The Big Sleep

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the last good photo of Arthur before he died

And just like that it’s all over.

Probably

For the whole story, start with https://smallthunderdog.blog/2020/12/12/true-detective/

Three years ago and a whole lifetime away in some ways, thousands of miles driven, hundreds of hours spent on trying to resolve each issue as it came and it’s going to end with a small victory, which is all we could hope for.

This all started 16 months before I even got to see Milo for the first time and he’ll have been with me for two years next month.

So much time, so many changes, jobs, relationships, houses, cars, the fucking lockdowns. all of it.

and not a happy ending as such, but it is at least a proper ending. Which, at some stages; I never thought we’d see.

So:

a few reminders of who’s who in this mess.

The Main Players

Arthur Hodge – was my uncle, a kind and gentle man who never took a drink, had any real vices and never hurt anybody in his whole life.

Susan Auckland – the luckiest thief I’ve ever heard of. I have open fraud cases with North Yorkshire Police, Cambridge Police and Action Fraud (there’s a name that belies their true ineptitude) – I have proven fraud against her when she stole £900 from Arthur via a ‘refund’ from a hotel and where she used Arthur’s cheques to pay a private doctor in Cambridge. For those concerned about libel, I can prove everything I’ve written and have supporting evidence.

She ‘befriended’ Arthur while he lived in the Frinton area and convinced him that he should move to Yorkshire and buy a house with her mother and:

Shirley Hodge, Arthur’s wife, another simple soul, massively arthritic and mostly housebound.

Supporting Players

Lionel Bowden of Linton in Cambridgeshire – Lionel trades as LB cabs and was instrumental in the bank (see blog posts) putting restrictions on Arthur’s account in 2018 with some cheques made out to him that were not written by Arthur. Lionel also drove the car in July 2018 when they all disappeared for a while.

Arthur died convinced that Lionel owed him money from loans and independent witnesses in Cambridge saw evidence of this.

Lionel runs through this whole story from start to finish and was instrumental in helping Susan transport Arthur and Shirley around and in finding accommodation for Susan in Cambridgeshire (which Arthur paid for) until the money finally ran out.

‘Nobby’ the local cab driver in Yorkshire. or Andrew Philip Wise. He’s just driven Susan to Scotland, so she’ll need another helper up there as she can’t drive.

North Yorkshire Social Services – screwed this whole thing up from the start and then to cap it all, gave Arthur Capacity. Not a doctor or health professional. A Social Worker. Within two weeks of that, Arthur’s bank accounts were raided time and again until nothing was left.

Nick Timmings – solicitor in Cambridge representing “Arthur”, Nick was very supportive of Arthur and lobbied both NatWest bank (to get Arthur access to his money) and Social Services to get them to leave Arthur alone after yet another case was opened after they moved there at the end of 2018.

North Yorkshire Police. just simply fantastic – thank you

‘Our’ solicitors – wrote wills for Arthur and Shirley (money to each other and the remainder to Battersea Dog’s Home) and did a great job on a very complicated conveyancing task to ensure that fair play was done.

NatWest Bank Safeguarding Team – amazing people doing a great service, sadly hamstrung by the Capacity issue.

Friends who supported us through all stages and kind people who helped when they could from the sidelines, neighbours and people who had fleeting contact.

And So:

The Good News

The house is finally sold, to people who genuinely want to live there, who have met the neighbours already and who will bring the closure that the neighbours need so badly.

I now have enough money to pay for Shirley’s care for two and a half years before we need to talk to social services again and Shirley is in a place where they actually care for her. Where there’s no:

  • mental coercion
  • no physical coercion such as being sat on or thrown across the room
  • no strictly enforced toilet rota where she was 4th out of 4 with no thought or care as to whether she’d actually make it in time
  • sudden disappearance of her personal belongings
  • leaving her alone all day for days on end

More Good News.

Shirley’s share of the house is her money, she can spend it on what she likes for all I care and more importantly.

NOBODY ELSE GETS THE MONEY.

Nobody, I still don’t know if others were involved, but Susan doesn’t get penny one from our side of the sale.

And Susan has gone to Scotland, presumably for ever now, she can’t drive and will soon eat through her share of the money while she turns somewhere else into an uninhabitable shithole.

The Bad News

Everybody gets away with it, Arthur had close to £50k stolen overall and apart from North Yorkshire Police, all we ever got were platitudes and excuses. Arthur and Shirley were dragged all over the country by Susan and driven by people who should have known better. Arthur never did see much of his family again and never saw his brother face-to-face.

That’s it though, a small victory as I said.

Never before revealed details P1

I now know pretty much all of the story, who they lived with while in Cambridge, how they got there and what they did while away from Yorkshire, some of the details came from an unexpected source, the solicitor that I mentioned earlier. This is the final part of my correspondence with him, I’m not accusing him of anything at all by the way. The pack mentioned is a pack that we obtained under GDPR when Arthur realised that he didn’t really know why Nick was his solicitor – or what for, so we jointly wrote a letter.

Nick, 
thank you for the pack – it was most enlightening and in some cases darkly amusing. 
Despite the redactions I can put names to most individuals including Social Services, etc. 
I note your repeated assertions about Arthur’s obvious capacity and his lovely anecdote of 29.08 when he talked about his father and Kimberley Clark and the missing toilet rolls. My Grandfather was a Blacksmith his whole working life. 
The 29.08 also states that Arthur had been tested by a Doctor for capacity – this did not occur and as you are aware, the final assessment was carried out by a social worker. 
The notation of the 27.09 states that there were no issues in Frinton. There was a social services case that lasted 10 months that was raised by a concerned member of the public while the property sales went on and Shirley (redacted) was in hospital. 
in your notation of the 20.12 – it is asserted by a redacted name that Arthur couldn’t pay your whole fee in one payment – on that date, he had £16,476 in the Natwest account  – down by £21,000 from 3rd September 2018. £5,000 was withdrawn in cash in September and £4,000 in 4 minutes on October 8th. 
Special Branch never attended the house. Nor did police investigate any withdrawal of £10,000 as this never happened. 
You have repeated notations that Arthur couldn’t remember spending the money – did you ever consider that another party may have access to his debit card?
In the week of 19.12 ‘he’ spent £316 in Aldi, £630 in a garden centre and £208 in John Lewis. 
Arthur paid his landlady (redacted) by cheque – every payment to her was via him. £750 a month. 
‘They’ left the place uninhabitable as was the case with a previous landlord (redacted) (who evicted them and also contacted Social Services and Arthur’s Leyburn Solicitor with his concerns) I have since paid for a professional clean of the house. 
Lionel Bowden (redacted) is the cab driver who introduced both X (redacted) and Y (redacted) to Susan (redacted) as somebody in need of help. He is also the friend in Linton that they stayed with but Arthur despite having’ full capacity’ couldn’t remember the address.  Lionel trades as LB Cabs and uses the name Lionel G Brown, he is a multiple bankrupt and an independent witness says that Arthur gave him a loan of ‘ a thousand or two thousand pounds’ via cheque to pay for an operation. Arthur states repeatedly that Lionel (whose surname he can’t remember) owes him money. A cheque to Lionel that was clearly not written or signed by Arthur in January 2018 (three months before my Aunt died and my involvement) triggered the bank actions by their safeguarding team (redacted) 
Marvin Zulu (redacted) from Cambridgeshire contacted me via North Yorkshire early this year due to new concerns about Arthur. He was told by Susan (redacted) that the landlady had a fierce dog and wouldn’t allow anybody access – this is untrue, as are the statements about electric gates and controlling the heating ( I have been to the property as part of tracking where Arthur’s money had gone) 
In total, there were / are, four social services cases, three police investigations at various points and safeguarding concerns raised at every level. The North Yorkshire case being raised by me and a policeman separately after I visited the property in April last year to talk to Arthur about my Aunt’s funeral and Susan calling the police and saying that I was trying to break in…. 
I’m not quite sure where I’m going next with this, Arthur and Shirley are safe, I have got his Kimberley Clark pension reinstated (they like everybody else were not given a change of address notification and couldn’t contact him).  I want to sell the property to get Arthur’s share safely away (a reminder that his will does not now pay out to anybody but Shirley and Battersea Dog’s home) and ensure that their final years are spent away from emotional and physical abuse.
But
I’m keeping my options open, a number of institutions have failed Arthur here and allowed his physical and financial wellbeing to suffer. 
Thanks again for the comprehensive pack 

I got a pretty much ‘yeah. your mum’ reply from this where it was noted rather snidely that Arthur had enough capacity to appoint me as his financial Power of Attorney .

Never before revealed details P2

so I took another step and complained to the SRA – the text is below and I sent over thirty pages of backing data. The investigation stalled and was closed as I had no time to respond to the same questions time and time again.

In December 2017, my uncle Arthur Hodge and his wife disappeared from their Frinton
(Essex) home and left no forwarding address. They bought a house in Middleham, North
Yorkshire with Susan Auckland.
In April 2018, Arthur’s sister died and we tracked him down via the conveyancer and I went
to visit him (after being refused the address via Susan who had the only phone) . I was
denied entrance and in fact, Susan called the police saying that I was trying to break in.
As a result of the visit, I raised a social services safeguarding concern – as did an attending
policeman.
My aunt’s funeral was in May 2018 and Arthur didn’t attend, a sworn statement was sent to
Police and Social Services by an ex-policeman who had engaged Arthur in conversation on
the day of the funeral in which he said that Susan Auckland had told him not to attend.
Over time, I found that there were existing cases in Essex and Cambridgeshire and that
NatWest bank were concerned enough about activity on the account that they put my uncle
on special measures.
On 12th July last year,
Susan Auckland took my uncle to Petersfields LLP (after leaving
Yorkshire without notifying social services the week before)
They told Mr Timmings a tale of evil family members and draconian banks and Mr Timmings
then set about working to get my uncle’s accounts unfrozen. Discussions were also held
regarding giving Susan Power of Attorney, putting her in a will and potentially giving her the
house. It was noted at this point that my uncle had @£36,000 in his NatWest account.
Mr Timmings decided on the evidence of a couple of meetings that capacity wasn’t an issue
and that this situation was an unconventional living arrangement.
Over the next few weeks Mr Timmings liaised with social services as he was of the mistaken
belief that they had advised the bank to freeze my uncle’s accounts. On the 26 th July social
services explained the position and once again, Mr Timmings decided that my uncle was of
sound mind and that he needn’t c
ooperate with SS if he didn’t want to.
On 29th August, Mr Timmings and my uncle visited the Fitzroy Street branch of NatWest and
found that the safeguarding team of the bank had put my uncle on special measures.
This is of particular interest to me as the file that I obtained on behalf of my uncle under
GDPR from Petersfields includes a copy of a letter that I sent to my uncle on the 15 th August
after a series of strange phone calls in which I reference the safeguarding case and the
name of the person in the NatWest Safeguarding Team along with explicit statements
regarding coercion and control.

On the 30th August, Mr Timmings had a phone conversation with Susan Auckland in which it
appears that she has stated once again that I wanted my uncle’s money. Mr Timmings
seems to have accepted this at face value.
Another phone conversation occurred on the 6 th September with Susan Auckland in which it
is noted that the Yorkshire Building Society had put my uncle on special measures – this is
blamed on a social worker and is again taken at face value. Discussions were held
regarding legal action against the bank.
On the 10th September it is noted in another call with Susan that my uncle had withdrawn
£3,000, since ‘Friday’. (At that point, there was just over £37,000 in my uncle’s main
account)

It is noted that YBS were still not allowing withdrawals.
Mr Timmings mentioned to Susan that the legal costs were now due
On the 19th September, Susan states that cheques written to a 3 rd party were bounced by the
bank – Nick states that nothing can be done until the bill is paid.
A slew of activity on the 26 th and 27 th September includes a mention of a complaint to the
banking ombudsman and another call with Susan and Arthur in which ‘the nephew’ is quoted
as saying that he would get all of Arthur’s money and that ‘they didn’t have any trouble in
Frinton’
A Note here, the sale of my Uncle’s house in Frinton was delayed by 10 months at the
instigation of the Estate Agent handling the sale who reported the situation to Social
Services
On the 3rd October, a call fro
m Susan notes that Social Services gave my uncle ‘capacity’
and that Mr Timmings would assist with letting the bank know.
It is again stated by Susan that a will and power of attorney document needs to be arranged
On the 6th November it is noted that my uncle has full access to his NatWest account and
that he agrees to making a complaint to the Ombudsman.
On the 20th December, in another call, it is noted that Cambridgeshire social services wanted
to see my uncle and that he couldn’t afford to pay his whole bill in one payment.

On the 8th January 2019, Mr Timmings notes his concerns that the money had gone down so
quickly from over £30,000 in September to an unspecified amount.

On the 6th February, a call from Susan notes that social services are trying to get into the
property in Cambridge that my uncle was paying for. It’s alleged that the ‘nephew’ is
harassing them as he is trying to get ‘their’ money.
On the 21st February it is noted that my uncle was admitted to Addenbrookes for diabetes
issues.

On the 6th March, it is noted that social services have again tried to gain access to the
Cambridge rented property. It is also noted that there is an intent to transfer the ownership
of the jointly owned house in Middleham to Susan with a life interest being held by my uncle.
It is also noted on the 6th March that Social Services are contacted by Petersfields with talk
of harassment and Social Services being told to ‘behave themselves’
On the 9th April, Mr Timmings meets my uncle on his own, it is discussed that there is now
around £2,000 in the bank account, my uncle could not account for the spend. A will is again
discussed with Susan as a beneficiary – Mr Timmings notes once again that my uncle is not
the sort of person who can be unduly influenced.
On the 25th April it is noted that my uncle and aunt were taken into care. Mr Timmings makes
the assumption that the family may have got involved again.
On the 4th May, a conversation with North Yorkshire Police notes that Police and Social
Services were called to the Middleham property and that he was in ‘ a terrible state with
soiled clothing’
On the 26th July it is note
d that Mr Timmings had a call from Yorkshire Social Services
informing him that I would be granted a financial Lasting Power of Attorney. He states that
he is concerned and needed to speak with my uncle.

On the 31 st July and 27 th August 2019, Mr Timmings consults with SRA ethics regarding his
concerns
On the 27 th August a notation is made that Mr Timmings now has concerns as my uncle
couldn’t remember meeting him and the LPA to myself.
On 16 th September this year, I contacted Mr Timmings as part of tracking where my uncle’s
money had gone. (£37k in September, overdrawn by Easter) and have since had a pack
sent to me under GDPR in my uncle’s name (with a letter signed by my uncle and me).
My uncle now has a will (as does my aunt) that leaves their property to each other and
Battersea Dog and Cat’s home.

I have open fraud cases lodged in both Cambridgeshire and North Yorkshire where I have
been able to prove fraudulent use of my uncle’s debit card and chequebook.

In summary – Mr Timmings has appeared to chase the money and the fees and only
contacted North Yorkshire Police after my uncle was taken into care despite my letter to my
Uncle of August 2018.
He has chosen to believe a story of evil relatives and greedy nephews and has wilfully
ignored the facts at the time or any possible alternative theory – in this case, a long-term
coercion of a vulnerable pensioner that has resulted in my uncle losing all of his money
(over £58,000 in total from his NatWest accounts alone) to an unscrupulous 3 rd party.

I don’t want any compensation or even an apology, but this sort of thing CANNOT be
allowed to continue.

AND THAT’S ALL THERE IS REALLY

To be honest, I have so much backing information, so many contacts and little stories around all this that I could write another hundred pages, but.. Life Is Short.

I know that Susan has seen some of the previous blogs and I took them down while it looked like something may happen legally, but it never did. She (Hi Susan) knows who I am, she has a few solicitors that she’s used in the past, if they’re still talking to her… I have copies of cheques, sworn statements and actual evidence of when she actually did take money in her own name.

Bring it on if you like, you motherfuckers. I’m more than happy

The Voice on The Wire

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2009_05240005As Usual

We’ll recap, I guess we have to, just to keep the chronology straight:

It’s all here…

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men

Disturbia

Cry Havoc

Gaslight

2020 update. ‘Arthur’ really did have a solicitor. In Cambridge. I’ll be writing separately about him and his dealings with Arthur and Susan in a new blog post in a few days, where I’ll fill in all the blanks, detail where fraud could be proved and highlighting the wonderful work of Nick Timmings – the aforementioned solicitor. Every word will be factualno allegations can or will be made.

Back to 2018

And no.

There’s no good news.  Just sound and fury and noises from afar.

Social Services

Had promised to get back to Arthur’s Cousin Vera to let her know that whether her letter had been received. They promised to do it soon, maybe that day.

