I’ve been holding this tale for the weekend. Though I found the article in one of British papers I read every day, it’s nice to see the NY TIMES has picked it up. Some editor has a heart for a good cop.
When she went blind as a result of diabetes, Trish Vickers set out to fill the void in her life by writing poetry. Then she turned to writing a novel, her pen guided by a system of elastic bands stretched across the paper. With 26 pages written, and a plot that turned on a woman whose life implodes, she began to dream of finding a publisher.
Then the dream imploded, too. When her son Simon visited her at her home, near the town of Lyme Regis in the Thomas Hardy country of Dorset, she showed him what she had written, and he gave her the bad news: Every page was blank. Her pen had run out of ink before she began, and what remained was an empty manuscript, void of all her imagination had captured.
Then came a twist in the story of a kind that would serve in one of the detective stories that have entertained mystery buffs for generations: Mrs. Vickers, 59, and her son turned to the forensic service of the Dorset County police.
After five months’ work, done on her lunch breaks, one of the experts there, a woman usually set to helping solve cases of murder, arson and fraud, cracked the case, delivering a typescript of all the missing pages to the bereft author.
“I am so happy, pleased and grateful,” Mrs. Vickers said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “Being blind is very restrictive as far as going anywhere. I have always been interested in writing. I have one of those imaginations that run riot. Everybody who has read it so far seems to like it, and the police also said they enjoyed the bit they read and can’t wait for the rest…”
“It was nice to do something for somebody, and it was nice to read the book as well,” said Kerry Savage, the forensic specialist. “Fortunately, apart from one line, we managed to retrieve the whole lot.”
As interesting as anything else is the fact that Trish Vickers and her son had to turn to the local coppers for technological aid rather than, say, a library or university. I guess most Western societies haven’t a problem coming up with funding for police when they might be giving short shrift to education. One of those cultural phenomena where the UK and US are as alike as two peas in a pod.