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Who is behind the Bradford Batman? A special investigation...
This is, to be fair, the story I have been waiting to cover all my life.
A man dressed as DC Comics superhero Batman turned up at West Yorkshire Police’s Trafalgar House Bradford headquarters and handed over a 27-year-old suspect.
The story briefly gripped the world – let’s face it, laughs are few and far between at the moment. But the question on everyone’s lips was... who is the Batman? I decided to become the T&A’s very own Vicki Vale – the Gotham Gazette reporter who tried to unmask Batman – and find out.
Careful attention to Batman’s 74-year-history (he first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939) should yield a few clues.
On the mean streets of fictional Gotham City, Batman is really the millionaire Bruce Wayne. He became Batman after seeing his parents killed by a mugger, and vowed that as “criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot” he would adopt a disguise to “strike terror into their hearts”.
Could the Bradford Batman be one of our own millionaires in disguise? What about Sir Ken Morrison, life-president of the Morrisons supermarket empire he founded, who must have enough bucks kicking around to finance the development of a Batmobile and utility-belt-sized shark-repellent spray?
I put the question to Sir Ken’s people. And no answer came. Perhaps they weren’t dignifying such a query with a response. Or perhaps the next time suspects are handed in at Bradford nick, it’ll be a three-for-two offer.
Notwithstanding that Sir Ken is 81, that did give me an idea... when Batman’s allies in the Gotham Police Department want to contact him, they shine the image of a bat into the night sky. So I took to the roof of the T&A building on Hall Ings with my very own Bat-Signal.
No Batwing soared by to answer my call. Perhaps the fact that my Bat-Signal was little more than a waste-paper bin and didn’t light up had a lot to do with it.
Speaking of Gotham’s Finest... Batman always had a friend in Commissioner Jim Gordon. Could West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson have any insight into the Bradford Batman?
He was a hard man to get hold of – probably on the red telephone to Batman, I thought. Or, perhaps, he doesn’t particularly want to play “Commissioner Gordon” to a man who turned up in the dead of night with a man who had a warrant for his arrest outstanding. Perhaps, there is a serious issue in all of this, somewhere...
Not on Twitter, though, obviously. One theory was that Bradford West MP George Galloway might be beneath the mask. Mr Galloway tweeted back: “Contrary to rumours sweeping Gotham, I am not the Bradford Batman, However I take my hat off to him and wish him luck in the future.” He does have form, mind... though his infamous turn as a cat during Celebrity Big Brother would more put him in the camp of Catwoman.
There was also much play on the fact that “Batman” is an anagram of “Bantams” – Bradford City’s nickname. Could it be manager Phil Parkinson, or perhaps striker James Hanson? But the pictures appear to show a rather portly Batman more based on the 1960s Adam West incarnation than the buff Christian Bale image projected by the Dark Knight movies.
Sean Garvey, of Thackley, who now owns a string of pubs including the Albion at Greengates, but during a ten-year career as a milkman won plaudits for his crime-fighting, says: “It’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Or maybe the wrong time, if you’re a villain.”
So is he Batman? “I wouldn’t tell you if I was,” he says. “I’d have to keep my secret identity.”
West Yorkshire Police do seem to be taking a rather relaxed approach to the suggestion of a vigilante in their midst. Who knows whether the arrested man and Batman have crossed swords before? Perhaps the truth will out when justice – the real kind, that takes place in courtrooms, not the hooded kind beloved of comics and films – takes its course on Friday, when the man in question appears before magistrates.
In the meantime... is it my imagination, or did I just see a red-and-blue streak in the sky? Is it a bird..? Is it a plane..? Could it be..?
e-mail: email@example.com twitter: @BarnettTandA