The following are official statements given at the Coroner’s inquest by witnesses and survivors of the tragic events that took place at the Harpurton Leisure Centre, Moston, Manchester, on August 17th this year.
As the Coroner who conducted the inquest into the death of Tony Dawson, I was moved by the passionate affection for the young man expressed by his friends, but I was also shocked by their irreligious attitudes, and by their casual use of expletives in court, while speaking under oath, and their sense of sexual liberty. People reading on from here should be forewarned of this. Also, though the religious people happily gave their oaths with their hands on the Bible, the atheists all insisted on affirming, which meant exercising their legal right not to swear on the Bible – the most people I have seen do so at any one time.
I didn’t really know Tony Dawson. I had never met him before I saw his TV interviews. They excited me, and not just because he was so handsome. As an ardent atheist, I jumped at the chance to drown my Christian up bringing. My school had forced me to write right-handed like the rest of the class, and denounced my left-handedness as a sign of Satan. Can you believe they were still doing that in the mid 1970’s? I contacted Tony through his Facebook page and got an invite to be unbaptised along with many others.
I thought I would be the first to arrive at the baths. I’d put my long red dress on, and a straw bonnet. I carried a small bag containing a dry dress and a towel, and stuff like my money, keys, etc. My taxi driver saw the protesters and their placards, and refused to drive too close to the baths, in case things got ugly. I had to walk the last few hundred yards. There were about forty people there then, and I know the numbers quadrupled later. Protesters were yelling ‘Once God’s Always God’s, ‘ and ‘Jesus Loves You’. There was a priest, and a Nun there too. She was saying a prayer to herself. A few police were present, and they nervously started calling for back up. They’d expected a quiet protest. It was beginning to look like a potential riot from the outset.
I thought I would get accosted, but they were eager to play up to TV the cameras that were pointing at them instead. They barely noticed me until I was almost at the doors to the leisure centre. Then someone yelled ‘There’s no chlorine in holy water, sister.” I think someone spat at me too, but they missed. That was hardly holy water either was it?
I walked into the leisure centre reception. There were a few leisure centre staff present, and a policeman was stationed inside the centre too. Tony had prepaid for the hiring of the pool, but I had to check in and give my name to prove that I wasn’t one of the protesters.
Booked in, I walked through to the changing rooms, even though I wasn’t changing. I put my bags in a locker and headed through the shower room towards the pool area. I didn’t shower. I had done that before leaving home, naked, naturally. My clothes were clean enough too. I had to wade through the cold water footbath that was about a foot deep. The hem of my dress was soaked and my red shoes were squelching and squeaking. I felt the water bubble through them into my toes. I had my bonnet on. I looked and felt adorable. Do you think I’m adorable, officer? Never mind.
I expected the pool to be empty. To my surprise there was a man in the water already. He was in swim-wear and tearing up and down the pool freestyle. He was sleek, and athletic. I could tell that I was watching a near professional swimmer in action, and the tightness of his aerodynamic trunks was apparent to me when he turned on reaching the pool side, ready to head back towards the deep end. I was thinking of waiting for others to arrive, especially Tony himself, but the sight of the magnificent man before me made me step forward and off the pool side. I hit the water feet first, and sank instantly to my waist. Bending my knees on contact with the bottom ensured that I was soaked up to my tits, er breasts My hat came off and started to sink. I reached forward to grab it, and my dress billowed out round me. It felt incredibly buoyant. I laughed, and then the swimmer collided with me. .
I was training for my third stab at the Channel. I’d cramped up half way out the first time, and within sight of the French coast on the second. Harpurton Leisure gave me dispensation to use the pool every morning, and though they had asked me to take a day off for the stupid Dawson dunking activities, I had made it clear that I needed to keep training. Tony kindly assured me and the staff at the centre that I’d be OK, and that one swimmer wouldn’t be a problem. I was grateful to him for that at least..
