Jumping off her jumper. When a novice police community support officer (the novices’ novice) threatened and cajoled Amanda Hutton into opening the door of her Bradford home, apart from Hutton’s matted hair, the smell of drink and the stench of god knows what, the PCSO noticed there were flies buzzing around her.
Upstairs in a travel cot lay the mummified body of Hamzah Khan. Dressed in a babygro; though he would have been six years old by then if his mother hadn’t allowed him to die of starvation nearly two years earlier.
In her blue tiled kitchen the white cupboards – still-shiny doorknobs like little golden-eyes – looked down in astonishment as Hutton’s seven other children picked their way through the rubbish piled up on the floor; this and every other floor in the house.
The witch, the bitch, that Mother’s a Medusa with Snakes in Her Hair. Worse than monstrous: even Grendel’s mother cared for her kid; she went after Beowulf to avenge him. Whereas Hutton was truly wretched: hadn’t the energy to lift her boy’s body out of his cot and give him a decent burial.
Flies wouldn’t let her alone,
She was one of their own,
The Walking Dead.
On trial, Hutton claimed that when Hamzah died she held him ‘for quite a long time.’ Maybe she had hated having another one – the last of eight children with her estranged ‘Paki’ partner; and especially this brat with a name like a ‘terrorist’ (Hamza[h]: more Captain Hook than Peter Pan). Perhaps only then – now holding the baby who’d never been allowed to grow into his mother’s love – did she regret the neglect more than she hated herself for having borne him.
‘I was completely numb,’ she explained. ‘As each day went by, I just found it harder and harder to do anything about it.’
Transfixed (like the police officer who was also ‘transfixed’ when he found Hamzah’s corpse). Immobilised. Petrified. A gargantuan effort – monstrous – even to the lay the body down in the travel cot.