THE GUARDIAN: It was visiting hour at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and patients began drifting in to sit with their loved ones at tables and chairs that had been fixed to the ground. They were mostly overweight, wearing loose, comfortable T-shirts and elasticated sweatpants. There probably wasn’t much to do in Broadmoor but eat. I wondered if any of them were famous. Broadmoor was where they sent Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, and Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
A man in his late 20s walked towards me. His arm was outstretched. He wasn’t wearing sweatpants. He was wearing a pinstripe jacket and trousers. He looked like a young businessman trying to make his way in the world, someone who wanted to show everyone that he was very, very sane. We shook hands.
“I’m Tony,” he said. He sat down.
“So I hear you faked your way in here,” I said.
“That’s exactly right,” Tony said.
He had the voice of a normal, nice, eager-to-help young man.
“I’d committed GBH,” he said. “After they arrested me, I sat in my cell and I thought, ‘I’m looking at five to seven years.’ So I asked the other prisoners what to do. They said, ‘Easy! Tell them you’re mad! They’ll put you in a county hospital. You’ll have Sky TV and a PlayStation. Nurses will bring you pizzas.'”
“How long ago was this?” I asked.
“Twelve years ago,” Tony said.
Tony said faking madness was the easy part, especially when you’re 17 and you take drugs and watch a lot of scary movies. You don’t need to know how authentically crazy people behave. You just plagiarise the character Dennis Hopper played in the movie Blue Velvet. That’s what Tony did. He told a visiting psychiatrist he liked sending people love letters straight from his heart, and a love letter was a bullet from a gun, and if you received a love letter from him, you’d go straight to hell. MORE
TALKING HEADS: Psycho Killer