That day started like any other for me. I dived in and swam hard and fast, trying to beat my own record. As my face was in the water apart from when I needed to breath, I didn’t see the girl, until I swam right into the folds of the dress. I got completely tangled up. It was like wrestling with a parachute, and I looked up through my goggles to see her polka dot panties going transparent. She had shaved herself very closely. She grabbed the folds of her dress and dived aside to let me get by. I came up to breathe and talk to her. I’d been in no danger of drowning, but the swimming session was over for me for now. My rhythm was broken. I felt angry, but seeing her soaked through and giggling at the unlikeliness of it all just made me laugh too. She introduced herself, and asked me what I was doing there. I started to tell her about my big swim plans, but someone else arrived.
I’d actually arrived before Claire, but I didn’t want to be a Pratt and go into the pool first. When I heard someone else jump in, other than the swimmer, I shower soaked my rented tux and came out. I saw the pretty lady helping to untangle the man in trunks from her dress – caught a glimpse of her arse too and I dived in to join them. I thought I was diving, elegantly, stylishly. It was actually a really crap belly flop.
Lambard was really pissed off. He climbed out of the pool and stomped off to get changed and go home. I swam over to Claire and introduced myself. I was a Humanist, secretary of the atheist group for which Tony did the newsletters. We spoke as she crouched down and stood up to let me see the water cascade down her substantial cleavage over and over again. I was beginning to see why Tony’s other hobby was so appealing.
I just wanted to go home. I felt utterly miserable. I got dressed and headed out, to find myself confronted by a mob. There must have been eighty people out there, waving placards and crucifixes. My hair was still damp so they seemed to think I’d already been un-baptised. I had a hard time convincing them that I’m a Methodist, but they eventually let me go, but I did let slip that some people were already swimming around in their Sunday best waiting for things to start. The crowd surged forward until the police were able to push them back, but more and more were coming. A bus full of Mormons arrived as I fucked off.
I was there to cover events for commercial TV. I had wanted to interview the early arrivals, but the protesters kept me occupied while the first swimmers went past. I got a cameraman to follow me through while I went poolside to interview them.
I suppose I ought to start before that though. I had covered the story of Tony Dawson’s unbaptism from the beginning. He wrote to my station when he launched the campaign. I interviewed him on air then, and I planned to interview him again as he arrived at the leisure centre and right after his unbaptism. My camera crew filmed virtually all of the ceremony and sadly, we also filmed the terrible events that followed.
Tony was a very bright young man, with a sparkling sense of humour. He was working as an assistant manager in a city centre department store, and running meetings for The Manchester Atheists. He was one of their officiants, helping to organize non-religious funerals and weddings. He developed the idea for a full emersion un-baptism service when other atheists started writing to the Catholic Church asking to have their christenings annulled.
As Tony saw it, most people at best got a polite letter from the bishops saying that annulments of the baptism were not permitted under church or state laws. A few persistent campaigners got the church to reluctantly acknowledge that they had left the flock, but that was about it. Humanist groups started issuing certificates of being unbaptised, and Tony had one, but for him, it wasn’t enough. To quote him from my first interview with him:
“The Church holds me in its grip as a statistic. My parents had me christened at St. Dunstan’s when I was three months old, so what say did I have in the matter? My folks were lapsed Catholics, and only really did it because everyone else with children had a baptism ceremony. It was how things were done. As I grew up, I realized that the Bible was a load of baloney (He actually said bollocks, but we bleeped that out). My support for the annulled baptism campaign was falling on deaf ears. The Church regards my baptism as a fact of history. I regard it as an act of superstition inflicted on me when I had no choice. I wanted to do something more dramatic to address that situation.”
I asked Tony where the idea of full-unbaptism ceremonies arose.
