Well! Today has been a bit special. We had a visit from a producer and presenter from BBC World Service. They interviewed us for a programme about secrets. They had discovered the interview we did the The Why Factor just over two years ago and thought that our story would make an interesting contribution. So Emily interviewed me about the secret I had kept about being trans up until I informed Lou (fifteen years ago) and placed the secret on her shoulders. Then Emily asked Lou questions about her memories and feelings and thoughts about taking on the secret. I find it very difficult to think back to exactly what my thoughts were then and before. It is a blur of emotion but I recognise now that I was and have been self-centred and selfish. I am extremely grateful that Lou stuck with me but delighted that the secret has been eroded until it is just a tiny relic – I assume that most people now know I am trans. Emily and Sinita were lovely and made over an hour of recordings including various false starts and interruptions, such as when the clock chimed. It was a long way to come for a small part of one programme but they were both very sensitive and grateful for our time. It will be interesting to see how they edit it. When we know the broadcast date, I’ll post it here.
I don’t suppose it will give Jasmine Frame more publicity. The never-ending search goes on for something that will present Jasmine Frame, Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design (not forgetting my fantasy titles) to the masses and trigger an explosion in sales (dream on). Anyway, the labour of love continues (I have no problem getting inspiration to write about Jasmine) so here is the next episode of the Jasmine Frame story, Resolution.
Resolution – Part 5
‘What’s your evidence, Frame?’ Sloane barked.
‘I missed it earlier,’ James said, calling up a file on his screen. ‘Elizabeth Hargreaves’ bank statements show that after the sale of their house in Staines, a large sum was transferred to another account. I thought it was to Michael Hargreaves but the account is in the name of Michelle Greaves.’
‘Ah, so he can be traced,’ Sloane said nodding his head.
‘Yes, Sir. I’ve got an address for her in Sheffield.’
‘That’s some way from Staines,’ DS Trewin said, ‘Why would he move there? Is there family?’
‘We haven’t found any close living relations for Elizabeth or Michael Hargreaves apart from her sister but she lives in South London,’ Tom answered.
‘I can think of two reasons for moving there,’ James said, wondering if he was making his ideas fit the facts rather than the reverse.
‘They are?’ Sloane said.
‘Well, housing is a lot cheaper there than in the home counties, so if they were splitting their home and finances, Michelle would find it more affordable,’ James said.
‘A good point,’ Sloane nodded, ‘but there are many places for which you could say the same thing. What’s your second reason, Frame?’
James took a breath and blurted out, ‘There’s a Gender Identity Clinic in Sheffield.’
‘What?’ Tom said.
‘He’s moved there to get treatment to become a woman.’ Trewin stated. James thought he’d grasped the point rather quickly.
James wasn’t as certain of the chronology. ‘I don’t know when Michelle decided to transition. She’s had a driving licence in her name for a few years, but if she wanted gender reassignment surgery it would be better to be close to one of the few hospitals where it’s done and where she may get treatment on the NHS.’
‘So Michael Hargreaves has become a woman,’ Sloane said.
‘Well. . .’ James began.
‘What is it, Frame?’ Sloane growled.
‘The photos show that Michelle has been around for a long time and I think she started to transition a while ago. I’m surprised that she hasn’t got a Gender Recognition Certificate.’
‘A what?’ Tom said.
‘They came out of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act,’ James said.
‘Ah, yes. I remember now,’ Trewin said, ‘It allows transsexuals to change their birth certificate doesn’t it.’
James nodded, pleased with Trewin’s knowledge, ‘But the birth certificate of Michael Hargreaves has not been amended and there isn’t one for Michelle Greaves. Michael disappears when he and Elizabeth separated and closed their joint account. Michelle exists in his place, but not from birth.’
Sloane scratched his chin. ‘You know a lot about this transsexual stuff,’ he said examining James.
I’m not about to say why, James thought. ‘Just been doing the research, Sir,’ he said, as calmly as he could
‘Well, very good, Frame.’ Sloane produced a small smile, ‘Where does it get us?’
Trewin was looking at the photo in the album of Michelle. ‘His appearance here seems to match the description of Elizabeth’s visitor.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ James said trying not to sound too smug.
‘There you are then,’ Sloane said straightening up to his full height, ‘You have your prime suspect. Get on to the Sheffield constabulary to take Michelle Greaves in for questioning.’ He strode off without another word.
Trewin clapped James on the back. ‘Good work, Jim. I’ll fix things up with Sheffield. You carry on digging into this Michael/Michelle thing. See if you can find out when he started living as a woman and if there is any evidence placing her in Kintbridge on Wednesday. If he did come down here from Sheffield we need a reason. Tom, you get on to Dr Gupta. He said he’d have a more detailed path report this morning, and see if forensics have come up with anything.’
James was feeling the effects of several hours in front of a computer screen. He stretched his arms and rubbed his eyes.
