‘The Carnival Is Over’ was a 60s song by The Seekers and told a romantic story of short-lived but life-changing romance. Our carnival is over because of murder at the Carnival, which sounds more like an Agatha Christie title, doesn’t it? Sadly, Gloucester Carnival really is over, cancelled because of the violent and purposeless murder of a vulnerable 50-year-old man.
The Carnival runs for two weeks every Summer and this year, like every other, was due to climax with a massive firework display next Sunday night. Last Sunday evening, on my way to a meeting, I passed the park which should have been bustling with families and friends, young and old alike, facepainters and the facepainted, bands, clowns and all the other happy ingredients for a community celebration. Instead, the park gates were taped shut by Police, four Police vans patrolled the area and part of the road, a main artery of the City, was closed for forensic examination. The fairground rides stood silently at one end and abandoned gazebos and marquees lined the other. It was eerie and depressing. A man with a dog stood talking to Police officers who were explaining that the area was closed until further notice and he and his dog turned for home, their usual stroll in the park declined.
The lives of at least four families are forever changed following a terrifying chase and brutal stabbing. Why is life considered cheap these days? And all this just over two miles from our home. It chills me to think my son was very near there as the murder was happening, thankfully at a friend’s house; thank heavens they didn’t decide to visit the Carnival.
Why four families? Two men and a woman remain in custody in relation to the murder. I wonder how their families are feeling right now; I can’t imagine how deeply it cuts to know your child has taken a life.
I heard someone comment later that their friend’s 3-year-old child had been in the procession and was supposed to be in the later one too. No more. How do you explain to all the young children who’ve been preparing for months that it’s off? So much effort goes into bringing people together for the Summer Carnival, abruptly negated by senseless, thoughtless violence.
The imposing statue in the park is Robert Raikes (1736 – 1811), an English philanthropist who promoted Sunday schools which pre-dated the first schools of the English state school system. Fascinated by it and always wondering if it would come to life, after our session in the playground, my son always insisted on saying ‘hello’ to Robert on our way home.
I can’t help feeling we need the vision and caring for the young of this influential man now more than ever.
If you’re the murderer(s), my goodness you need help. If you’re the family of the murdered man, my heartfelt healing thoughts go out to you and, if the murderer is your child, may you find peace. And the victim? He’s surely experiencing the loving healing and understanding he was denied by Mankind. God bless.