Dennis Nilsen Killed My Father - Unabridged

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The Remains of the Day

It all started with a scream. I heard it from the top of the road as I made my way home from school. Somehow  I knew it was my mother's pain. It was a scream from nowhere and of unbearable suffering. And it didn't stop. It was 1983 and my mother had just been informed that her lover, my father, missing for over a year, had been discovered: murdered and dismembered and stuffed in two black bin bags in the flat of serial killer Dennis Nilsen. It was an event that would blow lives apart. I was seven and Hell was on it's way.

*

My father, Graham Archibald Allen, was born on the 31st October 1954 in Motherwell, Scotland. He was a healthy, athletic child, raised in a stable home by two strict protestant parents. The youngest of two he grew with attention problems and failed miserably at school. The only thing he excelled at was football, at the age of fourteen making Motherwell's youth team. But Motherwell, not even the promise of professional football, could contain my father. By the age of 15 he had discovered Glasgow, alcohol and cheap prescription drugs. By 17 he was out of school, out of pocket and out of home. Having been laid off by the steel works in Motherwell and with nothing else for it, he made his way down south to London. It was there, 10 years later, that Graham Allen would one night meet another fellow scot by the name of Dennis Andrew Nilsen.This meeting would entwine these two Scotsmen together forever, and the events of that night would eventually go down in British crime and folklore history. One man would be remembered as 'the 14th victim', and the other for carrying out a string of macabre and gruesome murders.

My father arrived in London, penniless, in the late autumn months of 1971. He intended on finding labouring work with one of the many small building contractors who hired workers for cash-in-hand with no questions asked. Like many a young scot before him, Graham Allen hit the city only to find that the tales of easy employment had been greatly exaggerated, and that there were not jobs you could just step into straight off the train. To find employment would still take some effort, and what's more, it would also take a few quid. My father didn't have a few quid. He couldn't buy the early papers which advertised the latest jobs and didn't have the fare to travel to well known pick-up spots. Instead he walked his way into Central London, to the bright lights and the sex shops, a place notorious for runaways and a place where one could make a quick illegal buck and then move on to pastures new.

Whatever happened it didn't happen how my father had imagined it would. From the quiet industrial town of Motherwell, via the shit and pish of Glasgow, he was suddenly slumming it rough in London. Homelessness however wouldn't last long. After making a few contacts he was soon taking advantage of the lenient squatting laws of the time, living in abandoned buildings and stealing electricity from the mains supply. With a roof over his head, warmth and a few quid in his pocket my father suddenly had time to kill, and it wasn't long before he was sucked into the sleazier side of city life: Cheap strong booze and whatever pills were doing the rounds. This time though the pills weren't swallowed down with mouthfuls of beer but whacked up in syringes. It wasn't long after that heroin was on the agenda. Less than a year later, at eighteen years of age, Graham Allen was one of the city's many officially registered heroin addicts. He funded his habit through a mixture of government unemployment money, begging, stealing and robbing tourists around London's West End.

One of My father's regular drinking haunts, and one of the few places he was welcome, was the Kings Head pub in Leicester square. It was there where he met my mother, Lesley Mead, a blond haired blued eyed barmaid employed by her father who was the publican. Within weeks of meeting the two had fallen in love. But it wasn't simple. My mother was already in a relationship and had a child with a well-known local criminal, and so Graham Allen, the young Scot, became a badly kept and barely tolerated secret. But some secrets could not be kept hidden, not even badly, and in early 1975 my mother fell pregnant and nine months later I was born.

If my birth affected anyone it was my step-father. It was he who would raise and provide for me and he who I would call 'Dad' all my life. It was no secret I was not his by blood, but that didn't matter, he loved me with the same indifference as he did my brother and sister. What my birth did change however was home life. Graham Allen was then openly creeping in and out of my mother's bed and for all who knew them they were a sure item. Nevertheless, my father couldn't afford to support three children (two not his own), a woman, and a raging drug and alcohol habit. So more than anything else it was out of convenience that my half-surrogate-family stayed together. It was a fucked up situation for all, but it worked. Kinda.

In 1978 the squat in Liverpool Street where everyone was living was cleaned out. Due to having three young children my mother and step-father were officially rehoused into a two bedroom maisonette on the other side of London. They made the move and set up house together, though by this time their relationship was nothing more than a business arrangement. They slept in separate rooms and led separate lives. My mother's separate life was of course my father, and it was no surprise that this 'separate life' found itself in paying digs less than a hard-on's length away from the new family home. During that year Mum spent every available moment she could with her lover, and like that, with no-one even really noticing, my mother had flown the roost.

Living together in a single room, and without the fear of having to account for the bruises, my parents' relationship took a downward turn. It became very stormy, very violent and very unhealthy. There were substance abuses and infidelities on both sides which led to frequent violent quarrels and separations. For this reason my mother staggered in and out of two lives, returning back to the family home when her face had taken enough punishment or when she was sick of living in a single room with a volatile junkie who spent every spare penny on smack. Back home my mother could stay for minutes, hours, days, or weeks. No-one, not even herself, would know how long for sure. The only certainty was that eventually she'd leave and end up back in Graham Allen's arms.

My memories from this time are very diluted and hazy. I was very young and wasn't aware that these days were the calm before the storm. My memories of my mother are few and far between, and memories of my father are even more fleeting. Other than the night he disappeared I only have three:

1) Finding him unconscious and being taken away by paramedics after a drug overdose.
2) Playing football with him in the street and using dustbins for goalposts.
3) Slashing his wrists open with a meat cleaver during a violent argument with mum

There are a few other memories but they are very vague. I remember a Breton striped top, bleached denim jeans, thin legs, brown hair and a Scottish accent. I'm not even sure if those are real or implanted memories – descriptions of him which I claimed as my own. I just don't know.

