Song Of The Day 9/19/2015: The Dodgems – “Lord Lucan Is Missing”

Let's Go Do Some Crimes – The disappearance of Lord Lucan, formally charged with the murder of his children's nanny in 1974, is one of the United Kingdom's most enduring real-life mysteries. It's the kind of story that could only happen within the great societal pressure of the British aristocracy in which plaudits are assigned to members of lucky bloodlines, who then either strive to rise to the connotations of their lord- and ladyships or, contrarily, become beacons of ineptness in the bathing light of the Crown. Guess which category Lucan was. Here's a clue: A punk band did a song about him.

John Bingham was the 7th Earl of Lucan and the possessor of a very good mustache. He also developed a taste for gambling, and eventually got so good at the game of chemin de fer (baccarat) that he quit his job at a merchant bank and went into playing cards full time. (Allegedly he was also under consideration for the role of James Bond in films, though he either declined the offer to screen-test or was unsuccessful. He did, however, drive an Aston Martin.) He married Veronica Duncan in 1963 and fathered three children with her. His gambling skills then declined precipitously and he found himself in debt. Veronica developed post-natal depression after the births of her latter two children; Lucan saw to it that she got proper meds at the time. The combination of Lucan's financial losses and the emotional state of the marriage proved too much and the two separated in 1972.

Lord and Lady Lucan (The Daily Mirror)
Lucan became singly obsessed with retaining custody of his children, and used every opportunity he could to spy and eavesdrop on Veronica in order to catch whatever evidence he could about her mental deterioration. She willingly submitted herself to psychiatric evaluation which concluded that, although she showed definite signs of depression, she was nowhere near insane. Furthermore, while custody battles in this echelon of society generally went in favor of the original aristocrat in the relationship, the court ultimately awarded guardianship of the Lucan children to Veronica.

On November 7, 1974, Sandra Rivett, the nanny of the Lucan children, was found brutally murdered with a bandaged lead pipe and stuffed in a canvas sack in the basement of the family house. At some point that evening Veronica Lucan ran into a local pub, the Plumbers Arms, covered in blood, claiming that her nanny had been killed, that she had been attacked and the culprit was Lord Lucan. After Veronica searched for her missing nanny she was accosted by a man, presumably masked, and a violent struggle ensued between the two. She recognized his voice as Lord Lucan's, however. After the fight had settled down and Lucan went to the bathroom to obtain a wet towel, Veronica made her escape to the Plumbers Arms.

Lord Lucan devised a series of pretty thin alibis in correspondence with at least one individual. He just happened to be walking by the house when he saw the murder of Rivett happening in the basement, rushed in to try and stop it, slipped and fell in a pool of blood, then had an argument with his wife in which she accused him of hiring a hitman to kill her. Instead the hitman accidentally killed Rivett, who happened to be at the house on what would normally have been her night off. "A traumatic night of unbelievable coincidences," Lucan called it in his last known communication to a friend. I agree that it's completely unbelievable.

But Lucan didn't stick around to give his side of the story: He promptly disappeared on November 8, and nobody saw him again. Many of his friends believed he "fell on his sword" in shame. Some think he ran off to India or Australia, and one of his close associate's assistants claims she helped him hide in Africa. "Others claim he was living with a goat called Camilla in New Zealand," says The Daily Mirror. Obviously, that's the one I'm holding out hope for. For the purposes of administering his estate, in 1999 a High Court officially proclaimed that Lord Lucan had, at some point, died. Which of course means he's pulling down the night shift at a White Castle in New Jersey, right?

Despite shedding his identity more than twenty years before the internet became commonplace, Lord Lucan has an "official website." However it contains a very good summation of the case by Linda Stratmann. A two-part movie appeared on ITV in 2013. And, of course, there's today's song by The Dodgems from Brighton, in which they voice frustration about their not knowing where Lord Lucan is. Join the club. The old, withering club.

That devil, baccarat.

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