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The dubious suicide of God’s banker: there is one secret society who some conspiracy theorists believe are behind this mysterious death ... of Roberto Calvi, who was a member of the defunct Masonic Lodge P2 ... On the 18th June 1982 Blackfriars Bridge in London became the focus of a murder mystery that put Freemasons in the line of fire. A discovery is made at dawn: the discovery of a well-dressed body found hanging under the bridge. His wallet is stuffed full of cash. A fake passport and his pockets are full of bricks. Freemasons on Trial
How about hanging ourselves? Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot starring Stephen Brennan & Barry McGovern & Johnny Murphy & Sam McGovern et al, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Estragon
Why don’t we hang ourselves? ibid.
We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Godot comes. ibid. Vladimir
There is no man, good as he may be, who, if all his thoughts and actions were submitted to the scrutiny of the laws, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life. Montaigne aka Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
Life was never easy for Ruth Ellis. Having given birth to a son whose father turned out to be a married man, she later had a daughter to her husband, George Ellis, a drunkard. She then suffered a long and violent love-hate relationship with her racing car boyfriend, David Blakely. And now, not long after she had miscarried his baby, he was ignoring her, choosing instead to drink with friends, including a woman known to have been his lover. Small wonder that Ruth was hurt, angry and frustrated, and that her tortured mind, possibly driven by alcohol and certainly by jealousy, sought retribution. But no-one, least of all Blakely himself, could have predicted that she would step from a doorway armed with a revolver to kill the man she loved.
It was Easter Sunday, 1955, and Ruth was 28 years old. Five shots she fired into David Blakely’s body, as he emerged from the Magdala Tavern, Hampstead, with a male friend. At point-blank range Blakely stood no chance. His killing, as murders go, was unremarkable. Several people witnessed the shooting, and Ruth Ellis never attempted to deny it. But the murder of David Blakely is remembered after so many years for one reason: that Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in England.
Should she have hanged? Was she guilty of murder, and not manslaughter, as she might have been? This woman acquired a gun, was driven to a place she believed her intended victim to be, where she shot him in cold blood, not once but five times – hardly a spontaneous deed or an act of self-defence, no matter that she had been the victim of so much violence at the hands – and fists – of the man she killed. Watford Observer library article
In 1955 a murder was committed outside this pub in Hampstead, London. The victim was David Blakely, and what made his killing so shocking was that his attacker had been his lover: Ruth Ellis. Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook: Ruth Ellis, CI 2011
Her name remains in the history books as the last woman to be hanged in Britain. ibid.
Ruth underwent several illegal abortions during her time working as a hostess. ibid.
She then turned the gun on herself, but the gun misfired. ibid.
I’ve got enormous sympathy for Ruth Ellis, because she just didn’t have the self-awareness to be able to drag herself out of the mire she had got herself in ... She let the hangman do it for her. Pip Granger
I think one problem was that she was dressed as a hostess I think in court. Justice Baroness Butler-Sloss
Her defence was pretty meagre to say the least ... There was quite a lot that didn’t come out in court that would have helped her. Professor David Wilson
It’s obvious: when I fired the gun I intended to kill him. Ruth Ellis
On June 21st Ruth Ellis was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey and sentenced to death in accordance with the law ... Ruth Ellis had to die ... Three questions remain: should a woman hang? Should anyone hang at all? Or should there be degrees of murder? Pathé News
Hampstead, Easter Sunday 1955: In cold blood Ruth Ellis had shot her lover David Blakely dead with a revolver. They’d been lovers for eighteen months. The law was clear: if Ruth Ellis was found guilty she would suffer the death penalty. Ruth Ellis’ case became a sensation. Rough Justice: Ruth Ellis: A Life for a Life, BBC 1999
A woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown: violently abused and sorely provoked she was then ill-served not only by the solicitor who took her case and by her Queen’s Counsel but also by the Home Secretary of the day: he disregarded the evidence which could have saved her. Ruth Ellis should not have suffered the hangman’s noose. ibid.
I didn’t feel right in hanging this woman [Ellis]. Albert Pierrepoint, hangman, to Laurence Marks, screenwriter & author
Tomorrow morning, I’ll take this like a man. James Hanratty
Four years later Shipman hanged himself in his prison cell. Harold Shipman: Dr Death
The punishment of criminals should be of use; when a man is hanged he is good for nothing. Voltaire
I’d hang all incompetents and fools anyway. Rope 1948 starring James Stewart & John Dall & Farley Granger & John Chandler & Cedric Hardwicke & Constance Collier & Douglas Dick & Edith Evanson et al, director Alfred Hitchcock, Brandon
Hang him. Hang Em High 1968 starring Clint Eastwood & Inger Stevens & Ed Begley & Pat Hingle & Ben Johnson & Charles McGraw & Ruth White & Bruce Dern & Alan Hale & James Westerfield & Denis Hopper et al, director Ted Post, head of posse
Shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king? William Shakespeare, Henry IV I starring Roger Allam & Oliver Cotton & Jamie Parker & Joseph Timms & Sam Crane & Jason Baughan & Patrick Brennan & William Gaunt & Christopher Godwin & Daon Broni et al, director Dominic Dromgoole, Falstaff to Hal, Globe Theatre, Sky Arts 2012
Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night I v 18, Feste
I am bewitched with the rogue’s company. If the rascal have not given me medicines to make me love him, I’ll be hanged. William Shakespeare, I Henry IV II ii 19
Go hang thyself in thine own heir-apparent garters! ibid. II ii 49
There live not three good men unhanged in England, and one of them is fat and grows old. ibid. II iv 146
I will be hanged if some eternal villain,
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devised this slander. I will be hanged else. William Shakespeare, Othello IV ii @134, Emilia
Strange Fruit – a song about the horrors of lynching in the south. That Swing Thing, BBC 2013
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood on the root
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit, 1939
Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself. Mid-17th century proverb
One might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Late 17th century proverb
We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged. Heinrich Heine