Well I guess I am in good company including Uma Thurman, Colin Firth’s wife: Livia and one of my favourite actors, Martin Shaw. What do we have in common? We have all had stalkers. To have a stalker is a strange and disturbing thing. When you read in the newspapers about people who stalk celebrities it is quite easy to think that it can never happen to you, but it can.
Mine began some 25 years ago when I got a letter out of the blue from an acquaintance called Martyn Tarbet I had known from a Quaker meeting when I was at University in Birmingham over 30 years ago. I should have been suspicious since he hunted down my parents and hand delivered a letter to them which I duly replied to, politely but firmly, since I had a vague recollection that he had caused some problems at a wedding at the meeting I used to attend. This was my mistake which I have paid for intermittently over the last 25 years. I told him that I was no longer married to my first husband (we had parted because we found we were incompatible) and was remarried and happy with a baby.
To say that all hell broke loose as a result of that exchange of letters, is no exaggeration. In those days the law on stalking was much less favourable to the victim than it is now. Letters arrived in black envelopes threatening my husband with death if I did not return to my former husband. Martin even cycled to Yorkshire and demanded to meet with me to “negotiate” the end of my marriage and our return to my ex husband – not her father – a man I didn’t love who detested children. Letters claiming I had been sectioned for mental health issues went to my employer (It was the days before CRB and Martyn was paid to look after people with learning difficulties, I was concerned for their well-being and let his employers know) He harassed my parents, so dad and the priest of my mum’s church went to reason with him. Martyn complained to the bishop about the involvement of the vicar who had blessed my marriage. You see like many stalkers who are adept at gas lighting, they can sound very plausible until the trail of devastation in their wake is pieced together. I am lucky in that Martyn Tarbet has had more than one target over the years. He seems to have a whole pool of us he selects from time to time even his own sister-in-law and nephew have not been exempt. Usually his ire is reserved for those people who have upset his zealous moral code. I know he has had problems with the police but he is clever enough to avoid acts which go far enough to warrant arrest. The incidents with the police are also, like his approach, scattered across many counties.
When I was pregnant with our second child, I could take no more so pretended to him that I had decided to leave my husband and become a nun in North Yorkshire having concocted a pious, contrite letter about my sin. He duly went away. I heard from him once in the intervening years and then last summer he appeared to attack me with renewed vigour when he came across my website. You see, as a former teacher I had a tight profile on social media so when I left and marketed myself as a writer I became visible again. He wanted me to write his mother’s autobiography and he wanted to select life partners for my children which he had discovered probably because my youngest had taken up the option to include the “Massey” given as a forename on her birth certificate (and those of my other children) with her “Davis”. You see “Davis” is common, “Massey-Davis” is not and he found her on social media and through her my other two. I can’t hide, but why should I? I love my name, a perfect marriage of who I was and who I am.
I haven’t decided what to do about my stalker. I can’t afford legal action and he has stopped short of the criminal but perhaps if I can raise his profile as a pest and a stalker and perhaps save someone else the grief that those of us who have fallen foul of Martyn Tarbet stalker have had over the years. I may not have the letters from his original period of stalking, but I have at least half a dozen credible witnesses to the fact who would be happy to make statements to the police or a legal representative. I will take down this blog and the pictures I have posted of him on Pinterest and Flickr if he goes away and gives me an a solemn promise on the bible and to God that he will never contact me or any member of my family ever again.