Well that was August 1st, Joseph is now on a well deserved holiday and Vera hasn’t heard anything at all, but she’ll keep pushing him, because….. well, we have to push or we get ignored.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with this system, it’s been over three months for this part of the case alone and I get the definite impression that everybody would be happy if they just upped and left and took their problems and their adult diapers and their shouting and screaming and their foul smells  and their rats somewhere else.

Just far enough to be in a different county.

and be somebody else’s problem

But maybe I’m not being fair, the problem is that none of us know anything.

Thank God for the persistence of Postladies.

The Letter

So I wrote a letter to my Uncle.

I’ll reproduce most of it below and I sent it ‘Signed For, Addressee Only’ – this just means that somebody has to go to the door and sign for it.

It took me three attempts to get it delivered as they just don’t answer the door.

Anyway, here it is..

‘Dear Uncle Arthur,
I hope that you and Shirley are well.

Despite your assurances to the social worker, I remain worried
about your wellbeing, as do your old neighbours in Frinton, who I
met with a month ago; my Dad (your brother) and the wider
family, including your cousin Vera and your nephew Michael.

I have given them all your address and they will be writing to you
individually, as will I on a regular basis.
I know that you said that you have lost your address book, so
everybody will ensure that they give you their address.
Mine is:

xxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxx
I met with your current neighbours last week, they seem like
lovely people and I had tea and a few drinks on Saturday evening
with both the uphill and downhill neighbours, you may have seen
my car on Sunday morning as I parked opposite to walk the dog
to the river.

Love’

I wasn’t sure that it would ever get to him or whether he would respond and in the meantime I had a disturbing alert to say that he had been seen pushing a shopping trolley to the shops in Middleham.  This sounds innocuous but it’s half a mile up a vicious hill that I’m not that keen on walking myself, let alone pushing or pulling a trolley.

Oh yes.

Susan’s brother had been in the house an hour previously.

I sent a mail to Social Services, etc. and the mail and the reply are below.

‘All

Please see the attached text from a concerned neighbour
If Susan’s brother was there with a car, again… Why is my uncle pushing trolleys up a steep hill, in Summer, at the age of 84? 
Does he have to die of a heart attack before somebody does something here? 
Of course, if he does, the house is Susan’s and the problem goes away doesn’t it? 
There is something very wrong with this picture and it’s getting more disturbing by the day. 
I don’t really expect much of an answer, this is more in the nature of evidence for the inevitable inquest. ‘
I received a reply from the now ubiquitous Joseph Smith.

‘Dear Mr Hodge

Thank you for your e-mail. I can assure you that this information will be considered as part of our on-going safeguarding enquiries.’

Which, to be fair, I didn’t really expect to receive. So it was slightly heartening to get this acknowledgement (if nothing else).

And things idled on.

Until last Monday.

And I got a phone call from a number that I’ve never had a call from before.

The call lasted over twenty minutes and I have a recording (luckily) of the last 18 minutes, but I’ll paraphrase the call as best as I can.

The Phone Call

It rang as I was trying to do something else and I was a bit surprised to hear my Uncle’s voice on the line.

‘Is that Thunderdog?’

‘Yes… hello?’

‘This is Arthur, have you been saying things to my neighbours? They’ve said that you’ve told them I’m nutty.’

‘No, which neighbours do you mean, what are their  names?’

‘I don’t know their names, I don’t talk to them’

‘So how could they tell you what I supposedly said?’

*sound of paper and pen in the background*

‘Are you alone Arthur?’

‘What?’

‘Are you alone? Is Susan with you?’

*paper noises*

‘No, I’m all on my own’

‘Really, I doubt that, I thought that you were inseparable, I’m not sure that I believe you, but I’m not sure it matters either, which neighbours was it? Uphill or downhill? And if you don’t talk to them why would they tell you a lie?

‘Er, it was downhill’

 

‘Ah, yes, lovely people, I’ve been in theirs a few times for a cup of tea, so why would they tell you something like that? It doesn’t sound very true to me’

Well, what about the other neighbours in Frinton?’

‘What about them? I spoke to a few of them and they were very concerned about you’

‘Who was it?’

‘It was Jackie from the corner and I had a very long chat and a cup of tea with her, she was worried after you left’?

She was a troublemaker, she came in my house and was going through all my letters and when I asked her what she was doing, she said that she didn’t think I could read’

‘Are you sure that you remember this properly Uncle Arthur? She had a very different story and said that she came over to pay you the money she owed you for letting her park on your drive’

*sound of mobile phone in the background*

‘Are you sure you’re alone Arthur?’

*pause*

‘What?’

‘Are you alone in the room? Is Susan with you?’

*pause*

‘No, there’s just old Shirley’

‘Whose phone rang then?’

*pause, paper sounds*

Anyway, what about Nobby?’

‘What about Nobby? I haven’t spoken to him in over a month’

He’s our cab driver’

‘I know exactly who he is, but I haven’t spoken to him’

*long pause*

‘And the bank have frozen my money, I went there last Saturday, I had a right row and I called the bleeding police’

‘You called the police? You do know that the police already know about your bank and so do social services and social services are talking to the bank’

‘Social Services’

We then spent a few minutes while I told him that despite the fact that I thought Susan was probably in the background that I’d tell him everything I knew.

I began though with telling him that I believed Susan to be a danger to him and Shirley, that I believed that she has mental problems and that I had reported this to Social Services and the Police.

This involved a fair amount of me unloading on him and telling him that I had copies of statements given to the police, including on the day of the funeral when he sat in a cafe and talked to a stranger about not being able to go.

At that point I heard a female voice start to say something and then stop.

Conversation went a bit faster after this point, the point of the conversation had changed and this was now me pushing him – hard.

I continued to tell him all I knew about Essex, the Police kicking his door in while Shirley was alone, everything.

I told him ‘for the record and for the benefit of others listening in’ that I wasn’t going to back off no matter what, but that he wouldn’t see me, I had no plans to go to the house and that I would be keeping the pressure up on social services.

We then talked a bit more and he started talking about his money being frozen again.

‘I’ve worked all my life as you know and I can’t get my own bleeding money out’

‘Have you asked why they won’t give it to you?’

Have I asked?’

‘Yes, have you asked the bank why your accounts have restriction on them, because this was something that they did because their safeguarding team had concerns about the way your bank account is being run and it’s interesting that you don’t seem to know anything about it or haven’t asked in seven months’.

‘I went to the bank last week, in Harrogate, they told me I could only get two hundred out and it cost me near two hundred to fucking get there’. 

‘But did you ask them why you have restrictions?’

Well I called the Police and they made me sit in a room – on me own-  and erm, yap, yap yap, I told them it doesn’t make any difference, it’s my money and I’m entitled to it. ‘

‘Did they think it was a crime?’

No they didn’t say that’

‘So what exactly did they say?’

He rambled a bit at this point and I made the repeated point that he needed to talk to the safeguarding team in his bank to find out what the issue was from their point of view.

Somebody was shouting at him from the background and he eventually hung up.

It was a strange call, but it had felt good to let him (and the listener) know just how much effort I’d put in and to turn the conversation round into something more useful (from my point at least)

Never Forget

To let those involved – even on the periphery know what’s going on.

I texted both sets of neighbours and advised them to keep an eye out as it may get interesting…

Which was just as well I suppose.

Rapid Movements

At 14:45, my Uncle rang me again to threaten himself with my solicitor – or something. It took him about five attempts to tell me that I’d get a letter from his solicitor if I didn’t back off – or something. It was all a bit bizarre. I laughed, blew Susan a kiss and hung up.

Only to get a phone call from the first set of neighbours demanding to know what I’d said as Susan had been round to abuse them, citing me as the source for her information that they were talking about her.

I calmed them down and sent a copy of the audio file from my phone call with Arthur.

Which they then shared with the other neighbours who had received a similar visit.

It was all very heated and both sets of neighbours called the Police – as did Susan.

And that’s where it ended for the day.

Apart from one more letter..

 

The Letter (2)

Dear Uncle Arthur

Thank you for your two phone calls earlier this week, I confess that they have left me more worried than ever about your situation and I have forwarded my concerns on to Leyburn Police and Social Services.

Your first call was slightly incoherent and seemed to involve things that you alleged that I said about you to your neighbours – I didn’t say those things of course;  and your statement that you didn’t really talk to the neighbours or know their name left me feeling as if you had been prompted to call me.

I could hear paper and scratching in the background during the call, which (to me anyway) showed coercion and control by a 3rd party and the fact that Susan then felt compelled to then see fit to abuse both sets of neighbours giving my name and therefore slandering me has left me annoyed and considering my next steps.

She was clearly listening to the call and chose to deliberately change my words to you when she spoke to the neighbours to suit whatever purpose she hopes to achieve.

However; I hope that my advice to you to call the safeguarding team in your bank will prove useful in your attempt to find out why your accounts are restricted.

The NatWest Safeguarding Manager is a gentleman named Neil ….., if you call NatWest, they will get him to call you on a number of your choice – he may be able to explain why your accounts set off alarms in the system.

He has been in communication with Social Services – I suggest that you ask them for details.

A large number of people are concerned about you, including your cousin Vera who has written to you twice – the first letter was signed for by S Auckland and the second letter which contained an Order of Service for your only Sister’s funeral (remember her?) hasn’t yet been able to be delivered.

Did you get it I wonder? Or did it go the way of the letter and card that I posted through your door the Saturday before the funeral. I sat and watched as Susan threw it into the skip outside (I have photos to back this up by the way – and witnesses).

Your second call in which it took you five attempts to threaten me with a solicitor if I didn’t stop contacting you (an interesting idea given that this is only my second letter to you since your sister’s funeral) would have been funny if it wasn’t both sad and sinister.

This has caused me to redouble my efforts with Social Services as I believe that you are being coerced by a 3rd party, namely Susan Auckland and I have named her in a safeguarding concern report to North Yorkshire Council which has triggered the current case that you are involved in.

 

However, should you wish to pay the fees and your solicitor wishes to communicate with me, my address is:

xxxxx

 

If your solicitor is still John Smith, he and I have met and corresponded in the past and I would look forward to hearing from him again and would relish the opportunity to discuss this situation in court.

You may be surprised at the depth of my knowledge regarding your situation, the people involved and the efforts I’ve undertaken on your behalf.

 

Love always

That’s all folks

Apart from one more letter that I wrote to Police and Social.

Which has had an unexpected result.

I’ve had a phone call this afternoon that is genuinely positive and I really can’t say much more than that right now except that finally I’m hearing words that aren’t just platitudes.

I guess we’ll see

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

 

28 Weeks Later

Featured

9807595674_56f1252b16_bThings Past

All of the various updates from True Detective to The Voice on The Wire can be found here:

Chinatown  The Last Detective  No Country For Old Men  Disturbia  Cry Havoc  Gaslight

They pretty much cover what’s happened between May and Today, there are obviously things that I can’t disclose but this is likely to be the last ever post on this subject in particular – but more of that later.

Small Changes

What I haven’t said is that North Yorkshire Police launched an investigation, they took statements, spoke to various people and have been great at keeping me up to date.

The issue, as it has been all along is that Arthur hasn’t been willing to raise a complaint and until somebody could determine his Capacity, there couldn’t be any real progress as nobody can get into the house and speak to him / anybody else.

So, Capacity has been the sticking point all along, it’s been  holding his bank from taking anything forward or releasing his money, it’s been stopping me from taking this to the Court of Protection.

Everything Really.

An Unguarded Comment

From somebody in the middle of this has highlighted that.

THERE WAS A THIRD SOCIAL SERVICES CASE IN CAMBRIDGE

 

It began sometime after January this year and ended in April when they moved back to Middleham.

So.

Three cases, none of them linked, all involving safeguarding and vulnerability.

In three different counties.

How often does this happen? How much of our taxes and rates are spent on a system that allows this sort of thing to slip through the net?

But there we are.

An Inspector Calls

I got a phone call last night to say that Arthur has been tested and has been found to have Capacity. 

What does this mean?

The bank have turned the taps back on and they’ll allow him full access to his money again.

They have to.

The Police have stopped their investigation.

They have to.

Social Services will continue to monitor welfare at the house.

They have to.

Until.

Arthur, Susan and the whole caravan move again.

Because they will.

TH…. TH…. TH… THAT’s All Folks

Until Arthur and Shirley die quiet deaths, unknown to their families, Susan inherits the house and lives happily ever after, abusing the neighbours, living in filth and calling the Police on anybody who crosses her wherever they end up.

If that sounds bitter, it isn’t really.

It’s a recognition that the system is flawed at the moment, call somebody a naughty name on Social Media and you’re in the system for ever; live like animals at the fringes of society and the system isn’t scoped to deal with it.

I think that when they DO move, somebody will at least notify the authorities of the nightmare heading their way, I feel sorry for whatever neighbours they end up sharing space with, they’ll find – just like the current neighbours; that shy of burning the house down, they can’t do anything at all.

I’ve tried all I can with this, I can’t do any more, Arthur has made his bed and now he’ll have to die in it.

I will be trying to take the general issue up with my MP to see if there’s any chance of getting a Private Member’s Bill raised and I’ll update if I get any progress.

And I’ll take some quiet comfort in the fact that I’ve tried my best, I’ve forced Social Services and other agencies to up their game and I’ve managed to make life just a bit more difficult for Miss Susan and her family.

I owe thanks to so many of you that have given willingly of your time and effort to help with this and that’s my real takeaway from this.

I hope I can give something back at some stage.

 2020 UPDATE

I’ll do a separate blog post on this, so much happened in the period after I wrote this that everything was almost lost.

However.

Arthur lost every single penny he had and more.

He had £34,000 left in the bank when capacity was given.

By a social worker.

Not a doctor. Or a psychiatrist.

A fucking social worker.

Within a day, he’d taken £8,000 out in cash.

And they went to Cambridge again.

And by Easter 2019 he was overdrawn, ill and about to be dumped by Susan.

I’ll be writing about the legal genius that is Nick Timmings from a Cambridge law firm and a host of others.

Hold tight.

 

 

Gaslight

Featured

20180727_070717The Social Services Two-Step

It’s only been a few months but the story keeps changing and mutating around all those caught up in it.

Sadly I’m more convinced than ever that it doesn’t have a happy ending, North Yorkshire Social Services are understaffed, outgunned and have the law against them. They can’t effect entry into the house unless they can prove physical abuse.

This puts my relationship with them into a category marked ‘strained to non-existent’.

And Yet.

Despite them telling me nothing, fobbing me off with OfficialSpeak (more to come on this), I’m still ahead of them in terms of what’s going on in Middleham, who’s involved and what weird and wonderful things they’ve done or tried to do.

I take a step forward, they take a step back and fall over themselves, all while vulnerable adults live in a house that the neighbours have come to abhor.

How Did We Get Here?

Once again, it’s all here.

In chronological order

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men

Disturbia

Cry Havoc

And when I left things last time, they had disappeared completely.

Or as far as the family was concerned anyway.

Social Services had an address via her brother Francis and our best guess was that a friend had moved them as it wasn’t a taxi.

2020 update. They had gone to Cambridge to stay with the lovely Lionel Bowden.

When in Doubt – Attack.

So I did, I wrote a letter to the Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council – Richard Flinton, I sent it to his publicly available email address

richard.flinton@northyorks.gov.uk

and the text of this is below:

‘Dear Mr Flinton, 

Please take some time to familiarise yourself with my Uncle and Aunt’s safeguarding case, which now seems to have apparently permanently stalled. 
I say ‘apparently’ because despite me telling your team that the subject of a multi-agency safeguarding case was preparing to run – as it was happening, in real time – nobody has yet seen fit to update me or tell me that my vulnerable relatives have been traced.
I have expended huge amounts of time and effort since reporting this case (in parallel with a member of North Yorkshire Police reporting the same issue in early May ) and have given your teams any information that I have gathered to help build a case. 
The lack of information is distressing to my family, in particular to my father who feels that he has lost his only brother. 
I have been collating all my experiences anonymously via a blog that has also acted as a diary. As of tonight, I am encouraging the press to look into this and will continue to do so until my relatives have been found and made safe. 
All details can be found here
I would greatly welcome some news and support from your team. ‘
Regards
I did receive a reply – which although not massively heartening, at least made me feel like somebody was taking note.

‘Dear 

RE: Arthur and Shirley Hodge

Thank you for your email dated 9th July 2018, of which I acknowledge receipt, in regard to the above matter. I have passed this onto my colleagues in Health and Adult Services, in order that they can investigate and respond to the points that you have raised.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Pilling

Senior Officer’

 

And then nothing happened – this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was in a way, I was starting to see the scope of the problem here and unless a law has clearly been broken, Social Services have no right of access.

