I was on the swings in the park, waiting for my brothers Martin and Nabby to show up and totally oblivious to the evil lurking beside me.
Standing just a short distance away, her head leaning slightly to one side, a young blonde woman gave me a coy look and the briefest of smiles. Behind her stood a man, his hand in his overcoat pocket as he dragged on his cigarette and stared over in my direction.
Little did I know, these strangers were sadistic killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady who had marked me out as their next young victim.
The man and woman stopped about 15 yards away from me and had a brief conversation before she turned suddenly and headed over to the swings. She stopped and I let the swing slow.
I could smell her heavy perfume and hairspray. Standing face-on to me, hands dug deep into her coat pockets, the woman looked me up and down. She said nothing and instead threw me a quick smile which I returned, letting her know I felt comfortable in her presence and was approachable. She then stepped a little closer with a bright wide smile spread across her face.
"You're a bit too young to be out in the dark by yourself aren't you?" she said.
"I'm seven and a bit." I said proudly. "An' I'm not scared of the dark."
"You don't have to be," she said, moving a little closer to the swings, while I used my foot to keep it gently moving backwards and forwards. "I'm not either."
There was a brief lull in the conversation before she continued, "Haven't seen you round these parts before. What street are you from?"
My address rolled off my tongue off by heart, just as my sister Helen had taught all of us to remember it, until it had been ingrained on our brains.
"Hulme!" The woman seemed quite surprised and looked back over her shoulder in the direction of the man. "The lad's from Hulme!"
"Hurry up!" The man spoke impatiently.
"You hungry?" she asked. "You look hungry."
Bringing the swing to a halt, I nodded. She walked the few yards to me and placed her hand on the swing's chain. "What's the little lad's name then?"
"Tommy." She didn't tell me her name.
It would be months later, as I watched a TV news programme about the arrest of two suspected child killers that I discovered she was called Myra Hindley and her male companion was Ian Brady. "How about a jam buttie? Then we'll get you straight home?" She raised her dark eyebrows enticingly and I nodded my agreement. "Come on then Tommy!' She shook the swing chain.
She had not seemed any different from the people I met while out begging on the streets with my brothers and sisters. So when the woman invited me to follow her back to her grandmother's house in Gorton for a slice of bread and jam, it was nothing out of the ordinary. And so I agreed to go with her, following her through the ever-darkening streets on the edge of Longsight, with the man a short distance behind us.
We were heading back into Gorton to a house that I had believed offered a place of safety and a bite to eat. In reality, I was, in fact, walking between two evil child killers who had other ideas for me.
The roads along the way were relatively quiet, with only the odd car passing us by.
Throughout our journey we walked along streets that were familiar to me from my scavenging expeditions. And despite the mix-match of gas and electric streetlights, this part of Gorton had seemed slighter better in some parts than those parts of Hulme where I roamed, though it still radiated the same dismal, dank atmosphere along its endless dark and relatively silent corridors of streets and alleyways.
Turning off the main street, Hindley paused for a moment, allowing me to get closer to her. By the time I had hurried the short distance to reach her, she'd already opened the front door of her house, beckoning to me with her gloved hand to come quickly. And I upped my pace to her. Ian Brady suddenly appeared from nowhere and was beside me, his hand on my shoulder, guiding me gently through the open doorway and into the house. I looked straight up at him and our eyes had met briefly.
Turning his gaze away from mine, Brady closed the front door behind us.
Following Hindley through the house in to a back room, with Brady following close behind me, I stood watching her as she took off her black leather gloves and dropped them on to the table top.
Undoing her coat, she then took off her pink scarf and a long black silk neck scarf she'd had tucked inside her coat. She hung the black scarf over the back of one of three old chairs around the table, which stood beneath the sash window overlooking the back of the house. Hindley invited me over to sit down, and I sat on the frayed seat of the chair opposite the one over which she had hung her scarves.
My back was to the fireplace and I was facing a small alcove with an open doorway that led off into what I assumed to be the kitchen. Despite the house feeling much warmer, dryer and devoid of that distinctive damp smell that lingered inside my home, I was surprised at how dreary the place looked and felt, considering both Hindley and Brady, by appearance, were smartly dressed people with a self- assured confidence about them. Myra Hindley, especially oozed what I could only describe as a childlike charm, despite her age.
It was here in the back room that I could smell a mixture of stale tobacco and alcohol mingled with whiffs of Hindley's hairspray. On the table were some empty glass tumblers alongside a small saucer that had been used as an ashtray and was full with tipped and untipped cigarette ends. Over to my right stood an old wooden cabinet with a couple of small framed photographs plus other odds and sods on the top.