“I was swimming with Carole, my fiancée, in the sea, during a trip to Blackpool. We were both in our jeans and tee-shirts. She pushed my head under the water and as I surfaced, she jokingly told me that she had just baptized me. It was a eureka moment for me. I thought of the many born again Christian ceremonies of re-baptisms – they nearly always involved the believer wearing their best clothes as the officiant, or priest or vicar dunked them in the name of Christ. I decided it would work just as well in reverse. I swam to shore and rushed to get dried off and make notes on the explosion of ways I could exploit the idea. The ceremony I’m telling you about grew out of that event. “
I asked him how he and Carole had taken to swimming fully dressed in the first place. Tony shrugged. “It’s something of a turn on for us. You might call it a fetish, and it is for many people. We got into it when Carole dragged me into the shower one day while we were at her house. She was naked. I was still in my black work suit. I told her how good it felt, and she tried it next, in a mini dress and high heels. We were both very turned on by it, and we get soaked together at every opportunity now. We found lots of like minded people online and started our own wet-clothing swimmers group.“
I became more critical then, and conscious that we were talking about sex before the nine o clock watershed (no pun intended). I asked him if the unbaptism ceremony was just a publicity stunt for his wet fetish buddies, a claim that the pro-religion, and anti-unbaptism brigade has clung to ever since.
Tony smiled. “To some extent, yes, but mostly no. I was an atheist and a Humanist before I became a wet fetish fan, and my beliefs come first. My wetlook pals get a lot of flack for their open sexual deviance, and the rise of sexual promiscuity are often blamed on atheists anyway, so it gives me a chance to draw my various interest groups together. “
I asked him when the ceremony was to take place. The date is now of course well known, as it’s the day he died so horribly. Once off the air, I discussed how we might best go about filming the proceedings.
For balance, I also interviewed representatives of the Catholic Church. Father Michael O’Reilly, now 83 and retired, had conducted the actual baptism on Tony back in 1982. Tony was now 27.
FATHER MICHAEL O’REILLY.
I don’t recall the actual baptism itself, as I conducted thousands of such services. I do remember the Dawsons though, a delightful family, but not particularly devoted members of my congregation. They were round for weddings, funerals and christenings, and the occasional midnight mass at Christmas, but otherwise, they preferred football and garden centres to church.
Tony’s decision to annul his baptism saddened me naturally. He wrote to my successor, Father Joseph Richards,. about it, and Father Richards consulted me. Initially, I thought it was just a joke or a phase the poor wretch was going through, so I advised Richards to ignore him. When more letters came, Father Richards reluctantly wrote back.
THE LETTER FROM FATHER J. RICHARDS
9th January ___
Dear Mr. Dawson, I am very upset by your wish to annul your Catholic baptism, and I write and pray that you reconsider the position. That you have lost faith and become an unbeliever of the Humanistic, atheist persuasion is one thing, but while you remain baptised, there is hope that you might rediscover the love of God. If we allow your self-requested excommunication and ask the holy spirit to leave your soul, you will be truly alone, and it may be difficult, if not impossible for you to re-convert to the religion shared by so many of your beloved family, most of who are no longer with us. As I believe their baptised souls are now in Heaven, I trust they would not wish you to commit your own soul to oblivion or Hell, and so I will not be supporting your wish to have your baptism annulled or cancelled, despite your present passionate desires. There is no legal or theological argument that can change my decision, and though you may have all sorts of ways to declare yourself an unbeliever, the county diocese record of your baptism remains unchanged. God bless you, and encourage you to return to his love, before it is too late. Yours sincerely, Father J.
FATHER MICHAEL O’REILLY.
Within months, Tony had moved from asking for a quiet annulment to calling for a swimming pool party with as many atheist friends present, and various practitioners of deviant sexual aquatics in tow. He has traded religion for a circus, and many supporters accused Father Joseph, myself, the archbishop, and even the Pope himself of denying him his civil rights and liberties. We ended up answering questions before the Laity as to whether we would allow the ceremony to be officially recognised as annulling a baptism or not. We were trapped. If we said yes, we would have ex-Catholics jumping in pools, puddles, rivers and bathtubs all over Britain to clean God out of their hearts. If we said no, we would be denying a man his self-chosen human right not to be Catholic. To my personal revulsion, though by a slender majority, the Laity voted in favour of officially annulling baptisms. The ceremony was going ahead, and I couldn’t stop it. Many in the church are understandably furious about it, and that helped fuel the passionate protests that took place outside the leisure centre that terrible day.
