At the police station that first afternoon, Guilhermino Encarnação had briefly mentioned three potential explanations for Madeleine’s disappearance: a burglary that had ‘changed direction’, abduction and the possibility that she had wandered off by herself.I can think of another, but we'll let that go for now
In the coming months we would learn that burglaries were rife on that stretch of the Algarve coast (in Praia da Luz, burglars were ‘like mice’, according to one resident), and although it is difficult to imagine how a burglary could escalate into an abduction, we now know that this is not unheard of.Oh yes - every burglar I know goes about tooled up to sedate small children
However, I have always found the third suggestion insulting to our intelligence, frankly.Oh, here we go again.
Why is it insulting? It happens all the time. Children wander. They have no sense of danger, no ability to assess risk and at that age have an amazing strength/weight ratio. Get out of a cot? Piece of piss. Scale a child-proof gate? Hold my milk.
This view of Madeleine's supposed inability to exit under her own steam is greatly at odds with Katie's little chat with her friends about leaving the door open so Madeleine could come looking for them, or Clarence's imbecilic suggestion that the door was left open in case of fire, at which point Madeleine would presumably marshal the others out in an orderly fashion.
The ability of children to get themselves into trouble is why we don't leave the little fuckers home alone
Obviously, the police are obliged to consider all possible scenarios but there was no doubt in our minds that Madeleine had not left that apartment of her own accord.Of course there wasn't.
For a start there was Jane’s sighting of what was, in all likelihood, Madeleine being carried off.Nope.
Even if you set that aside, there was no way a three-year-old would have been able to raise the shutters and open the window in the children’s room.But Kate, surely those had been forced from the outside by the fingerprint-less burglar?
To give any credence whatsoever to the idea that Madeleine could have walked out on her own you would have to accept that she had gone out the back way, pulling aside the sitting-room curtains and drawing them again, then opening the patio door, the child-safety gate at the top of the stairs on the veranda and the little gate to the road – and carefully closing all three behind her. What three-year-old do you know who would do that?All of them.
And we knew our Madeleine. She simply would not wander off like this....if she knew what was good for her
This theory was not only insulting, it was, much more importantly, frighteningly damaging to the chances of finding Madeleine quickly.Insulting. Why is it insulting? It happens, so they have to consider it, you crabby witch.
If the police were wasting precious time pursuing it they were not going to be looking in the right places, or taking the appropriate type of action.ie, going in the direction we suggested, Africa, Antarctica and Amsterdam
In the first few days we gained the impression that this was exactly what was happening. Certainly their initial searches were all geared to looking for a stray child who had become lost in or around Luz.Because that's what police the world over do, you ungrateful cow. They clear the ground under their feet first. How fucking DARE you presume to tell them how to do their job, when you absolutely sucked at yours?
We would later hear from the British police that it took until 10am on Friday, almost twelve hours after the alarm was raised, for roadblocks and checks to be put in place.Well don't lose a kid then
And it would be five more days before Interpol circulated a ‘yellow notice’ (global alert) to each of its member countries.When has that EVER happened in a missing child case? All it does is create additional bullshit sightings and more work.
We subsequently learned that less than fifty minutes after Jane’s sighting – when I had still to discover that Madeleine was missing – a family of nine from Ireland had also seen a man carrying a child, this time on Rua da Escola Primária, a few minutes’ walk from apartment 5A, heading towards Rua 25 de Abril. Their description was remarkably similar to Jane’s. The man was in his mid thirties, 1.75 to 1.8 metres tall and of slim to normal build. These witnesses, too, said this person didn’t look like a tourist. They couldn’t quite put their finger on why, but again they felt it might have been because of what he was wearing. They also mentioned cream or beige trousers. The child, a little girl of about four with medium-blonde hair, was lying with her head towards the man’s left shoulder. She was wearing light-coloured pyjamas, had nothing on her feet and there was no blanket over her. Although, like Jane, this family had taken this man and child for father and daughter,*Tries not to laugh out loud. Fails miserably*
they commented that the man did not look comfortable carrying the child, as if he wasn’t used to it.Lazy bastard.