And I don’t think I want them to have.

As painful as this is, the idea of well meaning idiots having access to your home without a warrant is terrifying.

But.

I couldn’t sit back and passively wait for nothing to happen for weeks more.

So I consulted with friends and we put a credible plan in place to try to track them down, we had a list of criteria for towns that they might be in and another list of volunteers who would try to see what we could shake loose.

I printed dozens of photos of Arthur and put them in my car along with business cards and other details ready for when we visited the towns.

Meanwhile….

THANK YOU ALL

The Twitter response was extraordinary and a few people were incredibly supportive in trying to keep awareness up of their disappearance and my Direct Messages were often incredibly moving. I can’t thank you all enough, you know who you are…

 

Unexpected Events

On  the 14th July, they turned up again in the same Kia that they had left in, so I notified Social Services (again) receiving a ‘Thank You’ on the 16th.

And nothing happened.

Nothing at all .

Again.

There’s a pattern here and it’s mostly filled with blank spaces.

The neighbours saw Social Services drive past without stopping on the 16th July and shouting and bawling was heard from the house that night.

But the neighbours were and are starting to feel the pressure.

The place stinks, adult diapers are bulging from the bin, but the bin-men won’t take it. Calls to environmental health haven’t really helped.

And Susan has taken to standing in the garden to glare at the neighbours opposite, she’s slowly wearing them all down.

I spoke to one of the neighbours at length and decided that a visit wouldn’t hurt, it’s a lovely area anyway and I could combine tourism with a little checking up.

Road Trip

So on the 21st July, I was back in Middleham, I took tea with both sets of neighbours and offered to buy them beers in the local hotel in the evening. They gave me some more details on the driver of the Kia, I still don’t know exactly who he is, but now think that I could track him down in less than a day if need be.

They also told me a grim little story of how Susan had been bellowing at her mother the night before.

A Daughter’s Love

Susan’s mum, is incontinent, as is my Aunt.

It’s an age and infirmity thing and I can only imagine that it’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and a source of constant worry.

Quite why she feels the need to move them around the country at a moment’s notice in cramped cars is beyond me.

As is this.

On Friday 20th July, Susan was screaming at her mother who had soiled herself again, a stream of invective telling her how foul and filthy she was.

When her mother argued back that she was indeed her mother and entitled to a little respect; Susan screamed ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE RESPECT FOR ME…. FOR ME..’

Sadly, the neighbours didn’t call the police that night.

Beer And Comfort

I bought the neighbours a few drinks that night and also managed to bump into the area Police Commander to give him some glowing feedback on his team. He couldn’t really comment but promised to make sure that the officers concerned would get the praise in their files.

I think that the neighbours now understand that they’re in a fight whether they like it or not, Susan will complain to the Police every chance she gets. it’s her way. They need to play by the same rules; move away or suffer the pain every day until something bad happens.

Nothing else happened that night, I didn’t go anywhere near the house as I didn’t want Susan to know I was in the area.

Yet.

A Walk In The Sun

On Sunday afternoon, I parked my car in full view of their house and took a walk to the river that flows less than a quarter of a mile from the bottom of the road, I took a few photos and basically enjoyed the walk.

I enjoyed the curtains almost being ripped from the poles as I walked back to the car more though.

I think that Susan may have one or two anger issues but I can’t be sure.

I drove home and had a few beers, happy that I had at least made sure that I had thanked the people most affected by this mess and that I had probably jarred her equilibrium for a day.

I Don’t Like Mondays

Quite a lot of things happened on the Monday, I’ll note them in the order that they occurred.

I received a letter from Joseph Smith of North Yorkshire Social Services, remember that name, he’s going to pop up again in this and subsequent posts.

Here it is:

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 10.48.41

My reply was to the point and indicated mild dissatisfaction

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 10.56.17

I then received a text from the neighbours at 15:50 to say that the usual woman from Social Services had turned up with a man that they hadn’t seen before.

They were silly enough to ask the neighbours if they were OK and then received the full benefit of months of frustration, they were taken aback by this as it was the first time that they had actually talked to a neighbour. 

The.

First.

Time.

After this encounter, they tried to knock at Arthur’s door but all the curtains were now closed and they were denied entry.

And then at 18:30 Susan’s Brother, Francis Auckland arrived and they filled the boot of his car with items from the house before he drove off.

A Series of Unconnected Events.

Late on Tuesday night, real actual screaming could be heard from the house and then Arthur could be heard shouting to ‘Call the Police’

Lots of shouting about a break-in could be heard and after a while somebody turned up in a car, looked around the perimeter of the house with a torch and said that they couldn’t see any intruders, any sign of intruders or any sign of a break-in.

On Wednesday, Nobby the cab driver turned up along with Susan’s brother and all four people got into the cab with luggage and they drove off at 14:15.

At 14:30, I informed the Police and Social Services about the three unconnected events, making sure that I mentioned the loading of the car on Monday.

At 14:45, her Brother returned to the house to check the windows, I again informed all parties.

At 15:09 the usual social worker and another ‘official looking woman’ talked to Susan’s Brother on the drive of Arthur’s house.

At 20:48 they returned home.

And that’s where they are now.

Letters From The Past

The wider family have been writing to Arthur, but only one ‘Signed For’ letter has got through so far – it’s from his cousin Vera and was signed for by ‘S Auckland’, all other letters have been turned away or the door hasn’t been answered.

The Postwoman isn’t happy at all.

People will continue to write and we’ll see if Arthur actually got that letter.

Because.

Vera went to Mencap to see if they could help with the situation.

They contacted North Yorkshire and then got back to Vera to say that they’d made contact but couldn’t help any further.

She then received a call from Joseph Smith (remember him) who told her that there were no signs of abuse. He did ask if she knew me though, I guess I’m becoming a bit of a irritant.

She told him that I was a wonderful caring Nephew who was trying to help his Uncle while the state ignore him.

And then Vera tore him a new orifice and pointed out to him that coercion was indeed abuse, that she believed that Arthur was being controlled and that her letter had been received but she’d had no reply.

Joseph had to agree the coercion point, which once again makes me wonder if they just have a script to fob relatives off with?

Because.

Because.

Because, there are actually official guidelines for this stuff.

Just look at them.

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 10.57.07

Screen Shot 2018-08-01 at 10.56.51

I’ve been writing about this since May and have started to do some real digging on this, and if this is available to the public, there MUST be better information available for those entrusted by the state to look after the vulnerable.

So why the fobbing off ?

I suspect that they’re at an impasse and unless they ask the police to look into fraudulent activities, that they don’t know what to do next.

But Joseph Smith has stated to Vera that he’d go to the house (possibly today) to talk to Arthur to see if he’d got the letter – which Susan signed for.

More letters are due for redelivery this week too.

We’re not holding our collective breath.

But we’re watching you now Joseph

To Be Continued (Sadly)

Cry Havoc

Featured

20180708_085418Are you ready? Let’s begin

I probably don’t need to recap any more, all the updates are here.

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men

Disturbia

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Just a week ago, I was given news that the neighbourhood police team in Yorkshire had been, in their own time, making sure that the effort to help my Uncle continued and had in fact opened up a dialogue with the lunatic that was causing so much effort to be expended and had caused so much pain.

The reason for the call was that I had alerted them that they may be planning to move shortly, go to another county and escape the net that was very, very slowly closing in.

I was so happy with this, it meant that I could relax, just a bit and get on with my real life for a week or two and give my Dad some good news for once.

It’s probably worth pointing out that this effort was not mandated by the police, North Yorkshire Social Services were and are the lead agency in this case.

Sadly.

So when I received a call from a neighbour on Thursday this week telling me that:

A car was on the drive, that the two old ladies had been sat in the back for over thirty minutes while the car was being loaded up to the roof and that it looked like they were going to run.

I was a bit surprised, a bit angry and more than a bit worried.

These are the things that I did in the next five minutes.

While. I. Was. In. A. Supermarket

  • I called a police officer’s direct number and left a message.
  • I sent an email to the police that had been helping, with the registration details – only to receive an out of office in both cases.
  • I rang 121 and reported an incident
  • I rang the lead social worker.

I was surprised to get through and told her that they were getting ready to run. I gave the car details – a silver Kia (Sedona) with the registration K14 xxx.

She was a bit surprised and said ‘I was due to call her this afternoon, perhaps I’d best ring her now?’.

Resisting the temptation to scream (I was still in the supermarket) I told her to do that and hung up.

And that was it.

Radio Silence.

I’ve heard nothing from social services since Thursday.

2020 update. I now know that they went to Cambridgeshire and most likely lived with Lionel Bowden or nearby. Arthur’s accounts were effectively frozen and the cash supply had dried up. This most likely accounts for the relatively brief time that they spent there.

The Thin Blue Line

Just over two hours later, I received a mail from one of the off-duty police officers, he’d forwarded the details to a colleague and they were in contact with social services.

Yesterday I received a very sympathetic call from one of his colleagues, I won’t repeat any of it here (yet anyway) but it was now very clear that social services had ignored information that the police had given them just a week before and had taken steps that may cause the lunatic to run – but hadn’t told the police.

Bhairava

According to Demonology, naming a demon gives you power over them. Anybody who’s delved further back into my blogs knows of my half-joking relationship with the god-aspect Shiva.

It was only a few hours ago that I was thinking about him, I sat on a plinth by a weir that used to be an old mill-race and just let myself relax and sink into the moment.

He’s an interesting character and has many aspects – I suppose we all do really.

I’ll leave you to look the name above up, but it’s appropriate, my time for playing nicely is over.

I tried to let the system do this, but there’s something fundamentally wrong and if they don’t start helping me, I’m going to declare war on them. I fired a shot via twitter yesterday, but they just don’t understand how much effort I’ve put into this, how many hours of work, how many thousands of miles driven and pounds spent. They don’t get how much effort that good friends have spent trying to help me, all while the system flounders and wobbles in it’s efforts to move forward.

Let’s Name Names

My Uncle is Arthur Hodge. I’m one of eight nephews. It may well be that I won’t be anonymous after this week, let the dice fall where they may.

His Wife – who is pretty much wheelchair-bound and incontinent is Shirley Hodge.

The foulness at the heart of this story, the agent of chaos, destruction and misery across two counties (at least), the controlling, paranoid cause of all this effort.

Is Susan Auckland.

Susan Auckland.

Got that?

Bonnie and Clyde

I’m going to fill the rest of this with witness statements and information that I’ve already passed to social services over the past months.

Here We Go

This is from the day that my Aunt was buried, See The Last Detective for the full story.

The amazing Geoff Turner did more in one hour than social services managed in months. I’m forever in his debt for this.

6Th June 2018

At 1.56pm on Tuesday 5th June 2018, I went into the K’Teas cafe in Leyburn Square. I there saw an elderly gentleman, who I now know to be Arthur Hodge.

He was sitting alone, at a table, pouring himself a cup of tea, from a pot in front of him.

I watched him pour the tea slowly and then drink from the cup. After he had finished the drink, he got up, knocking the table to one side slightly and began to stumble backwards. I immediately asked him if he was alright. He looked up and said “sorry?” I again asked him if he was alright and he said that he was, he just wanted to change sides, whilst he waited for someone. He moved to the side next to me and on sitting, pushed the chair into a dresser with crockery on it. I became concerned that he would knock something from the dresser, so I stood up and went to his aid. Helping him to sit down.

He started a conversation with me.

Arthur “I’m waiting for ‘This lady’ (he repeatedly referred to her as ‘This lady’), she’s gone for her hair done”

“ She dropped you off for a nice cup of tea?”

Arthur “Yes, She should be here soon.”

He repeatedly kept looking towards the doorway and checking his watch.

I again asked if he was ok, he said he was.

The conversation continued:-

Arthur “Are you from here?”

“No , I’m from Sheffield.”

Arthur “We live in Middleham, in a bungalow. There’s four of us. Me, my wife, ‘This lady’ and her mother, we moved up a few months ago.”

We continued to chat about the area and him living there for a short time. He then unprovoked, told me, he was not happy.

Arthur kept looking at the door, like he was worried that someone might overhear, I felt that he was taking me, a stranger, into his confidence somehow.

He repeatedly told me not to say anything to her, when she came in. “She won’t like it”

I asked how he met the woman, he told me that he used to walk a dog, that belonged to a neighbour of hers, they got chatting and one day she phoned him and asked him to take her to the hospital “And that was that”.

The conversation continued:-

Arthur “There’s this bungalow that we bought together, but really it’s not suitable. Not suitable for older people.”

He then went on to tell me of the others in the house, being elderly

Arthur “ My wife, she’s not very good on her feet and ‘This lady.’ “Her mum is 91, coming up 92, so she’s not very good, erm really erm well, we shouldn’t have bought it. Well we’ve got it now. But I think it’s gonna sort, be a bit heavy”

He then went on to tell me that they were going to sell the bungalow, but wasn’t sure when. They had to still sort it out. He referred to ‘hundreds of boxes’ and the skip that they were filling. He was working hard sorting it out, it seemed to prey heavy on his mind.

He continued,

Arthur “Don’t tell my friend, but I think I bought it with my eyes shut. I fell down a wall, they had to tie a rope around me, put it under my arms and pull me up. It hurt my ribs for ages, I was in such pain” He repeated that he thought it was dangerous and not suitable for them. Saying “I wish we hadn’t bought it now”

Arthur “ I don’t like it. There’s nothing to do, but sit and look out of the window, we can’t walk anywhere, it’s too steep. We just sit there. We haven’t even had a telly, well we got one now. Cost sixy pounds, never been used, alright that, isn’t it? But you can’t just look out the window all day, can you? No good for no one”

He told me that the money in his account had been frozen by the Social, He complained that it wasn’t right as it was “My fucking money.” He continued, that ‘This lady’ was paying for everything for them, food, everything. Looking after them financially.

He spoke about his family down south and that it was his sisters funeral about now, how sad he was that he had missed it. He told me that one of the family had come up to take him to the funeral, but ‘This Lady’ had warned him not to go, because “My family, well, they’re trouble, she doesn’t want me getting into trouble with them. I don’t know how to get hold of them anyway, I did have a book with all the names and addresses in it, but it’s gone.”

He felt upset about this, he talked about his brother and how he should have gone, but:-

Arthur “She’ says I shouldn’t go. I can’t do much about that, I can’t even contact them”

He continued to look at the door and repeatedly asked me not to say anything.

He told me that they had previously looked at buying a house in Stamford, they had paid the survey, but lost the house. “One thousand fucking pounds, that’s not right is it? I lost that, haven’t I?”

He mentioned that he has cataracts and needs an operation, but it’s going to cost £3000. I mentioned the NHS, but he said there was “too long a waiting list, have to have it done private.” It seemed a conclusion that he hadn’t come to himself, like he was resigned to it.

He told me of a relative of ‘This Lady’ called Francis. He was coming up to the house soon “Probably this week. He don’t like us, calls me and my wife Bonnie and Clyde”

I asked why he felt that, but he wouldn’t expand. He said that he was alright when they met him in public, at the cafe recently. But chose not to tell me why he felt that Francis didn’t like them. I got the feeling that he was being verbally abused or talked about in the house, by him.

The conversation moved onto other things, stories of his younger days, which he relished in telling me, where his face lit up in a smile. He joked with me and we laughed over it, but any return to his present situation and he lost the sparkle. We chatted for some considerable time, but I had the feeling that he was being controlled, told what to do and was fearful of what ‘This Lady’ might say to him. He never referred to her with any form of endearment. Repeatedly, he told me not to say anything and to “keep it to myself”

At around 2.45pm the same day, a woman, who I now know to be Susan Auckland entered the cafe and beckoned him with her head.

Susan “Come on”

She was brusque with him and commanded him out.

I attempted to start a conversation with her, she ignored me.

Susan to Arthur “You’ve been talking, haven’t you?”

Arthur “No, I erm”

Susan “Have you paid?”

Arthur “No, I haven’t, I erm”

She then ushered him to the toilet and took out her purse, she appeared to be quite cross. I again tried to speak with her, but she turned her back. She spoke to the waitress and demanded a receipt for the bill, which came to less than £5.00. I think it was £4.75, but I am unsure.

I followed Arthur to the toilet, the toilet was a single mens / ladies toilet, he did not have the door locked. I waited for him to come out and wished him a pleasant afternoon.