FATHER J. RICHARDS
Once we had established that the wet mass was definitely not going to be stopped, Tony invited Father O’Reilly and myself along to witness and participate. Father O’Reilly is rather elderly and infirm now, so we decided that he would stay outside the leisure centre, but that I would go in, and help offer Tony the towel with which to symbolically dry himself off as he left the water and to show that there was no ill-will between the Church and himself. I had no desire to go swimming myself, and I had not considered getting wet myself at all, but things did not go according to plan as you know. My presence would also mean that any other ceremonies growing out of this one, would only be seen as official if the Catholic Church was officially represented, and I know few of my colleagues will choose to attend such proceedings once the media publicity machine loses interest in all of this.
The idea was simple. Tony would go into the water in his clothes, and swim around with friends and well wishers for a little time. When the ceremony began, he would swim to poolside at the deep end, and duck down, just below the surface. I would then reach into the water to tug him gently up by the forehead, and he would clamour out of the pool, up the steps. I would hand him a towel and he would dry himself off a little, and declare himself unbaptised. The media would witness proceedings and then I would go away and pray to God to forgive me for the rest of my days.
Everything went so wrong from the start. The reaction from religious people around the World, and especially in Manchester was very strong. The protest attracted four thousand at its peak, and the police could not cope. Worse, I had planned on just unbaptising Tony, but at the last minute lots of other atheists were coming forward asking if they could be cleansed too, and Tony had said yes to many of them without checking with me first. The other atheists wanted to make the event into a carnival of colour and celebration, of irreligion and fetish art – the whole thing was turning into a joke. . The event attracted many people from the gay community –The Church had always made enemies by being hard opponents of homosexuality and when I arrived there were hordes of transvestites dressed as nuns, wearing rubber non-swimming arm bands. Some had turned dildos into flotation devises.. They were forming a counter protest group opposite the militant pro-religious factions. Angry words and a few stones were thrown. The nervous police, caught between the two sides, were calling frantically for reinforcements.
On the whole, my turning up with Tony was a mistake. The protesters regarded my part in the unbaptism as an act of blasphemy. They called for me to be defrocked.
I missed Tony’s arrival. I was poolside, talking to Claire, and other unbaptisees as they arrived and took the plunge. I got calls from the camera team outside reporting on events there, and when the Transvestite nuns arrived, I wished I could be in two places at once.
My director wanted me to swim around, as he thought the viewers would appreciate the sight of me being silly. He said I would look really sexy too. Many bathers avoided the changing rooms and just came through the main entrance and right into the pool. I was drenched just from being splashed, and I decided to go in there and then. I sat down on the poolside, and lowered my feet in. I paddled them around and then slowly lowered myself forward, feeling the water seep into my hose and my panties. I took my mic off, and let myself fall backwards, so my open red jacket floated out rounds me and I lay on my back, grinning at the camera. Shots of my tits glistening through my white blouse had to be edited out of the final footage.
I spoke to Claire first as we swam casually to mid-pool. Claire hadn’t swum in her dress before, and she clearly loved the sensation of the air tingling through the fabric against her. I had to agree that it felt awesome. Another woman arrived dressed as a French Maid and casually climbed down the steps in her fishnets and silk skirt. She swam slowly towards us breast stroke style, and taking a deep, gasping breath, grinning the whole way, she swam the last few feet underwater, and bobbed up treading water right next to me. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Tanya Moore.”
I commented to camera that swimming in such a formal outfit surrounded by such strange and happy people were the strangest thing I had ever filmed and how nice it felt too.
I recognised Tanya Moore’s name as she was a local porn star, and she told me that she had often got her corsets and garters wet for her fans, and that she had never believed in God. I asked her if she would mind cynics questioning whether she might be doing this to publicise her career. “If they watch my films, they won’t be cynics any more,” she said, laughing.
A man arrived in faded old blue striped pyjamas and threw a Bible into the pool. He jumped in and swam towards me. He told me that it was a reminder of the school life-saving classes when he used to have to prove he could swim well by diving after heavy lead weights and bringing them to the surface. He didn’t bother rescuing the Bible. He said it didn’t deserve rescuing. It was still at the bottom of the pool when we all left.
