King John was not a good man, he had his little ways,
and sometimes no one spoke to him for days and days and days. A, A.Milne
You’ll remember Brian of course, who can ever forget a good ‘Cause Célèbre’? And I always think of those lines by A.A. Milne whenever anyone mentions Brian, because Brian wasn’t a good man, though he wasn’t all bad, few people are, and he certainly had his little ways, no doubt about that! And being a bit of a loner, sometimes not even his wife spoke to him. The problem was that Brian wasn’t so much ‘not a good man’ as a socially inept. I guess this could have been some form of autism or aspergers but I really wouldn’t know, but I’m sure that a psychiatrist would tell you that the problem lay in his childhood. That doesn’t really concern us here, because we are not going to worry about cause, we are concerned with the result, so I’ll go with socially inept. I know that you’ll all have heard something of the story, the lurid reports in the papers, and there was that television programme that was so bland and wishy washy that I wondered whether the makers knew anything of the affair at all, and of course there was all the gossip and the stuff that was made up just to make the story go further. So what do I know? Well, I was probably the nearest thing Brian had to a friend, that is, up to a point that will become obvious later. So knowing Brian, and his mother and in-laws and of course Margaret, I’ve put the story together, filling in with a few informed guesses here and there.
Brian was into computers at school, and many would describe him as a nerd, although that term wasn’t in common usage at the time, and it does conjure up a vision of a fat pimply unattractive boy. Nothing could be further from the truth, he was in fact tall and slim and not bad looking, but for some reason had difficulty in relating to other kids, boys or girls. Perhaps part of the problem lay in the fact that he was born and brought up by his widowed mother in a small village where there were few other children of his age, and the ones there were tended to be tough and physical, and interested in taking up careers in farming or similar things, which Brian certainly wasn’t. He did well at school and went on to the college in the nearest big town, where he studied what was then the comparatively new subject of Information Technology, or computers and computing to the rest of us. He was fortunate in that the college was able to take this to degree level because it was unlikely that he would have left home to go to university; you see, he was tied firmly to his mother’s apron strings.
After college Brian got himself a job with a national insurance company that had their headquarters in a the same town as his college. His job consisted of looking after their somewhat rudimentary IT systems, and in a couple of years he had worked himself into a position where he was advising them on what they should be doing for the future, although how much notice they took of him is debatable, but that’s big corporations for you. All of this meant that he had a very respectable salary, had purchased himself a nice car and looked set to climb the corporate ladder. It was unfortunate that he was still socially inept. In his evenings and at weekends Brian built computers for people, and was building up a nice little business of his own, and this was how I got to know him again. I say again because we had been at school together in the nearby market town, although there was no more to it than knowing who he was, because, well, that was Brian. I was building my own business and needed to use computers to keep things under control and do design work.
It was around this time that Brian met Margaret. Now, that would indicate that they were introduced, but living in a small village they already knew each other and had spoken in the past, but Margaret’s parents had sent her to a different school in another small town because they had been told by her uncle, who was the caretaker at Brian’s school, that the children at that school were very badly behaved, and only interested in doing ... well you know. The truth was that there was no difference between them and any other kids, but he was a miserable old git who disliked children and believed they were all badly behaved. So this meant that they had had little contact. Add to this that Margaret’s social skills were, at that time, little better than Brian’s and you have the recipe for a train wreck. The train wreck happened in slow stages, as most do, when a series of errors eventually come together. In this case it all started at one New Year.