I followed them out of the cafe where I heard her mention something about going on a bus to Ripon and something about getting him back, on the motorway to Cambridge. But I did not hear the full conversation.

I watched them for a while and witnessed her ordering him about, into different shops, being quite sharp with him. She then made a phone call and then walked off, with Arthur following several paces behind her, all the time.

I left the square shortly after and did not see them again.

I had the feeling that he was being controlled by her. He was confused by the entire situation and didn’t seem to know how to deal with it. I got the distinct impression, that he was not happy, but couldn’t do anything about it. He was unsure about his money. Had no idea how bills were being paid and did at one point comment that “This Lady’ keeps us.” He appeared helpless, lost even.

Several times, he asked me where I was stopping, I kept telling him, but he would return to the question again and again. His memory of distant events was sound, but his short term memory was lacking.

History Lessons

This from my trip to Frinton, a few names are changed to protect the innocent, seeNo Country For Old Men for details.

Regarding – Arthur and Shirley Hodge, Susan and Barbara Auckland

On Saturday 9th June, I travelled to Frinton-on-Sea and Kirby Cross in Essex with a view to discovering what information could be found regarding my Uncle (Arthur Hodge) before his move to Middleham.

I initially spoke to the Branch Manager of an Estate Agent

He told me that he had notified Essex Social Services early on in the sale process of my Uncle’s bungalow and that the sale was delayed from February to December 2017 while the investigation continued.

He was of the view that Susan was controlling my Uncle at that stage and that Arthur was living in her flat at 2 Marine Court, The Esplanade for a period of over a month, not even leaving to visit his wife in hospital or to go home and change clothes.

He stated that he would arrange ‘appointments’ to meet my Uncle to discuss the sale and would then take him to the hospital in his own car, once taking him back to his bungalow so that he could change clothes.

He was and remains extremely concerned about the situation, he described Susan as ‘dripping poison into Arthur’s ear’ and shared with me that he had been in contact with:

Hannah X – Essex Social Services –

PC X ? – unsure of spelling) &

PC Y of Essex Police.

They also handled the sale of Susan’s flat and he stated that ‘only one photo could be taken as the place was such a mess’ -he said that it was a ‘really bad hoarder’ situation.

He also seemed to think that my Uncle et al moved to Cambridge for a period after they left Frinton, possibly renting a property via a relative. He said that Susan frequently calls the branch asking them to do Internet searches, most recently for a Citroen garage in Holland-on-Sea.

He suggested that I should talk to the neighbours and rang a lady named from Kirby Cross (I have her phone number if necessary), who agreed to meet me.

I spoke to her at length and she is willing to write a statement and appear in court (The Court of Protection) if necessary, she also introduced me to a lady named Sheila who lives near my Uncle’s previous address.

They told me that my Uncle had become involved with Susan after meeting her on the Greensward at Frinton while walking a neighbour’s dog, and that even early into the relationship, he was spending considerable sums of money.

  • Buying them a fridge
  • Spending over £100 on food.

The neighbours were concerned at his behavior and tried to speak with him on a number of occasions, particularly while his wife was in hospital.

She repeatedly mentioned that Arthur at this stage was dishonest in his dealings with the neighbours and social services.

She gave an example of:

Shirley Hodge was due to leave hospital, but after the date, wasn’t seen by the neighbours. Arthur told them that she had ‘left hospital, fallen and hit her head and gone back in.

It later transpired that he had driven Susan to Yorkshire despite having his licence taken away by Essex Police following a series of small incidents and that he was stopped on the journey and had his car taken away, having to go back to Essex in a cab. Shirley Hodge remained in hospital at this time.

After Susan sold Marine Court, she and her mother moved into Arthur’s house.

Police and Social Services were present at the house on a number of occasions, but the curtains were now closed 24 x 7 and nobody would answer the door.

I was told a number of disturbing things and will only include those that I deem most worrying.

  • A relative of Shirley Hodge wrote to her C/O the neighbour as previous letters and phone calls had gone unanswered. This was hand delivered.
  • Shirley Hodge was left alone in the house for three days and resorted to banging on the partition wall for help, Essex Police had to force the back door
  • Mrs Y was physically assaulted by Susan Auckland (pushed from behind and in front) after delivering £30 to Arthur for the use of his drive while hers was being worked on
  • The house was full of newspapers that wrapped human faeces (I am told that the skip in Middleham contained soiled adult diapers as of last week) and any letters etc. that were lying around had obscenities scrawled on them
  • Susan Auckland had reportedly been arrested and charged with assault previously in Essex.

The neighbours were and remain concerned about Arthur and Shirley; they would welcome them back to the area, but are clearly terrified by Susan.

I am passing you this information for two reasons:

  1. I hope that it will help build a bigger picture of the situation and give you details that you may not have at this stage.
  2. I am now extremely concerned that this has long been a large concern to both social services and police but that any progress was lost after the move.

I would appreciate anything that you can do to keep me apprised of any progress in this case, but I am giving myself a personal hard-stop date on this of Friday 29th June.

If no access can be gained by that time and no view taken as to Arthur’s capacity, I will go to the Court of Protection on Monday 2nd July and begin the process to apply to be a Deputy for Arthur and Shirley Hodge.

Dire Predictions

This is from me to social services one week ago and referenced in Disturbia

Again, all names of witnesses are anonymised.

Regarding – Arthur and Shirley Hodge, Susan and Barbara Auckland

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your time yesterday and for your candour as to the current situation and possible next steps.

My concerns in this matter have only escalated over time and it seems that the more people that I speak to, then the picture becomes more worrying.

The latest information that I have had from Nobby is that Susan is planning to relocate to somewhere near Lincoln in ‘8-10 weeks’.

This shows a pattern that began earlier this year when all four people in the house left in her brother Francis’ car (a distinctive number plate ) with no luggage and did not return for four months (from Jan to late April).

At that time, they were in a rural location near Cambridge and were picked up by Limpy – this was his first interaction with them.

Francis has familial connections in both Cambridge and Lincoln

As you are aware, my concern is that your investigation will come to a halt if they move for a long enough period and if they don’t leave a forwarding address; nobody will know to investigate.

I have spoken to a large number of people while trying to backtrack what has occurred with my uncle and I would ask that your team make contact with these people as supporting material for your case.

These people are:

XXXX – Branch Manager of YYYY Estate Agents – Frinton

He notified Essex Social Services early on in the sale process of my Uncle’s bungalow and that the sale was delayed from February to December 2017 while the investigation continued.

He was of the view that Susan was controlling my Uncle at that stage and that Arthur was living in her flat at 2 Marine Court, The Esplanade for a period of over a month, not even leaving to visit his wife in hospital or to go home and change clothes.

He was and remains extremely concerned about the situation, he described Susan as ‘dripping poison into Arthur’s ear’ and shared with me that he had been in contact with:

XXXXXof Kirby Cross XXXXXXX

I spoke to Mrs. XXXXX at length and she is willing to write a statement and appear in court (The Court of Protection)

She told me that my Uncle had become involved with Susan after meeting her on the Greensward at Frinton while walking a neighbour’s dog late in 2016, early 2017 and that even early into the relationship, he was spending considerable sums of money.

  • Buying them a fridge
  • Spending over £100 on food.

Mrs. Cook said that Arthur at this stage was dishonest in his dealings with the neighbours and social services.

an example below:

Shirley Hodge was due to leave hospital, but after the date, wasn’t seen by the neighbours. Arthur told them that she had ‘left hospital, fallen and hit her head and gone back in.

It later transpired that he had driven Susan to Yorkshire despite having his licence taken away by Essex Police following a series of small incidents and that he was stopped on the journey and had his car taken away, having to go back to Essex in a cab. Shirley Hodge remained in hospital at this time.

Shirley Hodge was left alone in the house for three days and resorted to banging on the partition wall for help, Essex Police had to force the back door

Mrs X was physically assaulted by Susan Auckland (pushed from behind and in front) after delivering £30 to Arthur for the use of his drive while hers was being worked on

The house was full of newspapers that wrapped human faeces (I am told that the skip in Middleham contained soiled adult diapers as of last week) and any letters etc. that were lying around had obscenities scrawled on them

‘Ken’ – I can’t remember his surname – 01255 xxxxxx

Upstairs neighbour of Susan and Barbara at XXXX describes them as the ‘neighbours from Hell’, stated that they cooked on a portable hob, placed on boxes in the hallway of the flats (seeLimpy below). Also stated that any attempt to get Susan to fix things, etc. was met by her calling the Police (see below). Alleged that Susan would steal items from charity shop doorways and resell them.

Nobby – 07xxxxxx

Taxi Driver to Susan and Arthur since their return from Cambridge. Has assisted Arthur with a number of jobs around the house, including clearing boxes and debris from the kitchen – which hid the cooker. Saw a 2 ring hob – collaborating the Frinton neighbour’s account. States that the house smells like faeces and that ‘you wouldn’t let a dog live there’

Confirmed on a phone call on Wednesday27th June that the mobile phone that I bought Arthur was still in the house, that he had seen it and discussed it with Arthur in Susan’s presence

He then told me on Thursday 28th June that Arthur had smashed it as ‘people were using it to listen in on us’.

Downhill next door neighbours to Arthur and Susan.

They have been concerned since Arthur moved in and have a catalogue of stories that include.

Their garden being invaded by Rats from Number 3, as food and other items was being dumped in the garden.

Shirley and Barbara being left alone for up to nine hours on the days that Susan and Arthur go out.

Susan burning adult diapers a few weeks ago in the garden and then calling the police when xxx trained the hose on the fire.

Shouts and noises coming from the house after 2am some nights.

I was in their house when I saw Susan throw my letter and condolence card for Arthur that I had just hand delivered in the skip- which was full of adult diapers and was attracting birds.

XXx has repeatedly complained that she never sees ‘social’ and that she has never been asked what might be happening. This is the case with the uphill neighbours , (I don’t know their phone number at this stage) who have again told of shouting and strange behaviour, often at 4am.

She has called me today to ask for progress and has told me that she has ‘had enough’ and is going to call Social Services – I have given her your number.

The whole timeline of this case is filled with disturbing incidents and I was shocked to discover on a conference call with Leyburn Police and Social Services before you joined the team that they were not aware of the case in Essex.

This is a long letter, but my fundamental point is that it appears that by moving from Essex, the investigation completely stopped and it was only when Susan called the Police to say that I was trying to break into the house that they went back on the radar.

My main concern is for my uncle and aunt and despite Arthur’s assurances to you that he is ‘OK’ – there is nothing OK about a situation that has:

  • Now been investigated by both Essex Social Services & Police and North Yorkshire Social Services and Police
  • Prompted intervention from his bank due to serious irregularities with his account.
  • Caused the neighbours in both towns to want to seek help
  • Prompted an Estate Agent to report the situation and delay his own sale for 10 months
  • Has an eighty-four year old man tell a complete stranger on the day of his only sister’s funeral that he was told not to go as his family ‘would get him into trouble’

Therefore, I implore you that:

  • you get your team to talk to anybody that I have named in this letter that you have not contacted
  • that you get oversight of Arthur’s bank statements and have them looked at by an accountant or financial investigator
  • that you take the Francis connection seriously and ask the basic question of how people with no money, jobs or means of getting a reference could possibly rent anywhere for months at a time without outside assistance.

I will be seeking legal advice this week to see what options I have so that Arthur and Shirley’s welfare is protected, this includes applying for Deputy status based on coercion rather than capacity.

Yours Sincerely

That’s All Folks

For now anyway.

It’s not all bad, I’ve made some new allies in the past few days and one in particular is very likely to be able to get me an address of where they’ve holed up.

People I’ve never met have given me encouragement that actually made me cry, thank you I love you all and you’re helping to keep me going.

I’m taking legal advice as to what my options are now – whether it’ll help, only time will tell.

The bank know that they’ve gone so can track any transactions.

North Yorkshire Police will keep an eye out.

And I’ll find them and get Arthur and Shirley into care.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Council, you have two choices.

Help me or prepare for a storm that you won’t soon forget.

To Be Continued

Disturbia

Featured

 Have Another Recap

If you haven’t read the whole sorry saga so far; it’s here:

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men

But to summarise:

My Uncle and his wife went missing late last year and all contact was lost, no phone number, no forwarding address and a drive to his house showed that he’d moved.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  Susan Auckland – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down Susan’s family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Susan has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

But in the background I did lots more work and when we got the date of the funeral, I asked Social Services to let him know the date, only to find that they hadn’t seen him so far.

I wrote two letters that cross-referenced each other and bought him a mobile phone, programming my number and my Dad’s number into it.

The first letter said that I would be back on the 2nd June and would take him to Norfolk on the 3rd June if he still wanted to attend the funeral.

The second letter stated that I would call him on Monday.

I then went back to Middleham, staying in a very pleasant hotel for the duration, delivered the phone and letter by hand, caught up with his neighbours and drove home.

Then on the Monday, I called him – the phone was switched off and stayed that way despite me calling and texting every day.

Until Wednesday 30th May.

He called my Dad and gave a string of vague excuses as to why he couldn’t go to the funeral and I put a plan into motion that produced some startling results.

I went back to Middleham and put a letter and condolence card through his door with instructions to either come to the hotel on Sunday 3rd June so that we could travel to the funeral … Or, deliver the card to me so that I could take it.

Twenty minutes later, while having tea with the neighbours, we saw her put the letter and card into the skip on their drive.

Neither my Uncle or the card turned up at the hotel and I left Middleham for Norfolk and the funeral on Sunday afternoon – and all was lost.

Or it would have been apart from two friends who stayed for a few days to watch the house.

And by something approaching a miracle, contact was made with my Uncle in a cafe, roughly at the same time as the funeral.  A long conversation was had that showed a very dark and disturbed picture of a frightened man cut adrift from his family with no way of making contact.

It was heartbreaking and a very detailed statement was passed to North Yorkshire Police and Social Services.

And then I did some old fashioned legwork and went back to Frinton, speaking to an Estate Agent who told me that he’d delayed his own sale for 10 months as he called Police and Social Services as he was so concerned about the situation.

I also spoke to the neighbours at his old address who told me a non-stop series of horror stories that were hard to hear as they painted a picture of possible insanity and some real abuse.

I sent a statement to Social Services and then decided to drop out for a few weeks and let the situation move on.

I was sort of successful.

Things that Bounce…

  • Small dogs looking for food
  • Footballs and tennis balls chased by small dogs
  • Cheques

And so it was that I learned of a local tradesman who’d been given a cheque that bounced and from there… I found my Uncle’s bank account details and put a call into their system on a Friday afternoon. I made it clear that I didn’t expect a call back but for them to call Social Services if they had any concerns about the account.

And So

I didn’t expect a call from anybody and actually had to sit down when the bank called me back.

All banks have a customer protection team and I received a call from the head of the UK team who told me that he’d received my call and wanted to just check a few things..

Twenty minutes later, I’d given a full update and when I was asked who I was dealing with in Social Services, I was told ‘that’s the right answer’.

My legs actually wobbled a bit when he told me that he’d been working on my Uncle’s case for over Six Months and I was actually quite emotional for a few seconds as he told me what he could:

The account had seen a level of activity that my new contact had never seen before in a normal, pensioner’s account and he had taken immediate and proactive action.

We chatted for a while and he asked me if I knew what the Cambridge connection was? I didn’t know 100% so could only give a vague answer. He was kind enough to give me his email and mobile number and we wrapped the call up with two questions from me.

‘Does my Uncle have any money left at all?’

‘Yes’

‘Great, is his account frozen?’

‘I can’t answer that but I’d refer you back to my proactive action statement’

I hung up feeling that the system was perhaps working and that maybe the financial aspect was being looked at too.

I left it a week before contacting Social Services, assuming that the bank would let them know.

2020 update. The Cambridge Connection is Lionel Bowden. He lives in a town a few miles away from Cambridge and has acted as:

  • Facilitator to properly owners – including a gentleman who Arthur paid FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS for house rental in January 2018. Just a month or so after moving to Leyburn, they all trooped off to Cambridge and a rented house. It was the owner of the house who first alerted social services in Cambridge. He also evicted them in April 2018 due to the disgusting state that his house had become.
  • Cab Driver- he has a cab firm LB Cabs – it doesn’t appear to be licensed
  • Fraudster…. – years later, I can confirm that Lionel triggered the bank investigation with this cheque. Neither written or signed by Arthur.

Arthur remembered nothing of this. Just that he’d lent ‘thousands’ to Lionel for an ‘operation’ and it had never been repaid.

Pre-lockdown, I had prepared an invoice for £4,000 as an under-estimate of what I think Lionel has had in cash from Arthur, but then Lockdown happened and Arthur died.