A woman turned up dressed as a mermaid, and her girlfriend was dressed as King Neptune. They ignore the pool’s notices that declared heavy petting as being against the by-laws. Several people came out in Edwardian bathing suits, with long johns and petticoats swirling round them. A few wore dinner jackets, and there were some people dressed as swimming pool lifeguards, which really freaked out the actual lifeguard assigned to look after us.
Freaked out! You could say that. What the Hell was all this, I wondered. These clowns kept piling in, and a few were dressed as clowns too. The grease paint make up was running in the water. The three lifeguards were saving people who were obviously not in danger of drowning, and offering the kiss of life all round. The kiss of life doesn’t use tongues either. Disgusting it was, and I blew my whistle to stop them, but they all ignored me. Then the nuns pulled me into the pool. They thought I was one of their friends. The mermaid tail hit me in the face as she swam past. Someone started trying to save me. I punched him, and then I got out and screamed at them that I was going to throw them out if they didn’t behave. They just laughed at me. I’ve run children’s swimming pool parties that were better managed than this. I told my boss the situation was out of control, and he reminded me that we had the cameras in. We didn’t want to get the leisure centre a bad reputation, she said. I couldn’t see how it could have gotten worse, but of course, it got a lot worse, especially when Tony finally arrived.
SUPERINTENDANT DAVID BARNSTAPLE .
The delayed arrival of the main instigator of the events was largely due to the impending riots. We feared for Tony’s safety, and told him as much as we escorted him and Father Richards from Tony’s house. We hoped that Tony would call off the event and arrange to do what he felt he needed to do some other day, with either less media razzamatazz or with the police given more time to prepare to control the crowds. With a major anti-war rally and a football match on in Manchester that day, we were severely stretched. Ironically, the match and anti-war event went off calmly while a religious service turned into a battleground.
Despite police advice, Tony’s heart was set on proceeding, and we found out that some of his friends were already swimming around in the pool. We decided it should all end as quickly as possible now. We let Tony travel close to the leisure centre in a squad car. We warned him that his own car would be vandalized if he took that along. He agreed with that danger and let us takes him. The priest came along in the same car.
The size of the two crowds facing off against one another outside the leisure centre was as much of a shock to Tony as it was to us. We parked the car around the corner and suggested that he walk discreetly towards the leisure centre. We hoped in vain that he wouldn’t be recognised, but after his TV appearances and his picture appearing in the local press, we weren’t really fooling anyone for long.
There was more theatre than dignity to proceedings. One man had dressed an inflatable full sized sex doll in a Summer frock. He wanted her unbaptised too. Even Tony, to his credit, advised him that he was going too far, and the doll, Soapy Sophie, was taken away, deflated.
A cry went up. “He’s here. The twat’s here.” The mob turned and surged forward almost as one, but remarkably, the police line held. Tony and the priest were ushered to a side entrance to the leisure centre, with two uniformed police women guiding them through. The door was slammed behind them, and at that point, the mob exploded into real violence. They seemed unsure whom to lash out at first, the police or the gay protesters, many of who were dispersing to prepare for their own unbaptisms. I saw a nun fighting with a man dressed as a Nun. I think he was a man anyway. A few rioters were rushing for the doors to the leisure centre too, and the police focussed their defence on that area.
PC LIZ PRINCE
With PC Brenda Morton’s assistance, I led the priest and the unbeliever through a twisted set of corridors to the pool area, and the bathers cheered as Tony arrived at the side of the water. He wore a simple pin-stripe suit, and tie. He looked like the best man at a registry office wedding ceremony. On a count of three he jumped into the water, holding his nose. Everyone cheered as he surfaced, grinning from ear to ear.. The priest walked to the deep end area and waited for Tony to swim up to the stairs. The others, including the reporter, swam just behind him. Tony shouted to her that he was grateful to everyone for coming and that she had been so good in telling everyone what was going on. He was in a very good mood. No one except the police seemed worried about what was going on outside. They were having too much fun.
Yeah, I was protesting. I’m a Catholic. My mum had me baptised and I’m proud of that. I know it would break her heart if I had my introduction to God broken so why should this Dawson creep get away with it? If he gets away with such shit he’ll encourage others to renounce their baptisms too. My wife is expecting a baby soon. We’ll be having him baptised soon after he pops out. Do you think I want my sprog to grow up and reject God? Do I fuck. That is why I protested. What Tony did is an abomination in God’s eyes, and look at the carnival freaks who turned out to help him. Jesus Christ.