Brady walked into the kitchen without saying a word. I smiled at Myra Hindley. She lit a cigarette and blew a plume of fresh smoke across the room, before dropping the Ten Park Drive cigarette packet down onto the table top and returning my smile. I liked her, especially her smile, which made her blue eyes light up.
"Do you have brothers and sisters? Won't your mam be going up the wall? What are you doing so far away from home?" Jaysus! She was as bad as the coppers!
"Me Mammy's gone off and left us on our own and she wouldn't give a shite if she never set eyes on the lot of us again. And me Daddy's in prison and I hate him and wouldn't care if I never saw him again!" was the answer I wanted to give. But none of us ever spoke about the goings-on within our family because to us that would have been worse than committing an original sin. So Yes or No was about the best Hindley was going to get out of me.
She walked away from the table just as Brady came out and hung his coat on a hook screwed onto a smaller door under the stairs, leading either to a cellar or a cupboard. Hindley hung her coat over his, before the pair of them walked off into the kitchen together.
I could hear their low muffled voices but not what they were saying. Not that I was particularly interested in their conversation. As usual, my only reason for being in the house was on the promise of a bite to eat.
I heard Myra Hindley suddenly speak sharply before lowering her voice. And for some unknown reason, this unsettled me. I wasn't able to understand why I felt this way. It wasn't fear. There was nothing in my thoughts that had made me feel afraid of anything in particular.
Brady and Hindley somehow didn't seem to fit the house, in the sense that everything around me had given me a feeling of much older people. The furniture, the décor, everything about the room had seemed too old for such a smartly dressed young couple.
Hindley walked back out of the kitchen and plonked the plate down on the table. She'd a glass in the other hand with a dark red liquid drink inside, which she took a swig of as I looked down, wide-eyed and my mouth watering, at the large inviting knocker of bread thickly coated in red jam.
"Hurry up and get that down you and we'll get you off home," she said. And I immediately smelled the alcohol from her breath. Hindley then left the room, leaving her glass on the sideboard and I heard her footsteps walking up the stairs.
Alone with just the tick-tock-ticking of the mantle clock for company, I pulled the plate over to me and noticed straight away, perhaps somewhat disappointed, that the thick slice of bread had not been buttered.
Usually I would have been tucking into this kind offering by now, but instead, I had been throwing questions at myself. Had I just imagined that the young woman seemed slightly apprehensive, almost nervous? And certainly not as talkative or as cocksure of herself as she had been before.
Had I noticed her hand tremble slightly as she'd dropped the plate onto the table instead of placing it there? Had I imagined that the warmth in her piercing blue eyes had diminished, leaving them slightly cold looking and distant I couldn't help, but feel how the atmosphere had changed since first walking into the house.
I started to feel cold, which was unlike me, because even in the winter I didn't really feel the cold that much. But here in this house, I had begun to feel a different kind of coldness, the kind that seemed to creep slowly inside my skin, gripping me tight and not wanting to let me go.
It is hard to put into words the awful feelings swirling around inside me. I became very unsure of my surroundings and I began questioning why I was sitting in this house in the first place. my senses on red alert, I had an overwhelming sense of panic all the way down in the pit of my stomach, so I almost felt like vomiting.
These two people had shown me only kindness and yet I knew I could not accept their kindness. I had a frantic urge to leave the house - and quickly!
So. Now, Brady is finally gone... Did he take any secrets to the grave? I think so.
Though I suspect one of those secrets is not the whereabouts of Keith Bennett.
Did I wish him dead? Am I happy he is dead?
For many years, this evil excuse for a human being has lived a life tormented by the knowledge he would never be free to walk beyond the walls of his prison or breathe the fresh air of freedom. Just for that reason alone, no. I have never wished him dead.
My own emotions, when hearing of his death were very mixed. It was a surreal moment for me. Taking account of the circumstances this man had died under - I felt sadness [dare I say, pity]. But these were not emotions for him!
They were for those who suffered the consequences of his actions. Actions which had not only deprived these young children, of their own opportunity to grow up and feel the love and freedom life would have offered to them, but also deprived families of stealing that final kiss.
It is my belief there are further unaccounted victims of these two depraved monsters. But in my heart, I do believe he didn't even know the whereabouts of Keith Bennett's remains, I also believe that other remains will probably be found. But only time can tell us that. His time has gone. Hindley's time had already gone. But the families and relatives are left with time to ponder life's reasons why. And it is for them that my heart feels sad.
This is an edited excerpt from Tommy Rhattigan's book 1963 A Slice Of Bread and Jam. To order your copy priced £7.99 visit Mirror Collection or call 0845 143 0001 .
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