Naming him as a thief will have to do, you know who I am if you read this Lionel.

And that idiot solicitor who we’ll come to in another post know how to find me.

Bring it on, please…

Arthur had over £53,0000 in December 2017. By March 2018, he was down to £32,000. That’s why the bank stepped in. He was haemorrhaging money.

Incoming! Incoming!

And then, within two hours of each other, I had calls last week with old but very pertinent information and a call from the neighbours that pushed my concern levels back up to redline.

A Voice from the Past

I received a call from the upstairs neighbour of Susan and her mum – I’d left a business card with the lady with the guide dog that I mentioned in the last update.

He described them as the ‘neighbours from Hell’, with a few choice details that I didn’t know from before – little things like they cooked on a portable hob, placed on boxes in the hallway of the flats. 

He also stated that any attempt to get Susan to fix things, clear up, etc. was met by her calling the Police on the neighbours saying that she’d been harassed.

It was all very useful and I agreed to take him for a coffee in Frinton when we get closer to resolution.

Rumours from Afar

Within ten minutes of that call, I got another one from a neighbour saying that they’d heard from somebody who’d spoken to somebody that the house had been privately sold to a builder and that they’d be gone in four weeks.

I asked for clarity and for the people involved to call me, then I sent a mail to social services and the bank and waited.

And nothing much happened.

So I went to the source of the rumour.

But first, another call from afar.

A Backward Step

For a few days anyway.

I heard from Social Services, they’d met with my Uncle and Sharon and he had a message that we shouldn’t worry and that he was OK. They met at the bank and I made the point forcefully, a few times; that any conversation with her present didn’t make me feel better.

My contact said that they’re still working on it from all angles, but I didn’t feel better.

At all.

And I couldn’t tell my Dad this..

Conversations with a Profiteer

There are people who do the right thing every time, they do it because they know that it is the right thing and they can’t imagine anything else.

I’ve been so lucky so far, everybody that I’ve talked to are honest, nice people who genuinely want the best outcome.

Then I talked to the source of the rumour.

‘Nobby’. A local cab driver..

We talked a few times and he said all the right things, he hates Susan and seems to genuinely like my Uncle.

He’s been in the house many times and has said that ‘you wouldn’t want a dog to live there’.

As part of establishing my bona-fides, I told him that I’d bought a mobile phone for my Uncle, he confirmed that he’d seen it the day before and that Susan had asked my Uncle why it was out in the open.

Then the next day, he rang me to say that my Uncle had smashed it to pieces as ‘it was being used as a listening device’.

He then sent me a text asking if I’d knocked on his door on Friday? I told him that I was in Essex and that I didn’t know his address.

And just like that, I stopped talking to him.

2020 update We’ll come on to you in another post Ian.. Yes I know your name, where you live, where you drink with your brothers, everything.

As far as I’m aware, only one person in the area would want to know where I was and wouldn’t be able to ask directly.

My new contact is making lots of cash from doing odd jobs for them, all of it receipted and he’s on to a good thing.  So he’s told me a few things and he’s almost certainly told her that I’m talking to the neighbours.

Good.

Hypothetically Speaking

What would somebody do?  If they were:

  • paranoid
  • borderline insane with violent tendencies
  • Used to using the system for their own advantage
  • Convinced that they were being spied on by a distant enemy

A new enemy, one that won’t go away, one that uses the same system, thinks every move through in advance and backstops everything with written and photographic evidence.

They might make a formal complaint that the neighbours were spying on them and that they had a fear, a very real fear that somebody out there named Small Thunderdog wished them harm. That this person might cause them some sort of physical harm or worse.

Hypothetically you might do that.

Imagine how awful it would be if during this, the person that you’ve been controlling for 18 months now turned round repeatedly and said that they weren’t afraid of their nephew and that they had no reason to be. 

Just imagine.

Imagine how that might weaken your own position and make you more vulnerable to greater scrutiny from the system.

I can’t because it’s only hypothetical and I’m not her.

But the thought gives me a great deal of pleasure, she knows that I’ll never stop and that her only hope is to either get a restraining order on me (impossible – I have no contact at all) or to move away (good luck with that one).

The Weekly Letter

To Social Services hasn’t stopped though, I’ve catalogued everything I know and have asked that they investigate the finances properly, investigate her brother more and TALK TO THE NEIGHBOURS, ALL OF THEM, CURRENT AND PAST. 

Maybe I’m in the wrong job.

What’s That’s Light in the Distance?

There’s a ton of stuff that I haven’t and can’t include in here, I’d be breaking some serious confidences and possibly jeopardising a few things.

What I can say is that mid-week I was as low as I’ve been during this saga so far, but a very long, very detailed conversation yesterday has given me hope that this will get resolved.

I’ve updated my Dad with the news that I have and he seems happier again.

Because…….

There’s a huge number of dedicated, hard-working and supportive people within the system and I’ll be drinking to one of two of them tonight. Me, drinking to Da Police, just imagine.. .

 

To Be Continued

 

No Country For Old Men

Featured

Do You Believe?

That we are all small bright lights in the absolute blackness of a cold universe?

Do you believe that each time we make a connection with another human (or the occasional dog) that we form an invisible but glowing connection that transcends physical distance?

Do you believe that those connections wax and wane throughout our lives and that they never truly vanish, they just grow fainter like the pulse from a distant star, but that the best connections, the truest connections, forged by love; burn bright whether we see them or not?

I’m starting to.

Let’s Recap again

It’s all here.

True Detective  Chinatown Breakdown The Last Detective

My Uncle and his wife went missing late last year and all contact was lost, no phone number, no forwarding address and a drive to his house showed that he’d moved.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down Susan’s family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Susan has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

But in the background I did lots more work and when we got the date of the funeral, I asked Social Services to let him know the date, only to find that they hadn’t seen him so far.

I wrote two letters that cross-referenced each other and bought him a mobile phone, programming my number and my Dad’s number into it.

The first letter said that I would be back on the 2nd June and would take him to Norfolk on the 3rd June if he still wanted to attend the funeral.

The second letter stated that I would call him on Monday.

I then went back to Middleham, staying in a very pleasant hotel for the duration, delivered the phone and letter by hand, caught up with his neighbours and drove home.

Then on the Monday, I called him – the phone was switched off and stayed that way despite me calling and texting every day.

Until Wednesday 30th May.

He called my Dad and gave a string of vague excuses as to why he couldn’t go to the funeral and I put a plan into motion that produced some startling results.

I went back to Middleham and put a letter and condolence card through his door with instructions to either come to the hotel on Sunday 3rd June so that we could travel to the funeral … Or, deliver the card to me so that I could take it.

Twenty minutes later, while having tea with the neighbours, we saw her put the letter and card into the skip on their drive.

Neither my Uncle or the card turned up at the hotel and I left Middleham for Norfolk and the funeral on Sunday afternoon – and all was lost.

Or it would have been apart from two friends who stayed for a few days to watch the house.

And by something approaching a miracle, contact was made with my Uncle in a cafe, roughly at the same time as the funeral.  A long conversation was had that showed a very dark and disturbed picture of a frightened man cut adrift from his family with no way of making contact.

It was heartbreaking and a very detailed statement was passed to North Yorkshire Police and Social Services on Wednesday.

And that was going to be it for a while.

Plan B.

I was a bit down and missing a few people, so changed my plans for the weekend, heading South on Thursday instead of staying in Nantwich.

I worked a ridiculously long day on Friday and decided that maybe a visit to the coast would be a good idea for today – and maybe, just maybe, I could pull at a few loose threads.

So..

Frinton it was..

Frinton-on-Sea

Is a beautiful little town on the Essex Coast, it has amazing sandy beaches, a promenade that stretches for a mile or so, a buzzing high street and it’s flat.

Very Flat.

So why would anybody move from here to a hill in Yorkshire?

Susan and her Mother shared a flat on the seafront, here’s a view.

2009_05240005

So, if you’ve got this, why move at all?

Guide Dogs.

Retire at the age of eight and there is currently an Eighteen Year waiting list  for a retired dog, apparently the longest waiting list in the UK for anything. I found this out today from a blind lady at the cafe where we breakfasted. We chatted for a while and she said that she lived on the seafront.

I mentioned the apartments that Susan lived in and she said that it was nearby but not her block.

She was bright and inquisitive and said that she had a friend who lived there though..

A few more minutes talking and it was clear that her friend lived above Susan and her mum.

I told her the story and she took my business card with a promise to get her friend to call me when he gets back from holiday. I promised to update her and that we’d all go back for tea soon for a catch-up.

And a small glowing connection was made.

The Estate Agent

Who sold both Susan’s and my Uncle’s properties was a five minute walk away and after waiting for his customers to leave, I wandered in and introduced myself.

He looked vague for a second and I mentioned my Uncle.

‘Sit down please, I was wondering about him is he OK?

‘Not really, its quite a bad situation that he’s in, I spoke to one of your colleagues before.. ‘

‘ I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but I suppose that he’s still tied up with Susan?’

‘Yes’

‘Well, I did everything that I could, I even phoned the Police and Social Services and got them involved, but if she’s still around dripping poison in his ear, he probably can’t get away.’

While I sat there in stunned silence, this stranger, this man who could have let things lie and just sold a couple of properties, went on to tell a tale of increasingly bad things.

My Aunt had gone into hospital and my Uncle and already met Susan and her Mother, he then moved into their flat for at least a month, not returning home at all.

He had his driving licence taken away after a few prangs in his car, but still drove all the way to Yorkshire with Susan and her mother leaving my aunt behind. 

Essex Police had put out an alert on his car and he was stopped in Yorkshire, his car impounded and he had to get a cab back.

His house was sold in February, but the police and social services investigation meant that the sale didn’t complete until December.

By Summer, it was clear that he was afraid of Susan; and the estate agent, in his own time and after work would make excuses to pick him up to take him to the hospital to see his wife. 

Otherwise he wouldn’t have gone.

Because by this time, they’d moved in with him.

I was near tears by this point, this stranger had done so much, simply because it was the right thing.

He produced a file with phone numbers and names of police officers and social workers, I now have their names and I’ll be passing them on to Yorkshire.

And then he said that we should talk to the neighbours.

So he called them there and then, they jumped at the chance to talk, we made an appointment for an hour’s time.

I also asked him about Susan’s flat, pointing to it on the wall (it’s up for sale again) and asking what condition it was in.

Awful, we could only take one photo, it was like a bad hoarder sort of thing and it had to be gutted after they left and refitted’ 

I shook his hand and thanked him profusely, promising to come back and update him.

And another connection glowed for an instant.

Intermission

Small dogs and beaches make any situation better.

They just do.

Meet The Neighbours

I can’t use their real names, but we met two sets of neighbours and their interlocking stories are going to haunt me tonight.

But, anyway.

I introduced myself and they were reticent at first, Sharon has scared them, a lot.

Dave, Susan’s husband asked me what I was hoping to do.

‘Put her in prison’

The ice was broken, but the room got colder.

The whole neighbourhood had been concerned about my Uncle and his wife and had played an active part in trying to help him and also keep police and social services updated.

Because Susan had physically assaulted Sheila when she went to my Uncle’s to pay him for a favour he’d done.

Because my Aunt had been left alone for three days locked in a room in her wheelchair with only breakfast cereal.

Because the police had to kick the door in to let her out.

Because Susan had previous and had been charged with assault.

Because the house was a living nightmare.

With.

Obscene things scrawled on all the letters and paperwork in the house, newspapers full of human shit all over the floors, rubbish everywhere and the curtains were closed all the time. Your Aunt had to bang on the connecting wall to get rescued and she was surrounded by her own shit.’

A very nervous, quite gentle lady told me these things and we talked for over an hour, she despairs of Susan ever getting caught as ‘social services promised that they would send a file to Yorkshire, but they couldn’t have could they?’

We talked a lot and she has volunteered to write a statement and take it to court if necessary.

It probably will be necessary.

The neighbours think that it would be nice if he could move back, they genuinely care.

I promised to go back and update them, kissed both ladies cheeks and left, shocked at the network of people who cared enough to try to help my Uncle.

And two more connections glowed for a moment.

Postscript(s)

During the drive back, I called my new partners in the detective agency, they confirmed that the skip in Middleham was being filled with incontinence pads, so the story is true without a doubt.

During both calls, a glowing connection burned white hot for a few moments.

I then had to tell my Dad the hard truth of what had happened, he took it very well but then..

‘I feel guilty that I’m not doing more, I don’t want you to be alone in this’ 

‘I’m not, I have SO much support..’

‘It’s just that I can’t physically do this’ 

‘Stop, just stop, you did everything for us when we were younger, it’s my turn this time, I promise that you will see your brother again, I promise, I love you Dad’

I hung up as he started crying.

A connection is burning like an arc-welder’s torch right now.

This isn’t over.

It’s dark outside now and it’s even darker where my Uncle is, he thinks he’s alone and cut off now that the funeral is over.

He’s not.

His connection is bright and clear, he just can’t see it.

He will.

To Be Continued

 

 

 

 

The Last Detective

Featured

Screenshot_20180603-235635_Twitter

Let’s Recap – Again

It’s all here… But…

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

I got into this because my Aunt died, I’d offered to drive my Dad to the funeral (once the date was announced) and I went to see him to have a chat, but he was more worried about whether my Uncle would turn up.

My Uncle and his wife went missing late last year and all contact was lost, no phone number, no forwarding address and a drive to his house showed that he’d moved.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down Susan Auckland’s family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Susan has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

But in the background I did lots more work and when we got the date of the funeral, I asked Social Services to let him know the date, only to find that they hadn’t seen him so far.

I wrote two letters that cross-referenced each other and bought him a mobile phone, programming my number and my Dad’s number into it.

The first letter said that I would be back on the 2nd June and would take him to Norfolk on the 3rd June if he still wanted to attend the funeral.

The second letter stated that I would call him on Monday.

I then went back to Middleham, staying in a very pleasant hotel for the duration, delivered the phone and letter by hand, caught up with his neighbours and drove home.

Then on the Monday, I called him – the phone was switched off and stayed that way despite me calling and texting every day.

Until Wednesday 30th May.

An Unexpected Call

I use a text programme called Signal to send and receive SMS / Files etc, and I have it set to show me when texts are received, I was surprised then to see a bunch of them go through to the phone, I then got a phone call from my Dad, he sounded angry, hurt and confused.

My Uncle had called him from the phone that I’d bought and in the shortest conversation that anybody can remember, he said that he had an eye problem and that he couldn’t go to the funeral. He still didn’t remember me and seemed vague about the fact that it was his younger sister who was being buried.

I asked my Dad to text me the details so that we had a trail, tried to reassure him with my plan for the weekend and hung up, slightly depressed and more than a bit angry.

I called my Social Services contact with the update and basically brooded for the evening.

Send In The Clowns

Life is strange, the smallest action has repercussions and impacts much further down the line. I’m an occasional shitposter on Twitter but the account is more photos of the dog and nice things these days. I follow a broad cross-section of people and have met a few over the past few years.

Two of these people offered to help and agreed to watch the house for me over the last weekend and beyond to see what happened after I delivered the letter / left the town / went to the funeral.

How photos of a small dog and a bit of piss-taking turns into people offering their time and travel for free can happen I have no idea.

But I’m glad that it did.

And their contribution has changed everything.

I arrived in Middleham late on Saturday afternoon and was joined for dinner by a notorious tambourine thief on Saturday evening and we discussed the events of the day so far.

Because..

Two Hours Earlier

I had hand-delivered a letter to my Uncle.

This is it in full.

Dear Uncle Arthur

I hope that your conjunctivitis is better, I have driven up to Middleham and will be staying over until tomorrow.

Your Sister’s Funeral is on Tuesday 5th June at St Agatha’s Norfolk.

When we met, (with the policeman) you asked if I would drive you there, the answer is still Yes.

If you would still like to come, please call me on 0772 xxxxx , if you cannot attend, I have a condolence card that you can sign if you wish.

Please let me know what you’d like to do.

I will drive us to Norfolk if you do wish to go I have booked a hotel for two nights, it is fully paid for.

I will drive you back after the funeral if you do wish to go, so please pack enough clothes and any prescription drugs for two nights.

Love

I had enclosed the card and hand-written on the note to sign it and deliver it to the hotel by 1pm if he wasn’t going.

As I posted it, I met one of the neighbours.

The Yorkshire Tea Ceremony

He invited me in for a tea and once again, I had to enjoy the attention of their dog – a Rhodesian Ridgeback that thought that I was either a chew-toy or a hump-toy.  It could have been worse I suppose, it kept me alert at any rate.