*

During the last five years of his life my father was in and out of prison, in and out of rehab, and in and out of life. His living was hard and his addiction was harder – it was completely out of control. He was not just a drug addict he was a junkie. If that wasn't enough he was also halfway to becoming a chronic alcoholic, and with alcohol he got psychotic and even more violent than usual.

The 1980’s only brought more suffering to my father. He was in prison again on charges of heroin possession and was kicked off his drug program. To ensure he still had a heroin substitute to fall back on he took up the hobby of robbing chemists. With his drug habit unstable and drinking ever increased amounts of alcohol the relationship with my mother became ever more unhealthy and violent. On two occasions she ended up in hospital after taking beatings at his hands. The second time this happened was on Christmas day of 1981, when over Xmas dinner my father leaned across to kiss her and instead bit half her nose off. That act summed up their relationship. It was an intense melange of sex, violence and impulsive acts.

*

The night of my father's disappearance in 1982 brought more of the same. I remember him arguing with my mother and demanding money for heroin. He was drunk and cut and she had taken refuge inside the family house. His violent demands took place from outside, standing on the window ledge and shouting through the glass. He was hung up their like some perverse embodiment of Christ, black blood coming out his mouth where he'd punched his own face in, and screaming for my mother's purse. That was the last sight either my mother or I saw of him. Well, that and then finally climbing down before casually skipping the low garden wall and disappearing into the night. That image haunts my mother, and what haunts her even more were her very last words: “Fuck off... and NEVER come back!”

He didn’t.

*

During the year of my father's disappearance, my mother always believed him dead. This wasn't the first time he had disappeared, nowhere close, but it was the first time he had disappeared and hadn't made some kind of contact in the following days. That was a given. Even if it was just to say: 'I fucking hate you, You Cunt! PS: I'm in prison!' Or even worse: 'I fucking hate you, You Cunt! PS: I'm in Scotland!'  But no matter where he ended up he always wrote. This time he never did. My mother just hoped that he had succumbed to a peaceful, painless death and had quietly overdosed somewhere and died alone. Of course, secretly she hadn't given up all hope. I know she hadn't. Somewhere inside her she would have been desperately hoping for her love to return, and probably she still is now.


It was during 1983 that news started breaking across the country of a “House of Horrors” in north London. A man had been arrested there after human remains were found clogging up the drains outside the house in which he resided.. As with the entire country my mother was gripped by this story and followed in shocked interest as the gruesome tale unfolded. It turned out that over a five year period, between two houses in North London, 16 young men had been murdered, dismembered, and disposed of. Of course, my mother never imagined for one moment that her future would be tied up in this bizarre event. The news broke, went from the front pages to the second, from the second to the third, and then faded away completely awaiting the big trial. It was one afternoon during this quiet period that all hell would break loose in my life. That day my childhood would end and something without description would take its place. And as I mentioned: It Started With a Scream.

*

I never did make it into see My mother that day. Before I was even in the front yard a neighbour had gathered me up and was leading me clear from the wreckage. All I saw was the police car parked outside, my open front door, and a view down the hallway and out back into the kitchen. Sitting at the table where my dinner should have been were two uniformed police officers, and standing just back from them were two men in suits. My mother was out of sight, just a piercing noise that cut through the next ten years.

Inside my neighbour's I was soon joined my my elder sister and my younger brother. We all sat there, in the late afternoon, in a living room which wasn't ours, and as our mother's world collapsed two doors down we stared blankly at depressing cartoons on the TV, waiting for news and to be given permission to go home and see mum. I don't know how long we stayed there. I don't remember too much more of that afternoon. My next memory is of waking up, it then being dark outside, and my brother and sister fast asleep on the couch. Sitting up I sensed something was broken. Maybe the night? It was open and alive with lights and noises and worried voices. The adults were up, and in and out: we were all waiting for something.

How long we remained at our neighbour's, or what state Mum was in when we finally saw her, I can't recall. I don't remember seeing her at all that night although I know I must have. I imagine that the adults took care of her, kept a close eye as she drowned out the pain with alcohol and waited until my stepfather finally arrived home in the small hours of the morning to sit with her. All I know is that in the morning my mother's bedroom door was closed and the house was a few tones darker. My mother had barricaded herself up inside. It was my stepfather who explained what had happened. He was in shock too. He wasn't Graham Allen's greatest supporter (he had lost his woman to him) but regardless, Allen had made up a part of his criminal gang and they had worked together robbing tourists in London for the past ten years. So my step-father told us the news, but not even he could tell us about Mum and how her world had imploded.

When I was old enough to be worth telling, or when mum was drunk enough to be able to tell it, she explained the day of the scream.

She was in the kitchen preparing our dinner when there was a knock on the door. She opened up to find two plain clothes detectives, a uniformed policeman and a police woman standing on the doorstep. They confirmed her name and asked if she knew a Graham Archibald Allan. Initially she thought he had been found alive and was in trouble again. She let the police in and led them out back into the kitchen where she began attending to the potatoes.

“So what's he fucking done this time?”

It was somewhere here that the police told her to sit down and then explained that a skull had been found and from the dental records it had been positively identified as that of her lover. It had been retrieved from Cranley Gardens: 'The House of Horrors' in Muswell Hill. My mother says she doesn’t recall anything else after that. I suppose that's when she began screaming and her noise drifted on up to me, wandering down the road home from school. During that time there wasn’t police counselling or shock support, and so my mother was told the news and then left to scream the pain away with only the neighbour left to try and calm her. How she didn't try to commit suicide that night or the following days is a mystery. Though soon she would. As time ate away at her and she dulled her brain with vodka and martini, death and the desire to die crept closer. Very soon suicide would be the House Speciality. My brother, sister and I would be the only forces to stop it. For a while we tried, and then we just didn't care.