SISTER MARY ZEALAND
It was this wetlook fetish craze that really offended the Sisters Of St. Bernadette’s. . Tony turned religion into fetish fair. Many people there were just trying to look sexy, in revealing outfits. Somehow, the wetlook people make clothes even more revealing than bikinis. A blouse will cling and highlight flesh in remarkable ways, - I’ve seen the pictures. Utterly disgusting. Tony could have had a perverted wetlook party for his chums without bringing religion into it. Religion is not for perverts like these. That’s why I was there, denouncing the whole campaign. Tony’s aqua-mass is a black mass – Atheism is no different to Satanism, and as for Father Joseph Richards, he should be stripped of ecclesiastical office immediately.
It was all a bit of a laugh to us. We dress like this all the time at the clubs and the God-botherers spend more time bothering us than God. They are always trying to tell us to get cured, go celibate and find ourselves a nice wife to marry, and not to have sex until then. The best of it is, they won’t let anyone have sex without condoms, so fuck ‘em. A chance to declare myself unbaptised appeals to me. That’s why we came out to support Tony. A lot of us know him from the atheist groups anyway – atheists are a lot more tolerant to us than the Catholics ever prove to be.
Things got a bit heated. I thought it was a matter of time before the pigs got riot shields and tear gas out. One of my mates said they might use hoses on us and said we’d end up wetter than the twats in the pool. That’s when we decided to attack. We pushed hard against the cops linking arms in front of us. The Trannies were calling on them to keep us in check, but its them who should have been caged in. ‘Fuckin’ Pouffs,” I shouted, - not that I’m homophobic or anything, you understand! Anyway, the police line broke. A few cops fell over and we just trampled over them. Half of my mates rushed for the queers, who rushed back in force. Most of my pals were knocked out quickly. The gay guys work out a lot – they punch hard. The cops were cuffing anyone they caught, but a few of us broke free and ran for the main entrance to the centre. I kicked a cop in the balls and rushed past as he went down. I expect I’ll do time for that, won’t I? Still, we did it, in the name of Jesus, and we got to the changing rooms area. There was no one to stop us now. I’m surprised a few of the nuns were keeping pace with me though. Can’t be east running like that in a habit.
We came out to support Tony, yes. A lot of the gay community are atheists. It’s hard to love a God who tells his flock to go queer-bashing, isn’t it? Leviticus tells them to stone us to death as an abomination, and a few of the dickheads there were throwing stones about. What were we to do? I wanted to get unbaptised, and soak my tutu, but I figured Tony needed a few of us to watch his back. Sadly, we didn’t have enough men to achieve it and the twats broke through our lines. Even the real boys in blue couldn’t hold them back. They stormed the leisure centre. We chased them in, but we were too late.
FATHER J. RICHARDS
I wanted Tony to hurry things up, but he was enjoying himself and basking in the attention from his friends. Hr swam slowly, and kept turning round to wave and thank people. His girlfriend swam up to be by his side. He hugged her and they both disappeared under the water for a moment locked in their embrace.
I’d kept Tony thinking I couldn’t make it along as I wanted to surprise him. I slipped into the pool quietly, wearing riding jodhpurs, my show jumping jacket, bonnet and boots. I waited until he was in the pool before I made him aware that I had arrived. He told me that while he would be the first unbaptised, I would be second. We hugged and sank, and when I let him go, he shot to the surface like a cork. I surfaced as he took the first step up towards the priest holding the towel.
FATHER J. RICHARDS
He milked every moment, and when I finally handed him the towel, everyone cheered and started singing ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’ Someone started humming REM’s song, ‘Losing My Religion’. I declared his baptism officially annulled. I had effectively destroyed his soul, and probably my own in the process. His girlfriend came to me next and I dried the holy ghost out of her too. The swimmers were queuing up to come to me now, and I got through about half of them when the rabble spilled into the pool, literally, with many of them jumping and falling right into the water. A few people couldn’t swim very well. The lifeguard saved one.