The village had, as so many do, a hall which had originally been the village school which had closed years before, and been taken over for social events. The event in this case was a New Year’s Eve dance. Neither Brian nor Margaret wanted to go to the dance but in both cases their mothers had insisted. And that set the wreck in motion. The next stage was that some wit had laced the fruit punch with vodka, which meant that after a couple of glasses everyone was ... slightly less inhibited, and at this point Brian asked Margaret to dance. Brian, as I have said, was quite good looking and no one else had asked her, so Margaret was happy to accept. After a couple of dances Margaret was feeling a little dizzy and Brian suggested that he take her outside. Now I never did get Brian’s version of what happened, but Margaret had no idea why she allowed certain liberties to be taken which ended up with her losing her virginity, along with some of the skin on her bum, removed by being repeatedly rubbed against a brick wall. As I say, what Brian got out of the act I’ve no idea, but Margaret certainly obtained no pleasure from it. But she did have an uncomfortable sticky mess in her knickers which she certainly did not want, and something else that she wanted even less. Within a few hours an egg was waylaid by a waiting sperm and she was pregnant, although she wasn’t aware of this until a while later. The train wreck could still have been stopped, but all three parents insisted that Brian and Margaret get married. The final collision happened on a sunny March Saturday.
When Margaret informed her mother that she was likely to become a grandmother in the near future, and who the father was, her mother assumed that her daughter had performed an act of entrapment, and was perfectly happy about it. Brian had a good job, a good income and her less than pretty daughter could be said to have done well for herself. Margaret, however, was rather less certain about it, but not really in a position to argue.
Margaret had been a pretty child, but as she entered her teen years she put on some weight. Not a large amount but it really didn’t suit her, and at the point of the wreck it would have not been unfair to describe her as homely. It’s an odd thing, but many overweight girls are very attractive, indeed I know several who could be described thus and one in particular who one would class as a beauty. But this was not the case with Margaret. It was probably this fact that had emboldened Brian to ask her to dance, believing, probably correctly, that the more attractive girls would turn him down.
After the wedding the not particularly happy couple moved in with Brian’s mother. This would generally be a recipe for disaster, but not in this case, the two women were very happy together, his mother had always wanted a daughter and Margaret was happy to fill that role. Whilst Brian was a whizz at his job, and his computer building, he was pretty useless at pleasing a woman and Margaret never obtained any pleasure from sex with him. This meant that their martial relations gradually ground to a halt. When the baby arrived he was doted on by all the grandparents and Margaret basked in reflected glory. Brian carried on working although it wasn’t long before his lack of social skills started to hold him back.
His mother’s property was in fact a farm, and since the death of his father she had let the land to a neighbour, she did however retain the yard and the barns, and decided that one of these could be converted into a couple of holiday cottages. Brian suggested that she contact me to do the design and this was how I met Margaret. I found her to be a bright and intelligent woman but she had put on a bit more weight after having the baby and although I liked her, I didn’t really fancy her. Once planning permission was obtained I was contracted to do the work, and by the summer following the wedding the cottages were complete and the customers started to arrive. During the course of the work I had to liaise closely with Margaret, often discussing details over coffee, and I began to find her more attractive as a person, so I was sorry when the job was finished and I would no longer see her. But she was a married lady and when it came to the fair sex I was rarely short of company. Mother and Margaret had done a lot of work making curtains and choosing furnishings and finishes and they would share the work of getting the cottages cleaned and ready for occupation. Brian had taken over an adjacent building as an office and workshop for his computers and had obtained a good internet connection, which Margaret also used via wifi to the router which was situated in the highest point of the farmhouse roof and covered the entire yard. I would get emails from her when there was maintenance work to be done.
The lack of marital relations, something I was totally unaware of at the time, led Brian to the internet to satisfy his sexual urges. Here he discovered many different variations, preferences, perversions, but basically he discovered voyeurism and it didn’t take him long to realise that there was a potential source of material right next to him in the holiday cottages. If he could get anything out of this it would be ‘amateur’ stuff which was what he really preferred. During the winter he carefully concealed tiny CCTV cameras in each room, and at the same time he increased the wattage of the lighting to provide as much light as possible for the cameras. All this was connected to a large screen computer with a large hard drive. There were motion sensors on the cameras to ensure that hard drive space wasn’t wasted on empty rooms, and he would get everything that went on. Whether Brian actually realised that this was illegal is questionable, but if he did, he didn’t let that worry him.