‘At last!’ Alan Trewin said leaping top his feet. ‘Sheffield have pulled their finger out and found Michelle Greaves. They’ve invited us up there to interview him. Come on Jim, we’ve got a long drive. Tom, start getting those reports in order.’
Tom Shepherd looked forlorn realising that he was stuck in the office. James stood up and glanced at his watch. He wanted to be in on the interrogation but it was going to be mid to late afternoon before they reached Sheffield. How long would the questioning last? He might not get home till the early hours and he was intending setting off to see Tania in Birmingham early on Saturday morning. Oh well, there was nothing he could do about it. He followed Trewin from the office. In the police car park Trewin chucked James the keys of the Mondeo and got into the passenger seat.
They were caught by Friday afternoon traffic on the M42 around Birmingham and they were slowed down by roadworks on the M1, so it was three-thirty when they pulled up at the Police Station. James followed the DS into the building and they presented themselves at the desk. There was just a few minutes’ wait before a dark-skinned, female plain-clothes officer approached them.
‘DS Trewin? I’m DS Mansfield.’ The Yorkshire accent was strong revealing that her Afro-Caribbean roots were at least one generation in the past. ‘Follow me. We have Miss Greaves in an interview room waiting for you.’
Trewin shook the detective’s hand and introduced James. ‘This is DC Frame. He tracked Michelle Greaves down. Thanks for picking her up.’
Mansfield guided them through a security door.
‘How did Miss Greaves seem when you met her?’ Trewin asked.
‘She wasn’t at the address when we called after you contacted us,’ DS Mansfield said as they walked along a corridor. ‘It’s a rented flat in a what used to be one of the council blocks. One of Sheffield’s cheaper properties.
‘Saving her money,’ James observed.
‘For what?’ Trewin asked.
‘A pair of boobs, I expect,’ Mansfield said, ‘Did you know she’s a trans-woman?’
‘Jim worked that out for us,’ Trewin replied. The female DS looked at James with a look of respect. James gave her an embarrassed smile.
‘Good work. I’d say she’s got a clothes habit too.’ Mansfield went on. ‘She’d been out shopping and had a few bags of charity shop clobber when we met her.’
‘What was her response to being taken in for questioning?’ Trewin asked.
‘She asked the reason?’ Trewin pressed further.
‘Yes. We told her that her ex-wife had been found dead and that you wanted to speak to her.’
‘How did she react to the news?’ James said.
Mansfield turned to look directly at James. ‘She said, and I’m quoting now, “Not ex” and that was it. She agreed to come into the station and we sent a car to pick her up an hour ago.’
‘You left her on her own?’ Trewin said, and James could hear a note of annoyance.
‘You said you wanted to question her not arrest her. Does it matter?’
Trewin shrugged. ‘Probably not. She will have disposed of any evidence of the trip to Kintbridge. If she is responsible for Elizabeth Hargreaves’ death, she must have known that we’d come for her sometime.’
Mansfield stopped at a door. ‘Well, she’s in here. Been sitting quietly since we brought her in. I’ll let you question her. Would you like tea?’
Trewin nodded. ‘Yes, please. Milk and sugar. Jim?’
‘A black coffee, please. No sugar,’ James replied. Trewin opened the door and entered the interview room. James followed.
The woman from the photos was sat at the table. She looked a little older, with the creases more visible around her eyes and mouth despite heavy make-up, and the brown hair was a little thinner and flatter. Michelle Greaves was smartly dressed in a pale-blue, sleeveless summer dress. She didn’t get up when they entered but looked up at them with an emotionless face.
‘Good afternoon, Miss Greaves,’ DS Trewin began as he took a seat on the opposite side of the table from her. ‘This is DC Frame. We’re from Kintbridge. I gather you have heard that Elizabeth Hargreaves is dead. She was found in her house yesterday morning.’
‘The coloured detective told me that,’ Greaves said in a soft voice. James realised that she was making an effort to talk with a feminine tone. ‘I’m not sure how I can help you.’
‘Elizabeth Hargreaves was your wife,’ Trewin said.
‘You had not divorced?’
‘No.’ There was a flicker in Michelle’s eye and she turned her face from DS Trewin.
‘So she was still your next of kin,’ Trewin stated. Greaves tensed.
‘We were separated, as good as divorced,’ she said.
‘Was the separation amicable?’ Trewin asked. James watched carefully. Greaves was about to answer then thought better of it and composed herself before speaking.
‘As much as these things can be. We agreed to sell the house and go our different ways.’
Greaves shook her head.
‘So Elizabeth moved to Kintbridge and you came to Sheffield.’
Michelle looked a little confused, as if wondering what Trewin was getting at.
Trewin went on after the briefest of pauses. ‘You came here so you could transition? That’s the word isn’t it?’
‘Yes, but not really. I’ve been Michelle for years.’
‘But you haven’t had surgery?’
Greaves turned her face from Trewin and James and muttered, ‘No.’
Trewin leaned forward. ‘Have you seen Mrs Hargreaves since you split up, Michelle?’