by Céu Neves
Rothley has recovered its quiet and is now far from the agitated months that followed the disappearance of Madeleine, two years ago today. And even the memorial that was built on the little town square has returned to its original purpose: to homage those fallen during the Second World War. An oratorio that was placed on the ground looks forgotten, on Friday, with two days to go until the 3rd of May. Until someone decides to light the candle and place a photo of Maddie. A photo reporter shoots his camera. He ends up confessing that he was the author of the staging. “I need a photo!”, he justifies.
Apart from revealing the lack of ethics by this professional, the episode is an example of what is happening in this small village near Leicester. There is nothing that recalls Madeleine. It’s a quiet place where residents stay at home. And even the owner of the Royal Oak, the bar on the square in front of the memorial, who was keen on keeping the flame for Madeleine, has surrendered as months went by. The disappearance of the 4-year-old girl, in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, is increasingly a memory and decreasingly a conversation subject. When asked if they talk about Madeleine, they reply: “Not really!”
Such is the case of Rachel, 41, a pharmacist. “It was a very sad situation and we felt solidarity with the McCanns, but we rarely discuss it. We can hardly imagine that it happened”, she says. But according to her opinion, what should never have happened was that the parents left the children alone. The pharmacist has two daughters, aged 14 and 16, and stresses that she never left them alone when they were small.
Rachel doesn’t want to state her surname, other residents don’t even reveal their first name. “This is a small village, we all end up knowing who it is and I’m very critical about what the parents did. I go abroad often, and if I want to socialise, I take the children with me”, a patron at the bar argues. He and the other two customers who smoke at the door confirm that the subject is no longer a conversation on the street, or a family debate.
But they all mention Maddie’s disappearance when questioned about the 3rd of May. And Ivone Foster, aged 64, retired, and Michael Muehlensiepen, aged 48, a business manager, underline that they’ll never forget what happened. “It’s not talked about, which doesn’t mean that we forget about it. And obviously we recall it more often as the date when it all happened draws closer. Apart from that, the newspapers keep reminding us”, they say.
Yesterday, several British newspapers, from the Sun to the Times, placed an image of Madeleine, which was treated at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in Washington. Experts used photos of Kate and Gerry McCann when they were children, recreating Maddie’s expression an the age of six, which is how old she would be if she was alive, as her parents say they believe she is. The photo is presented as the couple’s hope to obtain information. “We’re not looking for a girl aged four anymore – but six. This is crucial, we hope that this new image (…) helps people to see how Madeleine now may look”, reads the latest message from Kate and Gerry on the FindMadeleine.com site, in the hope that new data may emerge, says family advisor Clarence Mitchell.
The McCanns spent the day in complete reclusion today and will only go out to attend mass, as Gerry McCann confirmed to DN, stating his unavailability to give interviews. With the justification: “We did what we had to do for now!”. Secluded at home, the couple followed their neighbours’ behaviour. To remain behind closed doors, with their two other children. All the same, except for the yellow and green ribbons that they placed on the gate and on the door, and the van with messages to find Madeleine. Still with the old photo.
source: Jornal de Notícias, 03.05.2009