By Heathcote Williams
One day someone called Barry Trenoweth came over.
His father, Gordon, had been hanged for murder.
He’d killed a shopkeeper in Falmouth during the war
In a robbery that went wrong. A non-starter.
There was only four pounds ten shillings in the till
And Gordon didn’t have the time to buy a drink
Before the police called at 3, Mutton Row, Penryn,
To take him away to Falmouth’s clink.
Gordon Trenoweth was put on trial at Bodmin Assizes
And then hanged at Exeter Jail
By Albert Pierrepoint, the hangman, famous for boasting
Of a “craft” he swore could never fail.
Barry’s mother had suffered a breakdown after
And Barry was sent to an orphanage.
He’d wonder how he got there but was only told,
“You’ll learn when you reach a certain age.”
At eighteen he was summoned by the Warden
Who informed him that he’d had a family
But, the Warden said darkly, due to “circumstances”
They’d had to forfeit their baby.
And his grandmother, a Mrs. Rapson,
Who looked after Barry’s mother, Gladys, left shattered
In a tiny cottage, two-up two-down.
There was no hot water, just an outside tap
And a tin bath in the front room.
Gran heated water from the hob and then poured it in.
They’d turn the TV round so no one saw them.
Barry said he was shocked and distressed by their lives:
They’d been innocent of any criminal action,
Yet their lives were destroyed and his life was scarred
By the law’s vengeful chain reaction.
It was this that drew him to the campaign platform
When he was working in London, in a hotel –
Picking up guests’ shoes at night then polishing them,
“While”, as he put it, “I tried to forget myself.”
Was he, Barry Trenoweth, going to be a murderer?
Was he one day going to be hanged?
Find out at IT: International Times, The Newspaper of Resistance.