know I felt a bit odd about my actions. But before he left he squeezed my arm and said to take care and have a safe journey home.
A very surreal Saturday I must admit and I’m pleased that I can now relax for what’s left of the weekend. Although I think the experience will stick with me for days to come. That said the resources that are going to now be made from this interview will be very powerful and hopefully have a significant impact on the young people we teach. If we can help just one person then it is all worth it, the anxiety, the nausea, the conflict and emotional turmoil.