That Fateful Night

We know what happened before the murder, and we know what happened after, but no one really knows for sure exactly what were the last few hours of my father's life. At the pick up and the actual scene of my father's death there were only two witnesses: One is dead, and the other doesn’t recall much. From what I can piece together they would have went something like this:

My father skips the wall and heads into the centre of town. He somehow gets money, scores heroin around Piccadilly, has a few too many drinks and decides to head home. As he wanders down Shaftsbury Avenue in Soho he is accosted by Mr Nilsen. Nilsen, seeing my father's drowsy state decides to try his luck. He offers him the promise of more alcohol, a warm taxi ride, a bed for the night and something to eat. My father, probably with sinister intentions of his own, accepts. They arrive at Nilsen's north London flat at around one o’clock in the morning. Here’s what Nilsen describes as taking place:

“the thing he wanted more than anything was something to eat. I had very little supply in but I had a whole tray of eggs. So I whipped up a large omelette and cooked it in a large frying pan, put it on a plate and gave it to him. He started to eat the omelette. He must have eaten three-quarters of the omelette. I noticed he was sitting there and suddenly he appeared to be asleep or unconscious with a large piece of omelette hanging out of his mouth. I thought he must have been choking on it but i didn’t hear him choking – he was indeed deeply unconscious. I sat down & had a drink. I approached him, I can’t remember what I had in my hands now – I don’t remember whether he was breathing or not but the omelette was still protruding from his mouth. The plate was still on his lap – I removed that. I bent forward and I think I strangled him. I can’t remember at this moment what I used... I remember going forward and I remember he was dead.... If the omelette killed him I don’t know, but anyway in going forward I intended to kill him. An omelette doesn’t leave red marks on a neck. I suppose it must have been me.”

Nilsen then undressed my father, masturbated over him (he denies having sex with the body) and then moved him to the bathroom where he laid his body in the tub. He left him there for three days. During this time Nilsen would continue to wash, brush his teeth and do his toilet in the presence of my father's dead body.

On the fourth day Nilsen removed my father's body from the bath. He laid a plastic sheet on the floor, dumped the body on it, and systematically dismembered it. First he cut off the head, and then the hands and the feet. Next he opened up the torso and removed the internal organs. With the insides removed Nilsen severed the body at the waist and removed the arms. He disconnected the legs from below the knee. During the following days he gradually diced the flesh and flushed it down the toilet. To dispose of my father's head he boiled it for hours in a large pot on the stove. The skull with the flesh boiled from it, and my father's bones, were placed in two black bin bags, tied and stored in the cupboard. And that's where they remained. Nilsen was apprehended before he had the chance to get rid of them, though not before he had the chance to kill one final victim. I suppose my father's post-mortem claim to fame is that it were his body parts which were discovered blocking the drains of Nilsen's apartment building and which led to Nilsen's arrest. It's not a great historical footnote, but it's better than most.

I have explained the death in detail not for shock value or to be crude, but to give some idea of the horrendous news which was forced upon my mother that afternoon. I know the relationship between My mother and father was violent and unhealthy, but it was still love, and as we know, love is often twisted and never a logical emotion.

*

The months immediately after the death are vague. I hardly recall a thing. I think my mother was shell-shocked and maybe only thoughts of revenge kept her alive. She stayed locked in her room, the house growing darker, and alcohol keeping her afloat. My next proper memories of the event come during the build up to the trial.

The case was all over the papers again and there were journalists coming daily to our door. My father was the only victim they didn't have a clear recent picture of and they were offering up to two thousand pounds for a photo. It was during this time that we really discovered all the facts of what had happened. It would be the catalyst which pushed my mother into the abyss.

The last sane thing, or the first insane thingmy mother did was to attend Nilsen's trial at The Old Bailey. She had been warned by journalists not to attend as there would be gruesome stuff on display directly related to her lover's death. Mum ignored all warnings. I think more than anything she was there to try and reconcile something in her head, that she wanted to see Nilsen, the monster who had done this, and at least be able to soothe herself with the knowledge that he was a complete psychopath and what had happened wasn't preventable. Only Nilsen wasn't the monster she had imagined. In fact she said he looked “plain and normal” that- staring at him gave no hint to what he had done. There was no reconciling what had happened with the man who had done it – Nilsen looked as normal and commonplace as the judge. It wasn't a monster on trial but a human being, and then it made even less sense. My mother never hung about for the verdict. She left halfway during the fourth day of the trial, after my father's skull and the saucepan Nilsen had boiled his head in were brought before The Crown as evidence. It would be more than twenty years later that her sanity would finally catch up to her.

Post-trial I remember my mother drinking suicidal amounts. Drunk she would do nothing but cry and sit on the floor alongside a small stereo listening to old love songs and staring at the tender of her wrists. With the story now out of the media the victims' families were left at home alone without even the small comfort of the nation's empathy to help absorb the event. There were no more journalists offering comfort as they scavenged the victims for scraps of untold story, and no more newspaper reports mentioning their names and telling of their plight. It was over. The murderer was in jail and other news was more important. The victims now only had the torture of solitude and silence to take comfort from, and that was no comfort at all. My mother's drinking and suicidal tendencies spiralled to a climax. She could no longer take it any more. She decided that The Blackout was for her.

*

It was one afternoon, during the summer of 1985 that I saved my mother's life. I was only young and I was only coming home for lunch and I was only just in time. Fifteen minutes later and I would have found her dead and then I don't know what I would have done. As it happened I found her worse than dead: I found her dying. And that is an even more brutal and traumatising thing to see.

