When we put a call out for submissions for “Welcome to Leicester”, we expected poems about King Richard III, Leicester City Football Club and areas with personal significance for the poet. While the poems started coming in, I began to write a list of topics I wanted the anthology to include in some way. Topics such as the Shoemakers’ Walk, Suffragette Alice Hawkins, adverts taken out to deter refugees in the 1970s and the contrast with events during Refugee Week and Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting. My list became a series of poems, however, if someone submitted a poem on a topic I’d written about, I put mine to one side and did not put it forward for the anthology.
I was pleased to learn that Leicester City Council, Leicester University and the King Richard III Centre have teamed up to study the feasibility of creating a new tourist attraction to tell the story of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA and its significance in the clearing the name of an innocent man and providing evidence to identify the murderer, as reported in the Leicester Mercury.
You don’t really get Eureka Moments
“Complicated” became “Eureka”
at 9.05am on 10 September 1984:
I saw genetic fingerprinting.
It started with a chemist’s set
and sulphuric acid burns
leading to me wearing a beard.
After studies, an invite to Leicester
University gave me a lab,
a part-time technician and freedom.
to study human genetic fingerprinting,
disease diagnosis, inheritance
and evolution of genetic variations.
I proved two fifteen-year-old girls
were murdered by the same killer
but not the chief suspect.
I’d cleared a man’s name.
But the killer was still out there.
We continued testing
and looking over our shoulders.
Potentially the murderer knew
where we worked, where our families lived.
The price of my insecurity was £200:
the payment made for a man
to give a blood sample for a colleague
and mask a serial murderer/rapist.
Two hundred pounds.
Until a drink loosened his tongue.
Then the trial of a man,
of forensic DNA.
If it had failed, my work…
The remainder of my poem can be read in “Welcome to Leicester“.