I've tried hard to write something positive regarding this case. The only thing I can come up with is that Madeleine appeared to be loved and cared for in the majority of the photographs we've seen of her. However, I just cant get past the itinerary that the McCann children followed on that fateful 'family holiday'.
It made me think of my own family holidays and in particular the Isle of Man, the 70s when I was the same age as Madeleine. This was a family family holiday, my parents were most definitely there to enjoy themselves - they had worked hard and earned that break.
I was never left with anyone. I was never left alone. My parents holiday was my holiday too.
I remember the clippetty clop and horse smell as we travelled in the horse-drawn tram along the prom, the sunlight shimmering on the pebbles as we rowed our boat in the crystal clear sea. Every day we collected shells and trawled the beach. I remember laughing at my acrophobic Mother as she struggled to get past the first flight of steps up to the Laxey Wheel and screaming at my Father as I took my first horrifying donkey ride. Eager anticipation as I looked out the window of the electric railway, as we travelled all the way to the tea-room at the top of Snaefell... and the customers shouting in unison SHUT THE DOOR as I opened it to see Manannan's cloak of mist and several sheep trying to get inside. I remember dragging my parents again and again to the rock shop, to see the masters at work creating... sticks of rock, then insisting on visiting the bakers next door for the biggest scones ever with the plumpest yummiest raisins. The whole place was magical and colourful... full of fairies, enchanted bridges, beautiful gardens, painted walls and gnomes peering out everywhere I looked. To this day I still say good morning Fairies whenever I pass under a archway of trees.
And every night as I was tucked into bed, I didn't say I had the best day ever. I said can we do it all again tomorrow. Four year olds don't appreciate what they've had... they just want more, more, more.
To a much lesser extent, the holiday did have its disastrous moments. Thanks to stupid 4-year old me...
I was sitting at my parent's feet, making sandcastles when I saw the sunlight glint against the broken bottle. I got up to look - I knew it was very dangerous and definitely shouldn't have been there. But I wondered just what it would feel like to stand on it... I circled twice before plucking up the courage to put my foot down. Luckily my Father was there to scoop me up in his arms and as he ran towards the policeman in white directing traffic, I could hear my hysterical Mother in the background. Blood everywhere... I've still got the scar. I remember marvelling at the policeman's white gloves but I can't remember being told off, maybe I blocked that part out... as a child does. I do remember raised voices about the dirty animal who left the bottle there in the first place...
No creche, no high tea with strangers, no time alone. A proper family holiday. Despite being under the watchful eye of my parents, I still got into trouble. Four year old children have no real sense of danger, no boundaries and an absolute dogged determination. Is there any question to why people wonder what a child could get up to being left to their own devices. And how anyone could call it responsible parenting? I'm thankful to my parents for such great memories, I wonder what the McCann children think of theirs.