I remember the house was dark. But a weird darkness, more a sense of it, like how you feel when a door is shut that should be open. There was also no smell of food and that was strange as well, as I was home to have lunch and then return to school. I peered up the stairs. My mother's bedroom door was closed and the the landing outside was in darkness. I called out but there was no reply. Hungry I dumped my bag and headed into the kitchen to make a sandwich. With two slices of bread spilled out on the table I took a healthy knifeside of Peanut Butter and began spreading it. As I did so I heard a noise. It was faint. I stopped what I was doing and listened. There it was again, drifting down from upstairs, and sounding like someone in the midst of troubled dreams. I laid the knife down and followed the sound down the hallway and upstairs. Outside my mother's room I stopped and listened. Coming from the other side of the door was the same murmuring noise, only this time clearer and with the added sound of wheezing air or something. I knocked on the door and called out to Mum. There was no answer, just the same groaning noises as before. I knocked once again and with no reply I opened the door and froze. Covering the floor was broken glass, empty Martini bottles and hundreds of dropped tablets. And then I saw her, Mum, sprawled out on the bed, her eyes faintly open, and bright white foam frothing up and out of her mouth. She wasn’t conscious. I knew that much. I didn’t call or touch her. I couldn't bare to. Laying there like that something disgusted me about her and scared me right through to the bones. That was my mother and she was hurting and not well and maybe even dead. I turned and scarpered, off to get some help.

I can't remember what happened or what I said after knocking on my neighbour's door. What I do remember is her pushing past me and sprinting off, two doors down, and into my house. Moments later she was back, passing me without a word, down her hallway and straight to the telephone. At that moment my step-father arrived. He had been in the betting shop and on returning must have seen me upset outside my neighbour's and her rushing from our house into hers. Having called an ambulance the neighbour came out to meet my step-father. She pulled him aside and frantically told him something. Together they rushed back to be with my mother.

I wasn't allowed upstairs. I was ordered to stay down and outside. My job was to wave the ambulance in just so they didn't drive by or do something silly like that. After more than an eternity the ambulance finally arrived. Three paramedics stomped in the house past me and up the stairs. There was some commotion, paramedics leaving and returning with equipment and a stretcher, but my mother wasn't brought out. I didn't know what they were doing. Ambulances were supposed to get people to hospital quickly. It turned out they had to pump my mother's stomach on the spot and fight to keep her heart going. After a while they stretchered her unconscious body down the stairs and out into the ambulance. I really thought she was dead. My last vision was of her laying in the back of the ambulance, just her head visible outside a thick red emergency blanket, and white foam still frothing out her mouth. Then the back doors of the ambulance swung closed and it pulled off, the sirens flashing and wailing as it went into the distance.

I wasn't taken home. Instead I was once again left with the neighbour while my step-father went to remove my brother and sister early from school. When he returned he dropped them off and then left to make a meeting he had for the evening. Once again we were left waiting with our neighbour, this time for news if mum would live or die. In the early evening we got news. Mum was extremely ill but would survive. The hospital said that if she had have been found just fifteen minutes later that she would have already been dead. It made us all cry. It was too close, and at that moment in history we all loved our mother dearly.

Mum passed five days in intensive care, and remained in hospital for almost three weeks. She had been pumped and resuscitated so intensely that her entire chest and stomach was one huge bruise. I remember the day of her release, us collecting her and being happy that she was sober and seemed clear in words and look. She was frail and so we took a short bus ride home. Her sobriety wouldn't last long. That same night she got paralytic drunk, fell off the toilet and split her head open. My brother sister and I dragged her body into the bedroom and pulled her up on the bed. That's when we knew that all was not fine, that there would be more ambulances and more anxious waits. Over the next seven years she would attempt suicide on at least ten occasions; twice very earnestly. It got so bad that we had to hide all the knives (and forks) in the house. We spent the next few years on permanent suicide watch.

That episode, and my mother's then chronic alcoholism, highlights some of the knock-on effects that the murder had in our household. It shows the secondary victims. It also shows what became of my childhood, and just how far the murder had affected my mother. For my part I hold no ill will towards Nilsen. I'm honestly not sure life would have been any less traumatic if my father was around. And anyway, we cannot spend our time pondering the butterfly effect of our own and everyone else's actions. If we did we'd never move an inch, and even that would probably hurt some poor soul. They're not my reflections as a conscientious adult either. I have never felt ill will towards Nilsen, and I’ve never blamed him for my mother's alcoholism and the hell which that conjured up. After everything, we still determine our own actions. My mother choose the bottle; it didn’t come to her. It’s the same with me: I choose the needle. We must live and die by our swords. We cannot blame our enemy for us taking up arms. That is a bitter and all consuming road to take.

My mother's repeated suicide attempts very nearly led to me, my brother and sister being taken away and placed into Council Care. If it wasn’t for the stability that my stepfather offered we would have surely been carted off, separated, and brought up by middle-aged religious nuts as their ticket into Heaven. Fortunately, just as much for them, that didn't happen. Another thing that didn't happen was mum looking after us. From that point on my mother would stop being a permanent fixture in our lives. She would spend the next few years drifting from bottle to bottle, from lover to lover, searching for a man who no longer existed. Each time she found escape in someone he would mistreat her. She'd return home skint, covered in blood, and with a big bag of rattling vodka bottles. For a while she'd stay and then without warning she'd be gone. Just like before, no-one knew where, and no-one knew if she'd ever return again.

