Friday, 11 June 2021

There Will Be No Finale

There Will Be No Finale.



I knew and loved Chris for six years before he died. That is a lot shorter than many, many people who knew him. And also he shared many things with me that I did not realise until after his death were incredibly deep secrets to him.


There are also many, many things I could say about Chris. But I am not his biographer or his keeper or his dramaturg. He was more than capable of being all those things and more for himself. Even, to an extent, after his death.


The thing about harm and shame and terror and abuse is that it has a way of building a very harsh kind of dichotomy. Fighting or silent. Or, as Chris liked to recall saying to a childhood friend when he was six, "You can be in my play if you take your clothes off. And if you don't want to take your clothes off, then you can just go home."


Living with that inside must be immensely painful. And I know how painful being on the receiving end can be . And we've seen so much damage from it, those of us that knew Chris. Both to himself and others. So I'm not convinced those are the only two options. That I have to either paint a comprehensive and defensible narrative of him and us and all of this, or stay silent.


Here are the important facts around his death. This won't be the whole story. Because some of that story is inherently very personal and cannot be explained in a blog post. Because some of that story is still under active police investigations. Because some of that story died with Chris and none of us will ever know it.


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Chris was sexually interested in children. He was when he was a child, he was when he was a teenager, and he was when he was an adult. He shared this with me the first weekend we spent away together, at the start of our relationship. He downloaded, discussed, and shared images and films of children of all ages and genders being abused and assaulted for over 20 years, up until his arrest on 5 May 2021.


This is technically separate, but it's important to my experience, so it goes here: As many people know or have seen or have guessed or have experienced first-hand, Chris could be immensely coercive and abusive. He would and could threaten to kill himself if I didn't stay quiet about things that happened in rooms with him, including serious crimes.


Of course, Chris could be other things, too. And perhaps some of those things are still true. Those things are recorded in reviews and tributes and things his collaborators and I have done and said about him throughout the years. However, they do not go here.


When we moved in together, Chris and I talked briefly about my discomfort living in a house with illegal content of child abuse. For a number of reasons, Chris began therapy and, as far as he told me, he was discussing his attraction to seeing children harmed there. Shortly after, a hard drive of his crashed. Because of what it contained, Chris opted to completely re-write a play he'd been working on for a year and half instead of having it fixed. After that, the few times we discussed it, Chris told me he was no longer watching those videos at all. That anything he still had would have been destroyed with that drive. And Chris had a number of medical problems that strongly affected his libido and energy, all of which progressed fairly rapidly during the last few years.


Chris returned from hospital in early March this year after his toe amputation, clearly still unwell physically and mentally. He and I fought for a few days. He would step on a needle he'd left on the floor and quickly spiral into telling me we should both kill ourselves. It quickly became untenable.


I was unable to get through to him and I decided to leave. He went to sleep one night and I packed a bag. He woke up to go to the toilet. I panicked about him finding out and made an unwise decision to drink a fair bit of gin in about 30 minutes to calm down and gather my courage to leave. I vomited it up. Chris called an ambulance. The paramedics team cleared me immediately. But they called the police. The police interviewed me for over an hour and a half in the ambulance. They decided it would be unsafe for me to return to the house and filed a domestic abuse report on Chris. They also began an investigation into a crime that occurred during the work done in the Ponyboy Curtis company.


I returned home after around 10 days and am still here today.


The Friday before Chris was arrested, the police called to schedule my video interview for the police investigation into the crime related to PBC. Chris wasn't the prime suspect, but I still told him I would be doing the interview. Chris was livid.


For a fair number of months, Chris Goode and Company had promised to give me the pictures from the show during which the crime occurred, so I had the option to review them and/or share them with police if I wanted. 


The Monday night before Chris was arrested, he left to go away for work for a week. After our conversation on Friday, I realised he wasn't going to give me the photos I needed for my police interview on Friday. Tuesday morning, I checked the top hard drive on a stack he kept on his desk. I knew that stack would have had archival footage from PBC and should have had the photos I needed.


The first folder on that drive contained a large amount of illegal content, including video footage of young children being sexually assaulted by adults. It was not hidden or protected by a password. I found more content on the next two drives before I stopped looking.


That day, 4th May, I spent trying to get in touch with the charity Stop It Now and speaking with a close friend. What I learned was that there were no options for support or rehabilitation unless Chris was arrested. My choice became a binary one again. Silence or reporting Chris to the police.


I'm a fairly passionate advocate against police systems and carceral justice. And I also would not stay silent about a child being hurt, even if there was only the smallest chance that the content I turned in might help them be found or bring them or their families some justice.


The police arrived at my house around 2:30 am on 5 May, only a couple hours after I filed a report via 101. They confiscated over 20 hard drives, most at least 1-2 TB and a number of old computers, usb drives, and phones. The forensics team ran out of evidence bags. They arrested Chris by 5am at his work accommodations for the week. Most likely, Chris will not be charged posthumously. The investigations will continue.


In cases like this, the primary/reporting witness is also treated as a victim. For safeguarding reasons beyond my control, the police set Chris the bail conditions that he was not able to contact me in any way or come back to the flat.


Chris was due to be charged by 2nd June. However, the case detectives let him know that his bail would most likely be extended by at least three months, due to the time it would take to go through so much material.


Chris died while the application for his bail extension was in progress.


Early on the morning of 1st June, he ended his life.


The last time I saw or talked with Chris was the Monday night he left for work. We kissed, I told him I loved him, I told him I'd make one of his favourites, Dal Makhani, the night he came back


For many, many reasons, I still loved him when he died. 


And, also.


It is because of everything that happened--


 Because of the shame and the secrecy and the quiet and the immense pain, at nearly black-hole-infinite-density, and all we've seen it can do--


That is why I've decided to set out here what happened. I don't know how else we grieve. Not, I think, all trying to hold down the dark. 


I don't know how else we move on.


I'm done now. Not with grief or pain - that will take a very long time. But I'm done telling Chris's story for him. He's done a lot of that himself, sometimes beautifully, sometimes very misleadingly, sometimes both, sometimes neither.


But you can go and see that story elsewhere. If you want.


We now continue with our lives. Immensely interwoven with each other's, with Chris's, with the past and now and with grief and still breathing and finding what comes next.


Chris liked to say, "We'll find out by doing it." I don't know. But even if we don't find out, we continue.


There is no simple end to his life or his narrative or his legacy and there is no way to tell the whole thing. And I'm not here to even tell you my whole part of this story. Because his death doesn't make that story everyone's business. 


There will be no finale. As much as he may have wanted it, there are not a cast of players in his show to come out now and do the curtain call and -maybe, maybe if we're lucky- an encore. There was no show. There were just people.


And we continue.


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G.xx

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Stop It Now is a brilliant organisation that offers anonymous advice to anyone who wants to stop abusing children or watching/downloading illegal content of children. They also support family, friends, coworkers, etc, of anyone struggling with the use of images of children or sexually abusing children.


Refuge is a brilliant domestic violence charity, and they can be reached 24/7 for free on 08082000247


Galop is a fantastic organisation that supports any LGBTQ+ person experiencing violence from a partner, family members or friends, at work or school, or anywhere else. They can be reached on 0800 999 5428 10am - 5pm Monday, Tuesday, and Friday and 10am - 8pm Wednesday and Thursday


The Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123 for free, for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or planning suicide - or to talk about anything else that might be difficult for you at the moment. You do not have to feel suicidal to call.


My immense thanks to the above organisations for their support during the last several weeks.