It must have been around this time, in early spring, that I got an email from Margaret asking me if I could come and give the place a ‘once over’ just to check that everything was in order. The boiler was oil fired and they had a local chap to do that, but what she said was that some of the paintwork required attention and just bits and pieces. Now let’s be honest she could have very easily done this herself, but if a client calls, you have to go. When I got there I almost didn’t recognise her. Over the last summer and through the winter she had lost all the weight that she didn’t need and her face had fined down, and her figure was positively svelt ... in a word she had now become a beauty, absolutely gorgeous. The change was so dramatic that I was frozen for a moment, and she started to giggle and told me to close my mouth, then turned and led the way into the first cottage. She pointed out various bits that needed a little attention in that one, and then a few in the second. I told her I would get it done. Was I going to do it myself she asked, to which I said that I thought I would. Her face lit up in a big smile. She took me into the farmhouse kitchen where Mother was making coffee. Margaret continued to be flirtatious and I’m sure Brian’s mum noticed, but she just had an enigmatic smile on her face. When I left Margaret came out to see me off, reached up and gave me a kiss. This whole thing put me in a major dilemma. I had, as I have already said, developed a great fondness for her, and now, well, she was making all the ‘right’ signs, except they were the wrong signs, she was drop dead gorgeous, but she was a married lady and I just wasn’t going there.
I did wonder quite what was going on, because I knew that Brian had always been attached to his mum’s apron strings, but mother seemed perfectly happy for her daughter-in-law to make eyes at another man. Had Brian fallen out of favour, and if so why? Or perhaps if she got rid of her daughter-in-law then she would have Brian back all to herself, but somehow that didn’t seem right.
When the first people arrived at the cottages shortly after I had touched up the paintwork, just the paintwork despite there being a clear offer of other things, Brian was delighted to find that his systems worked, and worked very well. Unfortunately it didn’t produce anything of any interest, partly because the couple who were staying there were in their sixties and didn’t do anything ‘interesting’, and remained largely covered by clothing. So he was all set for when ‘more interesting’ people arrived.
Brian checked the recordings every evening when he got home, of course most of it was simply deleted, who wants to watch people doing ordinary every day things such as unpacking, and cooking, and all those things that need to be done. The recordings from the bathroom were often fascinating, particularly when the shower was being used by the women. He split up the recordings into different folders with women using the bathroom in one, children in another and one for men, similarly showers, and undressing were also in different categories. It was a couple of weeks before he got real action other than under the covers and that caused him some excitement. By the end of the season he had a large quantity of high quality video, some of couples making love, some of women who were very atractive in the buff, some of young girls and boys, his collection was quite eclectic, and there were some fascinating videos of a boy and girl, about thirteen and twelve he thought, who basically spent a week acting like a couple of mink whilst their parents did the same in their own room.
Whilst Margaret had lost weight it was almost as though she had passed it on to Brian, who was now looking like the stereotype nerd that he had avoided when he was younger. He got little exercise except for his left hand as he sat for hours viewing his hoard of illicit pornographic material.
Some time that winter Brian made a decision that almost anyone would have said was a really bad one. Seriously ridiculous, and stupid. He set up his own pay to view website and uploaded the better stuff from his collection. The only sensible thing he did was not uploading anything to do with children, despite the fact that the two youngsters going at it like mink would have made a fortune. The stuff that was on the website was enough to provide a very nice income. Brian was, of course, aware that if he was caught the law would attempt to seize his assets and he quietly converted his gains into bitcoin. It was unlikely that anyone would get past his additional layers of encryption, even if they found which computer to use.