My mother's behaviour followed me all the way through my young and teenage years. As I grew older I learnt how to cope with her better, but unlike my sister I was never able to ignore her completely. I always had that lingering fear that the day I did would just be the day she was for real and my punishment for turning her away would be to have her death on my conscience. And so I stuck with her, as did my brother, phoning ambulances twice a week after fake suicide claims. But it wasn't all bad. There were also some good times and some fun memories – like the time she punched out my least favourite teacher. In the midst of all the perversity there were still moments of love and joy, and even odd days where I could be a child again. They were precious days, and it's those that mean the most.


The Me-effect – The By-product of Murder

After the death of my father I was all that was left of him. In my mother's eyes I was him. My brother and sister were from different blood and as a result my mother's attentions turned mostly towards me. This caused jealousy between my siblings and our relationship secretly soured as my mother heaped her drunken affections my way. Little did they know, they were the lucky ones. My life had become horrendous. My mother would keep me besides her at all times. I would wrestle knives out her grasp, watch her drink her death, see her break down, attempt suicide, and watch her fuck her way through a myriad of different men. She would also call me to her room, and in tears claim she was dying from terminal cancer and had only months to live. It was all unwanted attention. I didn't want to be my mother's favourite. Still, I was a boy and I loved my mother and I would have defended her to death. She was untouchable, and she still is.

Concerning my heroin addiction the actual murder has little direct association with it, but the physical death of my father and his image I began to compete with did. I am the by-product of murder, but not the product. Some of the problems I have are the waste fluid from that event.

In many ways I have (unintentionally) given my mother back what she lost. I have recognised her needs and fulfilled them. I have become a cleaner, non-violent version of my father. I am him without his worst faults. I have become a more rounded version of the man my mother loved. Yes, I'm a heroin addict, but even that gave my mother something back which she had lost. I doubt she enjoyed seeing me sticking needles in myself, but in a way it was like having my father back and sitting there all over again... a confirmation that he still lived on in some physical form.

Heroin, and the kind of image that gives off, is a part of the reckless, wild side of boys which my mother has always fallen for. She has never praised me for taking heroin, but in her reactions to it and to the footstep's that led me there, I sensed an admiration. And it wasn't just heroin. My wilder acts have always gained my mother's attention. And though she would scold my actions, there was always a little sparkle in her eye. The way she would report the incidents to her friends told me she had secretly enjoyed them. She enjoyed my first cigarette, my first joint and my first whiskey. She enjoyed my first arrest and then watching me stand in the dock of the Juvenile Court reciting Oscar Wilde. She enjoyed my first trip, and my first line of speed. She enjoyed the fights, the late nights and the love bites – me returning home with some woman's passion tattooed up my neck. It impressed her. She was watching the return of my father, and I was willingly playing the part.

Of course, I am not my father. There are huge differences between us. From what I know he didn’t read, didn’t write and didn’t paint. He had no artistic or intellectual hobbies. He wasn’t into literature, philosophy, sociology, politics, film or chocolate. Nothing. Just junk, love, alcohol and violence. All that really connects us is heroin addiction. That's no small thing, but it isn't very much either. Still, in part I have given my mother back what she had taken from her. I often think if I hadn’t she would have been dead years ago.

But drug addiction, as with any behaviour, doesn’t stem from one event. I cannot tell you all the parts of this, but I can tell you it would have probably happened anyway. The truth is, the idea of using drugs first came about as a way to overcome shyness. After that there were silly, immature reasons for first trying heroin. More than anything else to live up to a certain image and to exude a certain recklessness. That was probably aimed at impressing not only my peers but also my mother. Of course it also pissed a lot of the right people off and that was just as rewarding. But drug use and drug addiction are two very separate things. I soon found that heroin gave ME something. Not my mother, not my father, not my peers or my image, but ME. It gave an inch to an unbalanced leg. It made me feel more stable. Up until then a strong fart could have toppled me.

This is why I don’t hold any ill will or shove the blame towards Nilsen. It is also why I equally hold no ill will towards my mother. I stuck needles in my veins for me. As an intelligent, stupid adult I took my decisions and I will live with the consequences of them. I will not do what others have done and portion the blame for their mistakes and problems to others. I will not become bitter with life or death. I accept it all, and it's all my fault: the good and the bad. I'd have it no other way. I am happy within my body, and every bruise, and every scar and every smile and suicide rescue has contributed to that. I am my own history; the answer to my own equation. I cannot regret the past, none of it, without regretting myself. And I don't regret myself. I'd not rather be anyone else.. not even You.

It is now 28 years since the murder. My mother is two thirds on her way to death and I am even further along the line. Nilsen is still alive and languishes in HM Full Sutton maximum security prison in Yorkshire. He is 66 years old. My mother is drink and drug free, finally kicking the heroin and crack habits that she picked up later on in life. She no longer is haunted by the murder and can talk freely of it. She continues to hate Nilsen with a passion and hopes he is never released. I on the other hand would one day like to see him free. I would take no pleasure from him dying in jail. My mother would slap me for saying that, but what's a backhander at my age? It's just something you wipe away.

      My Thoughts and Wishes To ALL, Shane.X

56 comments :

AK said...

Another great post. Can't wait for part three. Apparently Nilsen wrote an autobiography in the can, but the authorities are blocking its publication.

Heroinhead said...

I know... I'm against all kinds of censorship and think it should be allowed to be published. He's a great writer... he really has a way with words. I have no ill felings towards him. It would piss my mother off though... so would my comment. Lucky she's not on the net! ;)

Starrlight said...

I feel badly being this engrossed over something that was so awful for you, but your writing draws me in. Your poor mother. Bad relationship choice or not, she should never have had to endure that.

Heroinhead said...

Starrlight, you don't have to feel bad... there's nothing wrong with enjoying it. I think I'd enjoy it myself if someone else wrote it! ;)

modernaged said...