*They had absolutely no powers whatsoever to prevent them leaving and a system had already been put in place for the UK police to followup with them
Saturday 5 May was the day we should have been going home, as many other Mark Warner guests were doing. The police would just allow all these people to leave the country without delaying any departures to interview potential witnesses – or even, perhaps, potential suspects.
Our own friends remained at the Ocean Club. They took it as read that they ought to stay around to be available to the police, but in any case, I’m sure they wouldn’t have dreamed of flying back to the UK without us in these awful circumstances.I would have. Although I'd be worried you would stick the knife in me the minute I was gone.
Gerry and I awoke at four o’clock that morning, having slept for barely a couple of hours, still feeling wretched and utterly abandoned by the PJ in Portimão.Utterly abandoned?!
They had dropped them back off only a few hours earlier, provided them with mobile numbers to call and spoken to them on the phone. Ungrateful bitch.
Both verging on hysteria, we were incapable of comforting each other. It was clear we were struggling to keep our heads above water.Why? Not enough attention?
Having been so late back from the police station the previous evening, we’d decided to wait until morning to meet the trauma psychologist, Alan Pike. But by this point we realized that we needed help urgently.
Just before 5am Gerry rang Craig Mayhew, the Mark Warner overseas manager, and asked if Alan would be able to come and see us. He was at the door of our apartment by 6am.Yes, why not share the misery and call people at 5am?
Alan is a clinical partner at the Centre for Crisis Psychology, pioneers in psychological trauma aftercare following disasters at home and abroad. They have worked with the families and survivors of the Bradford fire, the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks and the 2004 tsunami, to name just a few. Alan himself, we would learn, had been involved in the aftermath of, among other horrors, coach crashes in Gran Canaria, Cuba and South Africa, three hurricanes and the terrorist bombing at Sharm el Sheikh two years earlier.Not bad for someone with few qualifications
Alan must be used to seeing people in states of profound distress, and he certainly found two in apartment 4G at the Ocean Club. By this stage I was beginning to feel that there just wasn’t any way up. He started by asking us about our home, our family and our normal lives. He told us we seemed like model parents. IJesus fucking christ
cannot overstate how much such kind reassurance meant to us at that moment. We were both feeling so desperately guilty.Good.
Whatever we had or had not done right,Had or had not done? Still can't accept you were in the wrong, can you,Katie?
we were Madeleine’s parents and in our own eyes we had failed to keep her safe. We struggled to bear that sense of guilt and we always will.Quite rightly.
Alan got us talking, encouraging us to try to think rationally about what we were saying, and we talked a lot, for several hours. We faced our biggest fear: that Madeleine had been taken by a paedophile and killed. This was the only scenario occupying our minds just then. Alan pointed out to us that these thoughts could be no more than speculation. We didn’t know what had happened. We needed to avoid focusing on the negative and channel everything into looking forwards. ‘Madeleine might walk through that door at any minute,’ he said. ‘You need to be ready for that.’I find this very difficult to understand.
It is the complete antithesis of what the police do - they know that if they haven't found a child alive in the first 24 hours, they likely never will. Usually, they will start to prepare the parents for this likelihood as early as possible, not sustain them with false hope.
He discussed with us the importance of taking control of things, little by little, starting with tiny actions as simple as making ourselves a cup of tea. The effect our conversation with Alan had on us that morning was truly amazing. To say it helped would be a gross understatement. Any scepticism we might have had before about how a psychologist could possibly benefit us personally has long gone. Alan was, and remains, a saviour.I have often wondered how accurate a reflection this actually is of the dialogue between them. It is as if they seized upon something he said and used it to create a smokescreen that they were being brave and positive and ''keeping hope alive'' when what he had succeeded in doing was providing them with a cover story for why they were not showing behaviour more redolent of terrified parents tortured by thoughts of what was happening to their child