We had a good chat and caught each other up on what had been happening, they knew that I’d delivered the phone and were surprised to find that it had actually been used. I explained about the letter and took the opportunity to tell them the real news.

My Uncle’s house would be under surveillance during daylight hours as from Sunday and that any strange cars parked up weren’t sinister.

While we chatted, my Uncle’s door opened and a heavy-set, angry-looking woman appeared, she marched out to the road, looked up and down – presumably for my car and then threw something into the skip while we all watched.

It was fairly obvious what it was, but I finished my tea and chatted for quite a bit longer before leaving and wandering to the skip via a roundabout route.

And.

Unsurprisingly.

The item in the skip was indeed the letter to my Uncle, I took photos and the name was clearly visible. I took photos from a few angles and walked back to the hotel strangely happy.

Cracks in the Armour

We discussed the letter and the conversations with the neighbours over dinner, they had given me some new horror stories and life in the house sounds as miserable as I can imagine. There’s no evidence of physical abuse, but it’s clear that only one person in the house is allowed to have a view or a say in anything.

Dinner was excellent, good food and good service – although I had to get rid of the candle that the landlady had put there after I changed my dinner for one to a table for two….

To walk it off and scout out the house, we took some back paths that bring you out to the corner of the road and we took a slow cautious walk through the churchyard to my Uncle’s house, the curtains were closed but interestingly, the letter was gone, either buried in the skip or removed elsewhere. I can only guess that she didn’t want me or perhaps my Uncle to see it.

Either way, this was good, she’d acted in anger, in full view of two impartial witnesses and it felt like a crack that could be widened with the right pressure.

We parted ways and I tried to sleep.

The Third Man

Turned up on Sunday morning, The Tambourine Thief and I had already walked to the house and met the neighbour on the other side of my Uncle’s house. He offered tea and support and we passed a pleasant ten minutes watching racehorses being walked through the town on their way to the Gallops on the Dales.

Middleham is delightful, I can easily imagine it being a great place to retire to, people are friendly, there are four pubs in a small square, the landscape is amazing and they have a castle just above the town centre.

So why would you move here, cut yourself off, not interact with the neighbours and leave your curtains closed all day when you could be looking at the Dales?

These were the questions that occupied us over coffee that morning while we watched the tourists…

At 12, we split up and the man with the most luxurious moustache in Yorkshire began the first shift of watching the house, which left the two of us with an hour to kill before the card was maybe due to arrive

So, we had a wander and drifted into an antique shop.

Awfully Pleasant Presents

Whereby.

I was bought a splendid Silver Jubilee Plate to replace a plate destroyed by Hurricane Saffa.

The Third Man was bought a delightful perfume bottle in the shape of a poodle with a luxuriant moustache.

Meanwhile, while the Tambourine Thief was giggling to himself like some some of deviant, I picked up a small ornament…

Screenshot_20180603-235530_Twitter (1)

I paid £7 for this stunning piece of artwork and with a jaunty ‘here you go Princess’ I silenced his frankly sinister giggling.

We then settled in to wait.

And nothing happened.

I phoned my Uncle’s number, it didn’t answer.

I sent a string of disappointed texts. No response.

At 13:30 I drove off, leaving the town behind in the care of my two friends.

Just a note here, they refused to take any money or payment of any kind, not for food, petrol, beer, anything. My suggestion that I should do this was dismissed as ‘Noncery’.

So I don’t use words like ‘friends’ lightly, I have very few people that I call that and I’m proud to add these two.

On the Road Again.

I drove to Norfolk, the landscape gradually flattening out into wide open grasslands and then wetlands, but always staggeringly beautiful.

England is an amazing place to drive through, there’s beauty and history wherever you look and the view changes so quickly that a 3 hour drive felt like an hour.

I stopped once for coffee but was keen to see what updates – if any there were from Bodie and Doyle.

I arrived at my hotel parked my car 100 feet from the water and checked in.

Ugh.

What a dump, I’m going to skip over the hotel with a succinct review.

Poor food, bad service, stairs patched with duct tape, awful room, crappy beer and food poisoning.

HOW MUCH? HOW FUCKING MUCH?

Nothing else happened in Middleham on Sunday, except an unexpected result that I’ll put down to Karma or something. I don’t know.

Anyway.

Remember the £7 sand castle?

An identical one is on eBay – bidding was at £893 on Sunday evening, not bad for a bit of slightly gay tat bought as a wind-up. (2020 note. This was a wind-up. Wankers)

Meanwhile

In the world outside, I had a few beers with my cousin on Sunday.

I haven’t seen him for, well, I don’t know. We talked about anything and everything and I was surprised and pleased to find that I really liked him, I put him in a cab and we agreed to meet with his Dad and brother the next day for dinner.

I Don’t Like Mondays

Food poisoning took up most of the day for me, along with work and conference calls.

Cagney and Lacey spotted a fire surround, a TV and some patio furniture being delivered from a hospice van, before Lacey left to go back to real life, leaving just one man to watch the house for just one more day before real life would kick in again.

I had a nice dinner with the family and told the story so far before heading back to the hotel where I had drinks with my Cousin’s sons, who turned out to be excellent company and I told the story again over lots of gin until they threw us out of the bar.

Tuesday was the day of the funeral and I went to bed and again slept badly.

Tyrsday

Is one of the many old names for Tuesday, I’m going to let you look up the god Tyr for yourself, but it’s appropriate, I promise.

I went to my Aunt’s house, it’s in a stunning location and had a cup of tea before driving to the funeral.

I had a chance to catch up with a few more relatives and was quite relaxed on the way as it was still morning and IF anything was going to happen at the house, it’d be PM.

My Dad had arrived first and he looked dreadful, gaunt and drained and it’s clear that losing his sister and possibly his brother was eating him alive.

I didn’t see much of him, just gave him an update that the house was still being watched and some vague reassurances that made my teeth itch to say them.

The funeral was nice, beautifully done and went without any drama.

He left to go home and I went back to the house for another cup of tea.

While I was there I spoke to my Dad’s cousin who walked up to me, gave me a hug and said ‘You’re the Investigator’.

I may have blushed.

She told me that she and her sister had also lost touch, confirming that my Uncle was indeed completely isolated.

And then at 13:15 – it all changed.

The Last Detective

Followed a taxi from my Uncle’s house to Leyburn and watched them wander around for a while before Susan went to a hairdresser and my Uncle wandered off and was lost to sight.

A few minutes later, he found my Uncle in a cafe, managed to get a photo of him and then actually struck up a conversation with him.

He’s written a report for me on the conversation, there’s no standout admission that he’s being abused, but the transcript verifies everything that we thought and more.

Much More.

I told my Dad about this yesterday and I could hear the pain dropping away for a few seconds before realisation kicked in that the situation really is bad.

But…. I now have the report and after sobbing my heart out for a few minutes, I sent it to Leyburn Police and North Yorkshire Social Services (they knew that it was coming) .

It’s heartbreaking stuff and I think that it’s going to make my Dad cry or scream when I read it to him later, but it’s evidence that nobody else has managed to get, an interview that nobody else has managed to get and it’s going to change everything.

A Few Good Men

This isn’t over by a long way, I think it may have to go to the Court of Protection, but I’ve already done the paperwork. I can see some some of light ahead now.

I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in a few weeks and sad that the system can’t quite fit together despite a lot of good people.

But…

I have no words for my friends right now, they have my loyalty until the day I die and I can never repay them.

2020 update.

One of these men is the awesome Geoff Turner – a police diver and armed response veteran.

Self-effacing and one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. I’m proud to be his friend.

Buy his book if you can. It’s a cracking read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Flight-Geoff-Turner-ebook/dp/B08KSH4WG2

To Be Continued

 

 

Breakdown

Featured

Yesterdays

Ok, if you haven’t read True Detective and Chinatown I’ll recap.

My Uncle and his wife went missing and all contact was lost.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down ‘Sharon’s’ family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Sharon has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

And so we move on.

You can’t put your arms around a memory

Deep down, I already know how this ends.

And it doesn’t end well for anybody.

Especially Me.

But I’ll play the game out to the bitter end, knowing that the right thing to do is also painful, fraught with anguish and may break the people I’m trying to save.

Maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see in a month or two.

Patience

I got the funeral date from my Dad last week and also spoke to my cousin who’s making all the arrangements and tried to explain how things were. It wasn’t easy.

My Dad is quite despondent about all this, I think that he thinks that he’ll never see his brother again, I’m determined that he will, but it may not be soon.

I made all the right noises to my dad and left a message for the assigned Social Services worker with all the details and a request to:

  • Let My Uncle know the funeral date
  • That I would pick him up from the Black Bull next Sunday, 3rd June and that we would then drive to Norfolk.

I’m two months into a new job and strike action in France and issues in Colombia along with a twelve hour journey into London and back for meetings kept me busy for a few days so I didn’t chase until Thursday.

When I finally had a conversation with the Case Worker.

It wasn’t good.

Double Talking Jive

First the good news, Healthcare staff were going into the house a few times a week and some rubbish clearing had been done (they filled a skip up) .

The older ladies in the house are healthy and they’ve all been told not to keep the curtains closed all day.

And that’s it for the good news.

Susan is very hostile to the Social Workers and won’t allow them into the house, no mental health assessment has been done on my uncle yet and they’re taking it all slowly in case they run again..

I feel for these guys, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t but this wasn’t helping me at all.

We chatted

‘So what you’re saying is that I can’t get a message to my Uncle to tell him when the funeral is?’

‘Unfortunately no, at this stage we can’t get past the lady’

‘The one that we all reported as being a potential abuser?’

‘Yes, I’m sorry, maybe if you sent a letter…?’

‘That she would likely open and not give to my Uncle…’

‘Yes, sorry’…

We talked for a while longer about whether I should have Power of Attorney, everybody thinks I should, but – and there’s always a but…..

My Uncle would have to sign that over to me.

I hung up, depressed and angry that one woman could have this sort of power over us all.

Ain’t it Fun

The letter idea wasn’t the worst idea in the world, it was how to execute it so that I can use it as evidence if Susan didn’t play nicely.

So..

I bought a mobile phone for ‘Old People’

And a Sim

I prepaid it with £30 of credit and I programmed it up, testing it by calling my number and my Dad’s and making an incoming call to test calls both ways.

And I wrote two letters.

Here they are.. only the names and numbers have changed.

‘Dear Uncle Arthur
Your Sister’s Funeral is on Tuesday 5th June in Norfolk.
When we met, (with the policeman) you asked if I would drive you there, the answer is still Yes.
I will collect you from the Black Bull on Sunday 3 rd June at 4pm and will drive us to Norfolk.
We will stay in a hotel for two nights – I will book and pay.
I will drive you back after the funeral, so please pack enough clothes and any prescription drugs for two nights.
In the other envelope, is a mobile phone. It is yours and is fully paid for.
I have given the number to your brother, my Dad, he would very much like to speak to you again.
My Number and his number are in the phone and already programmed.

I will call you at 12PM on Monday to make sure that we can finalise the arrangments

Love’

‘Dear Uncle Arthur
This is your phone. It is fully paid for.
The Number is 0795x xxxxxx

To unlock, press and hold the # key
To turn it on, press and hold the red key
My number and My Dad’s are in the phone, press the key
below NAMES to bring them up.
MY NUMBER IS 0772 xxxxxx
Your Brother’s Number is 078 xxxxxx 
Your Brother In Law’s House Number is 0xxxxxxx

I will speak to you on Monday at 12pm

Love’

I printed them and put the phone, charger and letter into one envelope and the other letter into a different envelope, I wrote his name in huge text and then went to the next stage,

Mr Brownstone

I was never fully convinced as to whether this plan would work, but by this stage, I was thinking of move and countermove, if I did this, what would Susan do next – and what would I do after that?

So I booked a hotel for Saturday – It was the Wyvill Arms and I have to say that it was absolutely lovely, if you’re in that area, it’s money well spent. Then on Saturday morning, I took a slow, painful drive across The Pennines on a bank holiday weekend, arriving in Middleham at around 1pm.

I parked uphill from the house, took the envelopes from the car, set my phone to record a video and walked up the path.

Dust and Bones

I could see an old lady asleep in a chair in the lounge window and I put the first of my letters through the letterbox.

I couldn’t get the phone through as the charger was too big, so I left it by the door, very visible, with my Uncle’s name in large script on the envelope.

I’d been recording all this time and on a whim, I turned my phone towards the window as I walked away so that I could view it later.

The old lady may have stirred, but she was asleep again as I passed.

I got into the car and drove to Leyburn for some lunch before going to the hotel.

Welcome to The Jungle

I have a theory about Susan , I’ve talked to so many people who’ve had dealings with her and my overriding impression is one of arrogance and a sense of her own superiority.

Here’s the thing though, people who think they’re smart very often aren’t and if you use the power of the state as a weapon against other people, then don’t be surprised if it backfires.

The best thing that she actually did was to call the police on me, if I’d got access for 10 minutes, arranged the funeral and done a bit of driving, this would likely vanish into the middle distance again.

But she didn’t, she treated me like some sort of embarrassing lackey to be removed by her footmen and she now has my full attention.

Everything that I show and post is also being put into a file that I’ll be using in a week or two if things go as badly as I suspect, so the photo below is two things.

The first thing is a nice view, taken using the rather nifty OS Maps app, which puts an augmented reality overlay on the photo. Middleham is over to the right of the photo.

The second thing is a small piece of evidence (along with invoices) that I was in the area, at my own cost and that any statements I make further down the line are backed up.

DeIVdl3XUAAVYBA.jpg-large

The Garden

As I mentioned earlier, the hotel is rather splendid and a good meal, with wine, beer and a XO or two made the troubles of the day melt away before I crashed into a strange disturbed sleep with some elements of the day popping into my consciousness at odd stages.

Including…

A screenshot I’d taken from my delivery video earlier in the day, I hadn’t seen him, but he was also asleep on a chair, surrounded by clutter and looking very frail. Only he and the old lady were in the room.

I woke at 4am and just lay there and read a book until it was time for breakfast, before getting in the car and taking another quick trip to Middleham before getting back on the road again.

Right Next Door to Hell

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the thousands of words that I’ve written now, but it doesn’t matter.

My Uncle’s neighbours on both sides are absolutely lovely, genuine people who would have looked out for them as neighbours and brought them into a close-knit community of mostly retired people.

That’s never going to happen while Susan lives there.

I parked opposite the neighbour higher up the hill to my Uncle and was immediately called over and invited in for tea.

We chatted for quite a while and I can’t say enough nice things about them, working class people who saved for their retirement, living a life overlooking the Dales, with regular pub visits, walks, cheap lunches in the social centre and a weekly ‘lads’ night out for the husband.

They told me horror stories of screaming, shouting and abuse – all from Susan directed at the others in the house.

I told them that I’d tracked their history and her family and I was quietly pleased with myself when they said that a car with distinctive number plates had been present during their move and also to take them away when they disappeared at New Year. I correctly predicted the distinctive letters (it’s Susan’s brother’s initials) and they told me that they’d seen the car in Ripon.

Susan apparently treats my Uncle like a porter and drags him behind her carrying huge bags of shopping while she marches in front of him.

My new friends, no stranger to booze were shocked at the sheer volume of wine bottles that the house produces – pretty good considering that my Uncle has been teetotal all his life.

They owe money to every tradesman in town and are blacklisted by the plumber and the TV shop, not bad given that they’ve only lived there two months out of six.

I had a quick wander down the slope and rang the mobile quickly (twice) – it rang but I couldn’t hear it, so it wasn’t in the skip.

They gave me one last snippet before I left, Susan was berating my Uncle to keep something tidy ‘for the Estate Agent’..

I drove home, another five hours in the car and waited until 12pm today.

Get in The Ring

I rang the phone, the phone that I bought for my Uncle. 

It was switched off, yesterday it rang.

I’ve tried six times now, it’s switched off every time.

I don’t think he ever got it.

That’s OK though, I’ve booked a hotel for next Saturday night in town, I’ll put another letter through the door about the arrangements, I may even get a neighbour to knock and deliver it to him personally if I can.

I’ve booked two rooms for Norfolk.

I have a paper trail.

I have money and will never need a penny from my Uncle.

I have friends.

I have a plan.

Watch this space to see if I can actually get him to the funeral.

It doesn’t matter if I can’t.

I have a plan for this game, I know where every other player is on the board now and nobody can move without me knowing, so they can’t disappear again.

I have a plan.

Susan, I’m coming for you.