Mr. Cave tends to lead to interesting things.

As a professional journalist myself, I quite like what you're doing here.

As someone who moved to London from New York a few months ago, eek.

Be good :)

Heroinhead said...

I'll be good... you be careful!!!

New York to London... that's like heroin to methadone.. a slight improvement. ;)

Actually, I'm in love with New York... it's one of the cities I dream of visiting... & I love the accent.

Take care Modernaged & thank you for the comment.

Aluajala said...

You have an interesting style of writing.. I'll look forward for part 3

sydney_savage said...

Do you ever feel like perhaps his death was a blessing of sorts? I mean not that he had to die in such a painful way, but just that he was not allowed to invoke pain on others anymore.... Or am I an insensitive asshole?

Heroinhead said...

We all invoke pain upon others... my mother also invoked a lot of pain on him & upon me. In my life I've hurt people. I don't think anyone should be killed for being human.

I don't think you've really thoughtyour question through. If you were insensitive you wouldn't even question yourself... you seem to want me to say yes. You're not, no.

You take care, HH.

Longy said...

Another compelling read Shane. When I think of happy memories of my late parents or someone I've lost,I sometimes cry too. I call them "happy tears"

I hope that writing all this is Carthartic for you. As you get more and viewers you may feel pressured to write more and more to satisfy your readers. Make sure you take things at your own pace and don't fall into into a "people pleasing" trap.

I look forward to reading more too.....but only when you are ready to write it.

Thanks again for sharing and take care Shane.

kokh_adkt said...

Stunned..

I sit here reading your blog, and you have left me feeling as bad as my last little bump of when its gone, and i know theres no more, no way to get it till another day. All i can do is ponder the smell and after taste in my mouth, and the occasional drip.

The Wait has begun...

p.s. your writing style is euphoric!

Lou said...

Aside from the engrossing story, what struck me was your statement..there is a difference between a heroin addict & a junky.
My son is a junky. He cannot work, write a blog, bathe, etc when using. I understand that sentence completely.
Maybe in a future post you can elaborate on that.

Heroinhead said...

Longy, Cathartic... no, as I don't break life down into events or tragedies that need resolving. I see life as one block, and at any time we are everything that is within that... the good and the bad - the ugly and the beautiful.

When I look in the mirror I am comfortable with who I am, and as it is my history that made me, I am also comfortable with that.

Have no worries that I will ever start playing to the crowd... that's one bad habit I've never picked up! ;) I have always been true to myself.. & that won't change. I do understand what you mean though... & it's something every writer must be careful to avoid.

Happy tears... there the only one's I cry. They're healthy tears.

Keep well and we'll speak more soon, Shane.

Heroinhead said...

Kokh_adkt, you're too too kind!!! You'll give me a big head!

Enjoy your wait... I know that's impossible. It's agony!

Take care, my friend. Shane

Heroinhead said...

Lou, nice to see you back & I hope you're well.

I will expand on that point in a later post as it's a very important difference and one some people are not aware of.

If people leave my blog thinking all addicts are like me, you and I know they are completely mistaken. I will have failed if that happens.

Again you're right... junkies cannot keep a blog, cannot keep a job... cannot keep a promise. I said to you once before that this doesn't mean they are bad people, it is their habit that forces them to act in this way. Thats of little comfort when your on the wrong end of the dirty tricks.. but it is true.

Take care Lou & i'll be across to your blog soon. Shane.

Quicksilver said...

i've heard of people who prayed for suffering. Intense suffering inspires art, remember? In that sense, you've got enough material to write at least a couple of books. :)
good writing.

Heroinhead said...

Quicksilver, thanks for joining us & for you're comment.

I've heard of that as well, but I don't agree.

When I was young I used to invite tragedy, I used to dream of it... but when real tragedy comes a knockin' it's really not creative.

I've only really suffered once in this life (nothing to do with Nilsen or drugs)and during that period I couldn't do anything. From my experience extreme pain nullifies expression.

I understood what you meant though. ;)

You take care & keep reading, Shane.

jenX67 said...

Shane - I continue to find your memoir a welcome journey. It is hard to read of such macabre, but you write with such ease.

There were two lines in this that were most memorable for me. One may suprise you, one won't. The one that won't is the memory of your father playing in the street - you crying at this rememberance - offering up a question "Why???"

The other line was, "In retrospect I think my neighbour done well." You have so much gratitude - more than people who have lived nearly perfectly charmed lives. God is reading this memoir and crying too, because he loves you. I know He is crying, b/c I don't even know you and I am crying, and I can only assume that it is God in me crying through me and reaching out all the way to France to hold your hand in some weird and virtual way - through the dying and the living. Oklahoma is such a humble place, you know. And, I am nobody special. I often wonder why in the world I have to be so weird. (Bear with me. It is all so strange, isn't it?)

I thought of you yesteday as I thought of the thief who hung on the cross next to Christ, and how, in the hour of his death he believed, and this belief carried him to heaven despite a life of regret.

And, why have you chosen now to share your memoir? You say heroin will kill you. Do you think you are leaving us sooner than later? I believe a greater romance than heroin awaits you.

Rejoicing, jen

Darren said...

Again, I'm stunned. Apologies if this sounds crude, but I am really enjoying your story. If it was a piece of fiction I'd be riveted. The fact that it's your own past just adds to the tale's emotion.

Sir, you are a remarkable and strange person (I mean this as a compliment). I can't wait to see how all of this unfolds...

Heroinhead said...

JenX67, once again thank you for all you say.

In this speedy modern world of business, technology & money, it always touches me when someone gives up their time. Not only to read my journal, but to reflect and comment... it really means a lot.

