A murder victim or murderer who didn’t speak much to the neighbours on either side of him is someone who always “kept himself to himself”. This is essentially shorthand for “I couldn’t find out a damn thing about him.” It wasn’t just the reporters: once in Hertfordshire, reporting on the hit-man murder of Robert Magill – for which I believe the wrong man, Kevin Lane, was later convicted – I knocked on the door of a neighbour of the victim, who had been shot that morning while walking his dog.  A young reporter from another paper was with me and as we waited, I muttered, “I bet they say ‘he kept himself to himself’; the unwitting woman who answered the door and gave us the phrase verbatim was understandably baffled by my colleague’s loud guffaw.

Duncan Campbell, “We’ll All Be Murdered in Our Beds! The Shocking History of Crime Reporting in Britain”.


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