I didn’t save anyone. It must have been one of the phonies. He rescued the nun – the real one, I think she was real, anyway.
FATHER J. RICHARDS
The baying jackals saw Tony and me. They came right at us along the pool side, running. Someone pulled out a knife. Tony threw himself in front of me. He probably saved my life.
The priest said that? The lying bastard! Tony tried to throw himself in front of me, but Father Joseph jumped behind both of us and pushed us forward to shield himself. Tony thought quickly and shunted me sideways right into the water and the cowardly little shits grabbed him. They punched and kicked at him, but he broke free while someone pushed me to the side, thinking I was having difficulties swimming. I could swim fine. I was just getting hysterical. It was frightening. The rioters spotted the priest then, and someone shouted Judas at him and threw a knife. It missed, and the priest threw himself in the water to get away from the other missiles they threw. I spat at him, and told him he was evil. That shocked even the morons beating Tony up, and that gave him a chance to break free. Unfortunately, the thugs were between him and the water. I screamed at him to get out and run to the police. He hesitated, but finally he saw the sense of it. He had no choice. He turned and fled through a fire door. The alarms triggered and sprinklers went off, soaking us even more. The mob surged out after Tony like a pack of dogs chasing a fox.
I stopped chasing him when I saw the car, and I tried to warn him as he ran into the road. I hadn’t wanted to kill the poor bastard. You have to believe me. I swear to God that’s the truth.
I didn’t see him at all. I was watching the rioters and the cops. I put my foot down on the gas to get past before someone threw a rock at my car. I was only delivering some chlorine and pool cleaning fluids to the leisure centre. I had no idea all this stuff was going on. I heard the thud before I saw the man bounce off my windshield. I remember the rain of water and blood that poured off him. I had to hit my windshield wipers to see more. I saw the angry crowd go quiet as it dawned on them that someone was really hurt. They started coming over. A bunch of wet people in their clothes and fancy dress came from the baths too. A girl in saturated horse riding gear collapsed in tears. It was terrible. A policeman radioed an ambulance and someone fetched an old priest who had been sitting in a van down the road. I got out of my car and my legs were turning to jelly. I asked a cop If the man was alright, but then I looked and saw how broken he was. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to last long. I called to the old priest. “Give him absolution. I think he needs it.”
FATHER J. RICHARDS
Father O’Reilly started to give Tony the last rites, but I advised him to stop. “It’s too late, old friend. I’ve annulled his baptism. He’s no longer one of God’s children.” Father O’Reilly continued giving the blessing anyway.
SUPERINTENDANT DAVID BARNSTAPLE .
Tony Dawson was pronounced dead at 2.30 pm, ten minutes after the car had run him over. We took names and addresses, and all the TV station footage of events, and let most people go. Though some of the rioters were arrested for public order offences and GBH, only one risks manslaughter charges, Gregory Carter.
It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was the fucking driver.
SUPERINTENDANT DAVID BARNSTAPLE .
Everyone, apart from Carter, including the deceased’s heart-broken fiancée, Carole Finch, assured us that the car driver was not to blame for the death of Tony Dawson.
As the manager of the Harpurton facilities, might I just say that after the unfortunate death of the young militant atheist, everyone left the leisure centre, but no effort was made to clean up by any of the bathers. We found a ruined Bible at the bottom of the pool and an inflated blow up sex doll was floating face down in the shallows. We will not allow the leisure centre to be used for any such ceremonies in future.
Tony’s last words were to me. He told the protesters crowding in on him to get lost and make room for me. He told me that he loved me, and that we would get married under-water one day. Then he died.
I’ve already decided that he should be buried at sea. We had discussed that once. It won’t be in a coffin thrown off a ship – we’ll all wade into the water dressed in black to float him out on a small model Viking ship, and set it alight. We’ll swim clear as the flames take him. It’ll be lovely. As for God, fuck him.
LINK TO THIS PAGE http://arthurchappell.me.uk/story-unbaptism.htm
FACEBOOK - http://profile.to/arthurchappell/
MY TWITTER PAGE - http://twitter.com/arthurchappell