Secondly, YOU are someone VERY special... I won't hear otherwise. You are to me anyway... I feel that.

Have no fear that I am thinking of doing anything silly or harming myself. I write my memoirs now because the internet offered the perfect platform to do that.

I've always been a very confident person, though quite timid. This shyness has prevented me from forcing my story into others direction. With the internet I do not have this reservation... and so it comes out freely and naturally and willingly.

A few people have been concerned about my remark that "heroin will kill me.." This wasn't a veiled suicide threat or a subtle way to say I will one day take an OD, it was just a statement on what long term heroin usage does. It devastates the body & ruins ones internal organs. I think after 9 years of addiction the damage may be irreversible... hence "...I think I've already done it."

I hope that answers everything??

Once again, thank you for your time & your concern... best wishes, Shane.

Heroinhead said...

Darren, I'm glad to have you back... your presence is the the greatest compliment you pay me.

Keep well.. keep reading & keep enjoying...

Best wishes, Shane.

Gledwood said...

If he started in the early 70s, your Dad must've been using neat heroing "jacks" then... I had a friend (until she died last year) who took up using around the same time.. used to knock off chemists too. ~Aparently it used to be way easier than now, not that I'd have a clue about that sort of thing ... As for Nilsen, his shadow has been cast (indirectly) across my life a few times now. e.g. a few years ago I used to share a house with a girl who worked in Kentish Town job centre and worked with lots of his former colleagues. In the end I got the book and one day (I was staying 1 mile from Cranley Gdns anyway) a mate and I ventured to the House. I was determined to go right up to have a good look at the garden and that drain...

When it came to it this tall dark empty house with FOR SALE sign creaking in the wind was way too spooky for my taste and we hastily fled!

It's a fascinating story you're telling and I can only commend you for having the courage to post it up...

Heroinhead said...

Aluajala, it will be posted soon... 2-3 days. Shane

Heroinhead said...

Sir Gledwood, thanks for venturing across... I was just on your site reading more comments about Yorkshire pudding... It's brilliant.

What, the house still hadn't been sold??.. The landlord must be cursing our favourite son! It's a little surprising, as there are many people that love all things to do with serial killers and macabre crimes... i would have thought such a person would have snapped the property up. Maybe people aren't as sick as I imagine! ;)

Take care, my friend... Shane.

Ailsa said...

Shane;

Thank you for the comment.

I litrally read all of your blog and was engrossed. That happens very little on the internets I hear.

Therefore respect etc. Keep writing and I'll read it

Ailsa

Heroinhead said...

Thank you Ailsa... I'm glad you enjoyed.

You take care & we'll speak more over posts.

Shane

sylvied said...

what I find really admirable is your detachment telling your story...then again the fact that you cry while typing says something else...my English does not convey what I want to say...tant pis...
Take care.
Sylvie

Boston Joe said...

wow, powerful stories.. I just came across your blog and can't stop reading it!! I am an H addict from Boston, who,due to family reasons (wife, kids, other fam members) is currently not using. I used to be open and honest about all my "vices" before I got married and had to take shit from everyone over who I was.. I admire your openess and honesty.. keep up the good work and stay safe!!

Heroinhead said...

Sylie, Merci pour de m’avoir lu et d’avoir pris le temps de commenter.

Vous pouvez toujours écrire vos réponses en français, car je peux très bien le lire. C’est juste que mon français parlé est plus difficile. Pour la prononciation, j’ai un gros accent anglais et j’ai beaucoup de mal avec la lettre “R”. Et je ne crois pas que je puisse un jour progresser... Tant pis, indeed! ;)

You take care & best wishes, Shane.

Heroinhead said...

Boston Joe,

Thank you for joining the party... & glad you enjoyed. Maybe the family is a good exchange for the 'H'? ... I've yet to try it! ;)

I'll stay safe... you stay around.

Shane.

sKILLz said...

You love New York huh? Well I'm born and raised here. I'm in Brooklyn, so whenever you get youself down here be sure to drop me a line...Would love to meet up with you one day.

Now as for your post:

I'm sure your father did intend to rob him. Make like he was going to have sex with him or whatever and then rob him and at some point Nilsen got the upperhand and killed him.
From what I have read on him it seems that he strangled or drowned his victims and then hid the bodies.
He is a sick fuck and deserves to rot in prison.
He would put body parts under his floor boards, and then after months get them, chop them up and then put them back.

It's crazy to me how no one smelt the dead bodies. I mean I have smelled one before and theres NOTHING like it.
He did this for years and the way he gets caught it because he was boiling the flesh off and putting it down the drain and the drainage for the flats were getting clogged...thats just crazy to me...dont you think?

I have had death in my life as a child as well and who knows if made me turn to drugs or not, whos to say really.
Do you think that was your reason for turning to drugs? Besides your mothers breakdown and the schools turning you away? Or do you think they all played a part?

I said in my other post I would like to email you if you dont mind that is....
Stay Up!

Heroinhead said...

Skillz, of course I don't mind if you mail... I never sleep! No, I do sometimes.

It's crazy alright. He also took some bodies up after a few months, brushed them down and had sex with them. it's bizarre, hey?

I don't think it's the reason I turned to drugs... though it played a part. I think I would have gone there anyway. I will speak about this soon.

I await your mail...

kokh_adkt said...

Hi Shane,

When ever you get a chance, check this movie out.. "Things We Lost in the Fire" its with Benicio Del Toro in it, who is set to play "CHE" in his next movie..one of my fav actors..

KA

ryan field said...

I saw your post on another blog. I thought I'd find something cheesy. But I was wrong. It's really good. I'm linking you to my blog right now.

Heroinhead said...