 

Chinatown

Featured

This is How You Remind Me

If you haven’t read True Detective

My Uncle and his wife went missing and all contact was lost.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern on Tuesday this week with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

Carry On My Wayward Son

It’s not any clearer now.

The Song Remains The Same

The whole situation is weird – strange women appearing from nowhere and co-owning a house with a vulnerable old couple.

In the absence of any updates from Social Services, it was time to look at how they’d got there. So it was time to search the web and make phone calls, lots and lots of phone calls.

The electoral roll showed Another Woman living in my Uncle’s old house – but not Susan, she didn’t appear in any searches.

The other lady had lived in two houses almost a street away from my Uncle over the past ten years and had suddenly appeared as living with them in the last electoral roll.

Alice? Alice? Who The Fuck is Alice?

Who was this woman, was she related to Susan, why was everything to do with this so difficult to track down? Web searches will only get you so far and I hit a brick wall, so I mailed the Police asking them if the older lady in the house with my Uncle was indeed ‘Ada’

Because.

Ada doesn’t have a daughter named Susan.

She has two other daughters that are the wrong age.

I got a reply from the police that said they’d look into it, but that’s really as far as I could go..

Unless…

I started making some phone calls, but where to start?

Oh yes.

Him…

Sympathy For The Devil

It must be tough being a solicitor these days, you have the whole duty of care to your client(s), Data Protection, GDPR and your reputation to think about at all times.

So this call must have been tough.

‘Hi, we met on Monday and spoke about my Uncle’

A pause.

‘Yes, what can i do for you?’

A longer pause.

‘Well, two things actually, a strange question for you and a statement that I’d like you to take in’

Another pause.

‘O.. Kaaay’ 

First, can you confirm for me that the older lady in the house is Ada Postlethwaite?’

‘It is Susan’s mother I’m not at liberty to confirm her name.’

I explained the web searches, the electoral roll and the strangeness of one person with a different name appearing at the old address. He explained that he couldn’t divulge the other lady’s name but that it.

Was

Not

Ada

I took a moment to wonder what was going on, hours and hours of searching had gone into this and it was very strange.

‘OK, thank you, here’s the second part, you were very helpful in not telling me anything the other day and I found them by 930. Sadly Susan called the Police on me and after a very long chat, I got to see my Uncle.’

A pause.

‘So what you should know, given our conversation and your thoughts on his mental state, is that he’s showing clear signs of dementia, doesn’t remember me AT ALL, in fact he thought I was my Dad, he couldn’t explain why he’d moved there, said he thought it might be a mistake came out with a load more concerning statements.

‘Where are you going with this?’

‘Nowhere, this is a heads-up as you’ve been so helpful, both I and the Police Officer who attended have opened Safeguarding cases independently and the Police and Social Services are now involved.’

Another long pause.

‘So in the interests of being open, I’m not dropping this at all and the next few weeks and months will likely see some changes. Thanks very much. Have a good day’

*CLICK*

Dark Side of The Moon

I was feeling quite stabby by this point, a whole day spent looking for a woman who may have been an error on an electoral roll.

A woman who had lived a street over previously in two separate houses..

Weird

The next step..

What could it be?

One Way Or Another

I called the estate agents in Essex and on my second call, I got through to the selling agents.

They were so helpful and remembered the case very well.

I’m not surprised.

It transpired that both Susan and my Uncle had put their property up for sale at the same time last year, with her flat – in the next town, selling months before my Uncle’s sale went through.

The estate agents were concerned enough about the proposed move to Leyburn that they asked my uncle multiple times and logged each conversation. His responses were always vaguely ‘yes’ and involved a ‘new start’ .

His wife was in hospital for months during this period and the estate agent mentioned that social services also became involved.

Data Protection (yes, that again) meant that they couldn’t tell me much more.

Except.

They could give opinions.

Susan had mental problems, in their opinion and they were concerned that this sale of the two properties and the move North would be a bad thing.

I hung up, thinking much better of estate agents than I ever did (there’s a theme developing here)

And..

Call Me

I rang Essex Social Services, in truth, this was frustrating as our old friend Data Protection became the wall that it’s supposed to be. In fairness, I could be anybody trying to get enough data to do some bad things.

So.

They couldn’t confirm or deny that a case existed.

But  – if it did it might be closed.

They said they’d call me back.

True to their word, they did and quite quickly too. But the answer was a flat NO, unless North Yorkshire called them.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Another web search and Susan was found.

She’d lived with somebody likely to be her mother- Barbara as it turns out, in a flat one town away and previously near Hereford.

The older lady is definitely her mother, she’s around 90 or so and Susan was no older than 63 or so.

This was a touch scary, a very strange woman who may not have lived alone or with others is now effectively head of an extended household.

Oh yes, people that have met her think she has mental problems.

Hanging On The Telephone

I’ve spent two days ringing North Yorkshire, I also had a couple of update calls from a neighbour of my Uncle.

They told me that Police and Social Services had visited when my Uncle and Sharon had gone out and managed to get in – and that after they had left and Susan/ my Uncle had returned, shouting was heard where Susan stated that:

I’m in charge of this house, nobody is allowed in without my say so’

Anyway, today…

Nothing Else Matters

I finally got a call from Social Services and the Police, all of them round a single phone. They told me that a team has been put together, they have another meeting on Monday to formulate a plan and that they are returning to the house today.

I asked that they keep in touch and that they find a way for me to arrange the funeral (still no date) through them and NOT Susan.

So:

All good.

Except:

All Along The Watchtower

They knew NOTHING of what I’d learned, no previous Social Services contact, the previous house, NOTHING.

I spent twenty minutes telling them things and we killed the call.

The system isn’t right, it can’t be.

But…

The support I’ve had from Twitter (three people in particular, you know who you are), the decency of the police, social services and estate agents has given me a new faith in people and I can give my Dad updates that don’t hurt as much as they might.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears in Rain

I’ve seen things that (some of) you people wouldn’t believe. I’ve seen the sun rise in Sydney and set on the mountains of British Columbia.

I’ve watched dolphins play and baby turtles make their first steps into the Indian Ocean.

I’ve swum in an offshoot of the Amazon and willingly jumped out of planes.

I’ve watched eagles fly overhead in the middle of a city and watched bears from the safety of horseback.

I’ve had trials for a national sporting team, fought in bouts in three fighting disciplines and written a book and graphic novel.

I’ve been to mountain tops and deep caverns, rooftop champagne bars and cellar dives.

And it’s still not enough.

I’ve swum in the sea during a monsoon and dared the gods to kill me while the lightning flashed across the sky.

I’ve visited ancient temples, gone drinking with a god and seen the modern embodiment of Blade Runner in the stormy skies of Kuala Lumpur.

I’ve been on more flights than I can remember and told an Indian Army sergeant to fuck off at the very door of a plane back to London.

I’ve debauched my way across the world and had times and experiences that I couldn’t imagine as a working class kid growing up in Hackney.

And it’s still not enough.

I’ve had my heart restarted five times, watched on a monitor as a surgeon burned a tiny scar into it from within to cure a problem and had my bicep tendon reattached ( all within a year)

I’ve seen the Taj Mahal at first hand, along with Sydney Opera House, the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brandenburg Gate and walked amongst pushy tiny people in Kowloon.

I’m massively content with things at the moment, I have a lovely house, more land than I could ever have imagined, a dog that adores me and a great work/life balance.

Autumn and winter this year will be spent outside as much as possible getting my land into shape and I’ll also be working 5 days a week as normal.

And I’ve started looking for another dog so that Milo the Mountain Lion can have a friend.

And it’s still not enough.

Other people that I know of my age have started downsizing and begun their early retirement. I can’t. I won’t.

There’s so much to see and do, so many places still to visit, so many experiences to have.

This is it. It’s the only life we have. And it scares me to watch so many people allow their lives to be more and more regulated to keep us ‘safe’

It’ll all be over before you know it. Get up. Get off your knees. Enjoy life while you can. We. Are. All. Going. To. Die.

The result is predetermined. The journey is what matters.

Small Dogs

Many years ago, for two different employers, I spent a lot of time offshore (I’ve blogged about the second major stint in India a fair amount and they’re on here somewhere) .

Wherever I went – Europe, the Far East, Australia, I was always proud that I came from England. The country that gave the languages and social structures to many of these places.

I was even gladder to come home as they were never quite ‘right’ by the standards that we lived to.

Apologies for what will now be two longish recollections of India, but I’m reminded very much of them today.

India 2007, I was running an offshore finance centre and had to visit at least once a quarter. It may sound good but it isn’t. Club flights and nice hotels don’t make up for the crashing boredom and the fact that ALL the bars including hotel bars shut at 10pm in Bangalore. – and if they didn’t. Well, the cops would come in with nightsticks.

There had been a run of well reported rapes of local females working for outsourcers – in a number of incidents, they were pulled from their work-supplied bus late at night.

I visited the team to be asked what WE were going to do as a female was the last person to leave the bus that we supplied. (Yes, I know, there’s an obvious answer, but…)

So, I went to see our head of security, the gloriously named Captain Shamsheer. He was a good guy and very professional. We chatted for a while and I asked if we could supply security guards on the buses.

He stared at me for a few minutes, had a brainwave and called somebody through the door.

One of our security guards. 8 stone soaking wet. Shamsheer asked him a few questions and I watched the guard as he struggled to find answers. After a few minutes, he was dismissed.

Shamsheer looked at me again.

‘The thing is, that security guards are mostly like that. illiterate, badly trained and not fit for much else than guarding a door’.

He paused for dramatic effect.

‘If we put guards on the buses, I GUARANTEE that somebody will be raped. By a guard. I suggest that we talk to your team and tell one of them to grow up and be the last person off.’

We did this – nothing ever happened but the team were happy that we’d taken it seriously

India 2008

The worst trip I ever did. I went out there to sack somebody who was on the equivalent of £250,000 a year – IN 2007. This meant that I had to stay for an extended period and cover part of his job while we recruited. (He left of his own accord when I presented evidence if his massive stupidity and gross misconduct on my PC screen to him)

It’s fair to say that it wasn’t a great trip and I had to fly back via Mumbai. So an internal flight then all the drama at the airport that came with flying out of India. It went like this, not a word is a lie.

Airport – outside the doors. Security Guard.

‘Ticket plis’

This was a new one on me and I scrabbled around for my ticket, accidentally giving him the outbound one. He scrutinised it carefully, looking at it from all angles, including upside down. Then he smiled and gave it back to me. Happy with my valid (outbound from the UK ticket).

Once inside, it was time to put the luggage through an x-ray and have it sealed. Only a few questions and the complete emptying of one bag. Not bad at all.

Then to passport control, just me and my backpack.

Passport control was fine, professional and with the requisite tech to validate your passport. Lovely

Two steps beyond that, an apparent teenager in a leather jacket on a chair, demanding to see my passport and ticket again. Hey ho.

Ten yards later. The gates to check for metal etc. They didn’t work, so you had to stand on a box and have a wand waved around at you. Ho Hum.

Ten yards later, a ticket and baggage check. Sigh

Thirty yards later, stand on a box and have a wand waved. Ticket check.

Ten yards later. Ticket AND Passport check. Thank Fuck the bar is next.

BA Club Lounge. Too full for entry – delayed flights. Fine

BA First Lounge – the same, people had the same idea as me.

Never mind. I knew of a third lounge open to all airlines. A casual saunter down to keep the rage at bay, wander in, show my ticket and sit down – you can’t get your own beer obviously,

And then.

‘Sorry sir, you have to go to the BA lounge.’

‘Can’t’

‘But you have a BA Ticket’

‘Yes. The lounges are too full, they’re not allowing anybody in’

‘You can’t come in here’

“Why?’

‘Er this isn’t for BA Passengers.’

At this point, I should probably mention that a lounge that could take sixty people was empty.

‘Who IS it for then? It says ALL airlines on the door?’

‘Er’

At this point I walked to the fridge and got a beer and just ignored him.

Ten minutes later, a splendid Indian Moustache.

‘Sir I am the manager, you aren’t allowed in here’

Sigh

‘Right, here’s my club BA ticket, I suggest that you call them and make space for me or I’m not leaving. I also refuse to talk to you or any of your team any further, if you’re that bothered, call the General Manager and HE can call security’

‘OK sir, you can stay on this occasion’

*drinks beer*

The time came to leave the lounge and I gave the lad a large tip, it wasn’t his fault that his whole structure was ridiculous.

To the Gate. YAY

Passport check, ticket check, baggage check, all is right with teh world.

Time to board

Walk through the door.

Luggage check again. They’re taking the piss now/

Wand Check again. On the ramp to the plane.

Another luggage and ticket check. Never mind there’s the plane and booze. I can see the stewardess.

And then.

And then.

A soldier appears, couple of stripes on his arm, sidearm, baton.

‘Passport. Ticket.’

He holds his hand out.

I have my foot inside the plane.

I smile sweetly, lean in and say. ‘FUCK OFF’ and then very quickly to the smiling stewardess ‘ I am in international airspace now right?’

‘Yes sir, champagne or juice?’

It was booze obviously and I ended a very grim trip by getting drunk for thirteen hours.

That’s it. Anecdotes over.

What has this got to do with today?

Sadly, it’s a lot. One of the things that I was always proudest of when abroad was our openness and freedom. We could go where we liked, pretty much say and do what we liked and our pubs and bars were open when we wanted with no curfews or dubious ‘rules’ applied.

I went shopping this morning at 7am, the (huge) supermarket was empty, it has wide aisles and loads of space. And yet, a jumped up man-baby in a mask and hi-viz took delight in telling an octogenarian couple that one of them had to go back to the car. ‘It’s the RULES’.

He actually enjoyed it. I could see it from where I was, that tiny bit of power to a man who may not have had it before had turned him into a third-world box-ticker.

It’s the rules, it’s the job, we’re keeping people safe by sending them to a dark, wet and cold car park.

I was ashamed of what I saw and made sure that he heard me call him a pathetic cunt as I walked past, knowing that he somehow would ignore THAT breach of rules and etiquette, possibly because I’m not over 80 yet and I was wearing my most friendly mask.

We need to start looking carefully at ourselves and how we let the rules be enforced around us. I’ve never been a tinfoil hat wearer or an alarmist. But another year of this and we may as well be India, because we won’t be England anymore.

True Detective

Spoiler Alert

This story is nearly over, my uncle died peacefully in a care home. We buried him with dignity and surrounded by love.

His wife is still in the care home, I saw her today and told her that in a few weeks, she’ll have access to roughly £130,000. I also gave her Christmas cards and presents and a particularly lovely calendar that I’ve had made of Milo.

She loves dogs and, in truth, the money doesn’t mean anything to her but it’s way better than the way that this story was MEANT to play out.

I’m publishing this whole series again.

This time, the perpetrators will be named, good people will remain anonymous.

Come for me if you like, Susan, Ian and co.

I’d love it.

Let’s go back to 2018.

Welcome

Are you sitting comfortably? I have a story to tell.

It’s only a few days old and it’s still developing.

Every single word is true, I wish that they weren’t, just some names have been changed for now.

My Uncle

Is four years older than my dad and is the oldest of three siblings, followed by his sister and then my Dad. He’s one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. In truth he’s a simple soul who has lived a life free of complications for 83 of his 84 years.

He married his best friend’s widow, as it was ‘the right thing to do’ and they’ve been married for well over 50 years. I used to see a lot of him as a kid as he was a lorry driver who did regular runs to the coast and the Anglian countryside and he’d take me along as a treat and a day out.

He bought my Nan’s house after my Grandad died and lived there until he retired. The house was in Leytonstone, so he sold it for a reasonable profit and moved to a small town near Clacton in Essex.

Although we’re not a massively close family, my Dad would call him once a week or so, just to catch up and make sure that all was well. Occasionally one of my brothers would drop in to see him on the way to another town on the coast.

A Strange Event

That meant little at the time occurred when my Brother dropped in and found that my uncle had gone out to give ‘two women a lift somewhere’. My Aunt wasn’t sure when he was due back as he’d been gone for two weeks.

This was roughly 18 months ago in 2016.

Dropping off the Radar

Around 8 months ago, my Uncle stopped answering his phone, my dad left a series of messages until the system stopped answering. After a few weeks of this, we made physical contact and he called my Dad to say that the answerphone had filled up.

Then he disappeared. No phone calls, nothing.

An Empty House

Another visit found that the house was empty, with mail piling up and a ‘for sale’ sign outside. There was no forwarding address and he had no mobile phone.