So all was going well and for a while none of the visitors recognised themselves. Brian’s downfall was his detachment from the real world, if you asked him who the prime minister was he probably wouldn’t know, much less recognise that august personage. So when a government minister booked in, incognito it has to be said – or just using a false name, with a foreign sounding lady who he claimed was his wife, Brian’s only reaction was that he was getting some really good footage. It was particularly unfortunate that it wasn’t just a minister, but a junior minister in the Ministry of Defence. Because he was junior he didn’t get too much press coverage and Margaret and mum also failed to recognise him. Junior he may have been, but within a month he would be promoted to Minister of Defence. The lady would take a little longer to identify, but she certainly wasn’t his wife. The footage Brian had was so good he could hardly wait to get it uploaded, although he did wait until the couple had left.
The antics of the soon to be Minister and his lady friend were very popular, they were good looking and athletic and enjoyed a full range of adult pleasures, to the point one had to take ones hat off out of respect for their stamina. As you may well guess, once the Minister had been appointed the doo doos hit the fan, it didn’t take too long for someone to recognise him, and shortly thereafter for Mr Plod to become involved, and the red top press were hard on their heels, joined with slightly more circumspection by the broadsheets. The Minister at first claimed the lady was Polish, but then denied all knowledge of her, and also suggested that it wasn’t him but a doppelganger on the video. Polish the lady might have claimed to be, but her passport said that she hailed from somewhere slightly further east, and she was intercepted at Heathrow planning to board an Aeroflot flight whose destination was, surprise surprise, Moscow, although heaven forfend that I should suggest what the lady’s profession might be from the obvious choice of two. Or both. The police obviously had to examine all the content of the website, not of course out of purely prurient interest, they were looking for clues as to location, but eventually the Minister had to admit where the footage had to have been taken.
How Brian knew that something was amiss I have no idea, I can only imagine that he had something that could tell him, possibly the fact that whoever had logged on was downloading everything. Whatever, he immediately shut the site down, uploaded all the stuff he had to somewhere, in the ‘cloud’ I thought, and wiped everything from his computers, and I mean really wiped. He could not, of course remove the cameras from the cottages, but he had made it as difficult as he could for the police, and of course the security services who were involved particularly because of the lady. Brian didn’t have to wait long for a lot of very stern faced gentlemen to arrive, together with miles of blue and white tape, lots of black uniforms and men in white paper overalls. The press were close behind them, this was a Story. Their arrival at 06.00 was timed to be as inconvenient as possible.
All three adults were taken to different police stations and charge of the little boy, Tom, was taken by a social worker who took him to Margaret’s mother. The people who were staying in the cottages were less than amused, and there were a number of suggestions that even the senior officers parents had been unmarried, a suggestion most of us would agree with, particularly when the people were given just sufficient time to dress and had to leave their belongings behind so that they could be searched. These people were thoroughly questioned, the police working on the principle that if you shake a tree hard enough some of the fruit will fall. Of course all these people were completely innocent, at least as far as this affair was concerned.
It took a week before they released Margaret and her mother-in-law. They were, of course, in different towns, both without money or phones. The police did take them home where they found the main house in total disarray and the cottages practically wrecked. Fortunately the main phone was still working and Margaret called me. Every electronic device had been removed, with the exception of the router for the internet, possibly because no one noticed it, I don’t know. Even their mobile phones were taken, and without a computer or a phone it was impossible to deal with the bank or the letting site or even order groceries. The press had of course followed the police car bringing them home, determined to make a bad situation worse in order to titillate their readers, but there was still a police guard at the gate and there was little they could do.
Quite why Margaret called me first I’m not really sure, well, no, actually I think she felt that I could provide the support she needed, and certainly her second call was to her mother. It took me an hour or so to get there by which time her mother and father had arrived, obviously wanting to know what the hell was going on, since a week had passed and they knew nothing other than what was shown on television, or written in the papers. The most unfortunate thing about that was that neither Margaret nor her mother-in-law could tell them very much because all they knew was what they had worked out from the questioning they had undergone, they had seen neither television nor papers. In fact her parents actually knew more about it than they did and shared that knowledge with them. What was obvious was that whatever had gone on, Brian was responsible for it.