Ryan, thank you... I appreciate your comment & the link. Sometimes I go a little too far and it seems like my blog may be a joke or some sick prank... I'm sure I would have had the same reservations as yourself. Anyway, glad you discovered that not to be the case.

If you've ever any questions fire away... I'm always very open. Take care & we'll speak again soon, Shane.

Betsie Zombie (Vanessa) said...

wow. u could write a book...u have so many stories to tell.
I'm looking forward to the next "chapter".

till then, please, take care and keep posting.
Kiss kiss,
Vanessa Mota

strange esteban said...

hello, ouch what a story :( i hope all should become more better much for your future , this blog is really interesting. My english is poor sorry, but i can read too!

i have many friends addict to H. it's complicated, i can understand you, the elements around you, but i can't feeling the same addiction

i have my owners addictions ...

take care and enjoy, the life is better than we can understood it

rahhhhhhh sorry sorry for this bad english ... :(

ciao

esteban

Heroinhead said...

Vanessa... thank you for coming back, that makes me happy!!! :)

As long as there are good people like you around I'll take care.

The next post will be coming soon... you've not too much longer to wait... (I promise!)

TC, Shane.

Heroinhead said...

Sir Esteban,

Ton anglais c'est mieux que mon français!!! Tu peux toujours repondre en français... ce n'est jamais pas un probleme. Comme tu veut.

Merci d'avoir me repondre

Prends soin de toi, Shane.

Ps: oui, l'histoire c'est dûr, mais on doit pas se concentrer sur ça... c'est la vie, c'est tout. je ne suis pas un poète en français... excuse-moi! ;)

Smack Happy said...

So Shane - when you're thinking, or dreaming...is is French or English?

Looking forward to your next post.

Heroinhead said...

SmackHappy (I always love typing that name) exclusively English.... my story in french can seem a little depressing!!! ;)

I'm proud of that joke.

Next post will be soon, My friend... TC, Shane.

Jamie said...

"I cry as I write this line & I don’t know why???"

I have felt this way a time or two and usually come to the conclusion that while it is a great memory, it is usually the only memory. Kinda happy and sad all rolled into one and I don't know which side of the fence to sit.

Enjoyed reading (as always). Take care.

Heroinhead said...

I think you're right, Jamie. The memory is also special because it is so ordinary amongst all the perversity. what can be more everyday than a young boy playing football with his dad? For a moment everything was normal.

You take care too. Wonderful designs you're making... really memorable.

kelly Al-Saleh said...
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kelly Al-Saleh said...
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Heroinhead said...

That's how he got caught... blocked up all the drains. Sinclair was his last victim, yes, but recently Nilsen admitted to a 16th murder which was a 14 year old boy (i think that was his age). Though, that would have been his first kill.

Yeah, the yardies:

"15 mins" After 20 you phone. He replies: "I'll be there in 10." This goes on for an hour; Then he stops answering the phone (which drives you insane). He finally answers: "Can you move?" lol

Same ol' same ol'... some things never change.

Take care Kelly... I hope the courriers on time.

Shane.

kelly Al-Saleh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kelly Al-Saleh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kelly Al-Saleh said...
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Heroinhead said...

Kelly, firstly you can post whatever you like here... It's a free zone. You can also go on as long as you like. You can also mail me: myheroinhead@gmail.com

My advice is to stick to smoking... it sounds like you will anyway. Withdrawal from needle or chasing is he same - it kills you!

I've many friends who use because they suffer depression or self-harm, I don't do that... unless of course sticking a needle in oneself is considered self-harm??? ;)

B in french is dré (pronounced 'dray') thats 'b'. Otherwise it's called heroin. On the street we don't use the 'h' word... same as there.

Take care & we'll speak more soon.

Shane.

jenX67 said...

Hi Shane,
I'm making the round this morning to people who recently signed up on my google friend connect thing. can you do me a favor? i messed up on the google friends connect thing. i have you on one list and not the other. if you have time, can you join the one labeled "really nice folks" at the bottom of my blog in the righthand column? sorry to bug but I don't want to delete the folks on the one list. thank you!

I'll be back to read part 3 later today.

love, jen

Shivi said...

It seems ironical to me...I ve read some posts of yours now, and I see in every post of yours..you send good wishes and ask your readrers to take care...but I feel you don't really take care of yourself..do you...may be you need someone to do that for you..

Anonymous said...

Hey : )
Why is it that women and men (society generally) still pre-judge people who have tattoos. women commonly?
I'm a twenty six year old F, have 11 tats, most of which can't be spotted on my everyday travels. Five To Six during the warm months are pretty much constantly on display. I don't work for attention and I have a loving boyfriend Without TATTOOS .I get the impression that lots of people think that tattooed people are blind, as we get stared at, even when we return a glance many people keep on staring. When will society change?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Kelly, thank you for the message thats kind. You've quoted Nilsen correctly, but it wasn't my father he said that about it was the last victim Steven Sinclair. I know why you cionfused them, as they were both young scots and both heroin addicts. Nilsens doesn't recall very much about my fathers murder, though he does about the dismemberment.

Nilsen also made some very macabre sketches of his victimes bodies, and from my own detective work one is my father. There is no proof so I cannot say that for sure. You can see the sketches in the back of "Killing for Company" or do a google image search 'Dennis Nilsen sketches'.

My mums from Belfast also (that's where she was born anyhow), but she's a London accent - she's a Londoner!

enjoy your yardie hunt... keep fighting the dragon... & we'll speak more soon.

Take care Shane

(Ps: the painting of 'My faher' is my step-father. It would hurt him if I referred to him as anything else.)

charleyross said...

This is beautifully written. Perhaps "enjoy" is the wrong word here but this was a fascinating piece.

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