Megan Nolan (2023) Ordinary Human Failings.

Write what you know. Megan Nolan writes about Waterford, where she was brought up. And London where she moved to. But it’s London 1990. Nolan would be a toddler. A child has been reported missing and later found dead.

‘Down below in Skyler Square the trouble was passing quickly from door to door, mothers telling mothers, not speaking aloud but somehow saying : baby gone, bad man, wild animal.

James Bulger 1993 is the classic case. But google it and like one of the protagonists, Carmel’s teenage pregnancy there’s more than imagined. Three cases spring to mind in Clydebank alone. It was a plot device used by Alan Parks, for example, To Die in June.

Who gets to tell the story? Mad, bad or sad?

Carmel’s story is of denial. She’s not pregnant. She can’t be. If she stops eating she can’t have a child. If she keeps drinking she can’t have a child. If she has hot baths and a coathanger she’s mad enough.

Lucy is an extremely beautiful child like her mum, Carmel. Her mum, Carmel, is still in denial, but her grandmum, Rose mothers her.

Her grandad, John Green, has little to do with her or any of his other kids, including his son from his first marriage, Ritchie.  

Richie is five years older than Carmel. He hasn’t been always an alcoholic. There was a time in Waterford when he was going to make something of himself. Ordinary human failings. That time passed.

An ordinary Irish family, living in London in a council house flat (which is becoming extraordinary).

‘Report by Tom Hargreaves, Thursday 17th May 1990.


Mia Enright, aged three, was last seen playing with Lucy Green, aged ten. Enright apparently had bruising to her neck.

Hargreaves is a cub reporter with one of the big papers. It’s difficult to look beyond Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and Sun. A toxic combination of get your tits our for the boys and England Until I Die!

To take another example: Nina (Nightcrawler)

‘The best and clearest way I can explain it to you, Lou, to capture what we are, is to think of a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.’

But you want to fuck her into next week, anyway.

The perfect Murdoch headline reads something like Tony Blair is shagging Maddona, but she denies their love child Britney Speirs the singing lessons she so craves.

Young Tom Hargreaves has got to inveigle his way into the Green family. Storyline shopping lists include: welfare recipients (scroungers) on drugs and drink (feckless poor and milking the system) but also kinda sexy, better still if they’re having incestuous sex with each other. Then the moral outrage and monster card can be played.

Hargreaves’ paymasters have put up the Green family in hotel and are paying them for exclusive rights to their story. There’s no such thing as  Ordinary Human Failings in Murdoch’s land. There’s only blood sport which would have  plucked nipple from boneless gums and dashed the brains out for any sort of scoop. Tom worries he’ll not be heartless enough. Nolan’s job is to show how the heartless bastards like Murdoch’s reporters prosper, while trying to maintain her character’s dignity and self-worth. Good against evil isn’t just the untimely death of a child, but what happens next. How and who gets to define it.  Read on.