He was gone – so was his wife and another person who had appeared on the electoral role that year. Nobody in the family had ever heard of her, but a search has since revealed that she’d lived in two houses in the same town previously – at some point with her husband and then ‘alone’.

And that was it for a while.

Web searches showed nothing – no variations of a search helped at all.

Follow the Money

My Uncle’s house was sold in December 2017 and that enabled to make initial contact with his solicitor, who confirmed that my uncle was alive and that he would ask him to get in touch.

but nothing changed until last week.

My Aunt, their sister died in hospital on Wednesday night and I told my Dad that I’d drive him to the funeral as it’s around a 100 miles from where he lives.

Funeral Arrangements

I drove to see my Dad on Sunday this week (the 13th of May) to check that he was OK and to see if there was any news about the funeral.

We chatted for a while and it was clear that he was worried about whether my Uncle would attend. He’d still not managed to talk to him, but the solicitor had promised to go and see him personally and ask him to call. My Dad was beginning to believe that my Uncle had no interest at all and was both angry and upset. I took the Solicitor’s number and tracked it to Leyburn in North Yorkshire, a move of over 270 miles for a man of 84, who as far as we knew had never been to that area, even on holiday.

I said that I’d try to track my Uncle down, gave my Dad a hug and drove home.

An Unexpected Set of Events

Three hours later, my phone rang as I pulled onto the drive, it was my Dad and he was very concerned. My Uncle had finally called (from an unknown mobile number) and came out with a long rambling story.

In summary though:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad – by post – at some point.

I took the mobile number and rang it.

An old lady answered it – I didn’t recognise her voice, but asked to speak to my Uncle, who was apparently in the garden.

She called for him five or six times and I could hear another, younger, sharper voice demanding to know who was on the call and took the phone from her.

I asked her name and she replied that it was Susan Auckland.

I asked to speak to my Uncle and here’s the conversation.

‘He’s too busy in the garden to speak to you’.

‘OK, can you let me know the address there please?’

No, I’m too busy right now’.

‘You don’t want to give me your address?’

No, I’m too busy, we told your father that we will write to him’.

‘I’m sorry, but we don’t know when the funeral will be and that doesn’t help us at all’.

‘Well, I’m too busy to talk to you and we will have to get back to you’

‘You know that this sounds strange now? If you won’t give me the address. I’ll have to contact the Police as I’m now concerned about this’.

I don’t appreciate being threatened like this’.

‘Sadly, it’s not a threat, just a next step’

*CLICK*

Thirty minutes later, my Dad rang to say that Susan had called and stated that we could pick my Uncle up from the Black Bull if he wanted to go to the funeral and that neither she nor my Aunt appreciated visitors. He then told her to Fuck Off and she hung up.

That was it really, I had to commit to my Dad that I’d go to Leyburn and find my Uncle.

The Search Begins

The Black Bull isn’t in Leyburn, Susan had narrowed the search down to a much smaller town called Middleham.

I packed a bag in case I had to stay for a few days, packed my work laptop and checked out hotel availability just in case..

I then sent a text to Susan. Something about this whole thing was worrying me and going formal seemed best.

This is the text word for word.

Good evening, following my call earlier, please furnish me with details of my uncle’s property by return text. If this does not occur, I will be at Leyburn Police station by 830 am tomorrow to ask for their assistance. Thanks in advance.

I had a quick meal, sat and brooded over a gin and went to bed, setting an alarm for 4am.

SatNavs are SkyNet’s Advance Guard

Let’s be clear, SatNavs want to kill us all. I programmed in Leyburn and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a 10 mile shorter journey than Google Maps had said.

This might be because of this…

30 miles of narrow, winding, blind bends and steep inclines. Straight into the rising sun, making me half blind for a lot of the journey and terrified for the best part of an hour.

I’ve never had a more stressful drive in my life.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 14.18.44

Anyway

I arrived in Leyburn just after 8am and managed to find a small cafe for breakfast. I’d decided to go to the Solicitor’s office first and see if he’d be willing to help. Breakfast was a good idea and I was nicely calm again after bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding and tea..

And at 845, I wandered into the solicitor’s office. I’d prepared for the day by wearing a nice blue suit, with a tasteful and low key slightly pink shirt and had a stack of business cards with me.

Conversational Chess

Inside the office, I saw a set of larger private offices and caught the eye of the gentleman in the office nearest me.

‘Can I help you?’

‘I’m looking for Mr Smith’

‘Ah, there’s two of us, I’m John Smith’.

‘It’s you I’m looking for, my name is Small ThunderDog’ – he raised his eyebrows quizzically. ‘No, I’m his son, I understand that he’s been in contact with you, can we chat?’

He waved me into his office and closed the door.

I started by raising my concerns regarding my Uncle’s wellbeing following the calls the night before and my main concern that he didn’t even know where he lived.

Well, I spoke to him last week and he’s up to date on current affairs, Brexit and the Government, but if you were to ask him why he took £50 from the bank, he may not be able to tell you. But he would know if he’d split a meal bill.’

I reiterated my worry that he didn’t seem to know his address and the issues around his bank account and driving licence. He looked at me for a while before answering.

Well, I can tell you that he does know his address and that his bank accounts aren’t frozen, although he probably has lost his licence – you’re aware of what he did for a living?’

‘Yes, Lorry Driver, I used to go on trips with him, the issue is that I need to make sure that he’s OK, I’m very worried that if he does know his address, why wouldn’t he let his brother know it and why would a woman that we’ve never heard of be acting as his gatekeeper and telling us that we can only pick him up from the Black Bull for his own sister’s funeral?’

‘Was that a suggestion?’

‘No, Susan stated that this was her final word on the subject to my father, you can see my concern here, that there may be coercion.’

‘She doesn’t help herself sometimes I’m afraid, but I don’t think I can give you the address, I’m sorry.’

I looked at him without speaking for a minute, letting the silence build while I thought about what he might not be saying.

‘I appreciate your position, but you have to know that I will find him today, the Black Bull is in Middleham and if he doesn’t have a car and they’re taking taxis everywhere, I’ll start with the taxi firms and work it from there, I know the house number, if I have to check every number 11 in the town, I will’.

We looked at each other.

‘Would I be correct in saying that one of your father’s sons has had a run-in with the police in the past?’

‘No, it’s two actually, but I’m not either of them’

I passed over a business card, he looked at it for a long while before answering.

‘You understand where I’m coming from? I have to check this’

I pondered the strangeness of his question and looked at him for a while again.

‘Well I think so, but you have to understand that nobody in the family is interested in whatever money he has or doesn’t have and I’m interested that you even know that detail about my brother or why it’s relevant. To be as blunt as I can here, nobody cares what he’s up to, if he’s in a weird 4 way relationship and is taking Viagra 16 hours a day…’

‘I.

Don’t.

Care.’

‘When I find him and if he tells me he’s OK and that he has no interest in the funeral or the family, then I’ll walk away and let my Dad know what the answer is.’

I sat and watched him for a while.

‘I’m sorry, but I still can’t tell you the address, however, as you stated, he is in Middleham, there is no car, they’re all very late risers and there aren’t many number 11’s in the town. In fact, the first estate is on the left hand side of the town’.

We shook hands and I drove to Middleham.

A walk in the Sunshine

I actually found the house on the first pass but couldn’t be 100% sure so parked up in town and wandered around for a while looking for other possible number 11s – none of them fit, but the town is a very pretty little place with a number of racing stables and a large equine business base.

I walked through the churchyard and smiled at a woman and made a small fuss of her dog as they walked past, eventually going back to the town and getting a coffee before driving back to the house.

Snooper

I walked up the drive and was struck by a large amount of household rubbish that more or less blocked it, along with offcuts of wood. The curtains were all closed, even though it was 10am but one of the windows had a large number of small dog figurines that I recognised from my childhood.

I’d found them. I was sure of it.

It had taken less than two hours.

I heard a voice.

Hello, are you looking for somebody?’

It was the lady from the churchyard.

A Sunny Day Becomes Slightly Darker

We chatted and she immediately confirmed that one older man and three women lived in the house but that the two older women were more or less bed-bound. She apologised but said that they were all rather strange, that they had moved in just before Christmas but had then all left in a taxi and disappeared for four months and had only been back for three weeks.

The council had been called as the food they’d been dumping in the back garden had attracted rats…

I drove back to town and did a property search while I drank yet more coffee.

Keep Following the Money

The house had been bought in December 2017 and was paid for in cash. Three people are on the deeds.

  • My Uncle
  • His Wife
  • The mysterious Susan

My Uncle sold his house for £81,000 less than the purchase price of the current house, leaving a question as to whether Petulia had contributed or he had taken £81k from his account to pay for the balance – potentially answering the question as to why his bank account may have been frozen – maybe.

I hung around until just after 11 , drove back and rang the doorbell.

Repetitive actions

No answer, I rang again.

And again.

And again. And again. And again.

And again. And again. And again.

I knocked loudly.

And again.

Still no answer.

I walked away and a voice came from the garden below.

‘Not answering?’

I shook my head.

Fancy a brew?’

I jumped at the chance and met another set of neighbours and their dog who decided that I was a potential chew toy.

Rats, Pharmacy Deliveries and Ambulance Rescue

Here’s the thing, if my Uncle had moved in the normal fashion, he couldn’t have asked for nicer neighbours, but the same story came out.

Move in at Xmas, disappearing for months and particularly scathing comments about Susan – who had called the neighbourhood a hellhole.

The rats that the other lady had mentioned had been spilling into this couple’s garden as the house in on a very steep slope, with the gardens being around 2 metres different in height. Nobody could understand why they’d moved there. Town was too far for them to walk, there are only two buses a day and there’s only one small shop.

The neighbours had spotted a pharmacy delivery service making multiple attempts to deliver over a period of weeks, delaying prescription medicines getting through.

The house was full of boxes and junk and Susan had apparently rung the vendor to complain that he hadn’t left the fridge as promised. it was behind a pile of boxes that they’d never moved.

And.

My Uncle had fallen off the edge of his garden, through the hedge into the neighbour’s garden. An ambulance was called and he had to be rescued by being lifted out with a rope. He’d dislocated his shoulder and was taken to hospital.

As with the other lady, I left my number with them and asked that they call me if they had any concerns going forward.

I then went back to the house.

Repetitive actions in a Repetitive Stylee

I rang the doorbell

No answer, I rang again.

And again.

And again. And again. And again.

And again. And again. And again.

I knocked loudly.

And again.

And again. And again. And again.

And again. And again. And again.

I rang Susan’s number – it was switched off

I tried again

and again.

And then she answered.

‘Hello is this Susan ? This is Small ThunderDog, we spoke yesterday’

‘I don’t know who you are’

‘I’m Arthur Hodge’s nephew and I’m on the doorstep, can you answer the door please?’

‘Wait there’

*CLICK*

I didn’t like the sound of that.. and so… two minutes later

Woop-woop! That’s the sound of da Police

A van pulled up and a policeman walked towards me.

I put on my best helpful face and walked out to meet him, getting my driving licence out as I walked.

‘Morning officer, here’s my details, my uncle lives in that house and I’m trying to get to see him to see if he’s OK and to discuss his sister’s funeral’

‘Over here sir, let’s have a chat, we’ve had a report from the owner that you’ve been trying to force entry – where are the others?’

I looked blankly at him.

‘I’m alone, that’s my empty car across the road, you can check if you like’

He called his control and asked for a check on me. I don’t have any sort of criminal record, so just stood there and tried to look as unthreatening as possible, that was probably wise as another van with two more policemen swooped up. ‘My’ policeman signalled them that I wasn’t a threat and they waited while he did the check.

Once he’d confirmed who I was, I then showed them my property search on my phone showing my Uncle as owner of the property. I also showed them my text to Susan from the night before saying that I would go to the police.

I explained my concerns about the two older women being bed-ridden, the rubbish, the rats and the state of things inside.

Things calmed down nicely and the two new policemen went to the door to see what they could do.

We waited and chatted.

Hello Stranger

Eventually, my Uncle appeared at the side of the house and his face lit up as he saw me, a huge, slightly confused smile on his face.

‘You’ve put on weight’ – I’m both taller and broader than my dad, but we look reasonably alike.

‘Well, I am 55 now’

55 how can that…’ – he looked confused.

‘I’m your brother’s son, we have the same name’

His son, he doesn’t have a son with that name, my sister has a son with that name, but not him I think’

His eyes were watery and a bit lost, he was so shrunken, but he’d gripped my hand and wouldn’t let go.

‘No, he does, it’s me, don’t you remember, I used to go to Cromer with you in the lorry, we used to go for breakfast at..’

‘Mrs Brown’s place, yes, I remember, but.. he doesn’t have a son with that name does he?’

I wanted to cry. There was no way that this man was fully in control of his self, his clothes were covered with bits of food and he was so very confused.

‘Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about your sister’s funeral’

‘I don’t think I’ll go, it’s er.. .’

I looked at him, he was still gripping my hand.

‘Don’t you think you should? She’s your only sister..’

‘Could you pick me up and drop me home again?’

‘Yes, of course’

Ok then, It’s a shame it’s come to this’

‘Come to what? That I had to drive for three hours to find you after you moved house and didn’t tell anybody that you’d gone? That you haven’t rung your own brother?’

Well I’m sorry that it’s come to this’

‘Why did you move here? This is such a long way from Clacton, and this house seems not quite right for you, it’s miles from anywhere.’

‘I don’t know, it might have been a mistake’

We talked for around 10 minutes, his memory was hit and miss and he was vague on a lot of things – but I agreed that I’d drive him to Norfolk for the funeral if he wanted and he slipped away from view.

A Small and Very Strange Coven

I then spoke to the policemen again, they’d moved their view a long way from 30 minutes before and were very solicitous.

But, they also told me that the three women in the house, including my aunt, who I’ve known all my life, was present through a lot of my childhood and was a guest at my wedding stated that I wasn’t allowed in the house under any circumstances and that I’d have to collect him from the pub on the day of the funeral.

An Unexpected Outcome.

The two other policemen left and ‘my’ policeman, to my surprise and gratitude, said that he had a few worries and would run them past social services, I said that I’d be raising a safeguarding concern as soon as possible. We shook hands and drove off.

I Need a DRINK..It’s only been 24 Hours So Far…

I went home, grabbed a bit of food and had a couple of beers before sinking into a strange and disturbed sleep.

A Call to The Council

To continue my run of positive things, I had a 45 minute conversation with a lovely lady from Yorkshire Council, I referenced ‘my policeman’ and the job number and that he mentioned that he might raise a case. There was nothing in the system at that point, but she was incredibly supportive and raised a safeguarding case with:

My Uncle, his wife and Barbara- (who it turns out is Susan’s mum) – as the victims

And

Susan as the perpetrator….

I emailed ‘my’ policeman to both say thanks and to let him know that a case had been opened and he may get a call.

Synchronicity, Like Wow. Just WOW Man.

Less than a minute after I sent it, the phone rang and it was ‘my’ policeman. He was calling me to tell me that he’d opened a safeguarding case directly with the local team and that they were likely to call me.

He’d done some digging in his own time, had found that there had been some earlier social services contact and had interviewed the estate agent who sold the property to find out his views.

The estate agent had confirmed that my Uncle was making noises about the house being ‘wrong’ and that he wasn’t sure why they’d bought it.

As I’d guessed, my whole conversation with my Uncle had been closely monitored and the look of joy on my Uncle’s face when he saw his ‘brother’ had convinced ‘my’ policeman that something was wrong with the whole story.

So that meant that as of yesterday morning, two separate investigations had been launched into a situation that nobody was aware of on Monday morning.

An Unexpected Update

I was at work this morning and received a call from one of the neighbours.

The Police and Social Services turned up yesterday and managed to get in while my Uncle and Susan were out.

They then called for environmental service support and a skip was delivered and boxes and rubbish removed from the house.

Today they went back, with two police cars and more social workers but couldn’t get access. There was a lot of shouting and talk of warrants.

And That’s It For Now

I don’t know what happens next – I’m waiting for a call from social services to update me, but I guess that a warrant is going to be needed. The next thing for me once I hear is to try to find out more about his finances and how the house was funded.

And

Whether he has a will and what it says.

Apart From:

This isn’t over by a long way. I don’t care about my Uncle’s money, I do care that it’s looking increasingly like he’s a victim.

The only question is how many people are involved.

It doesn’t matter, I’m taking this all the way.

A lot has happened and..

This is continued in Chinatown

Sleeping dogs

This will be a short post.

Today has been a very strange day, I received two phone calls within a minute of each other.

Milo -my little warrior, The People’s Tripe Princess had recovered from his knee surgery and was being enough of a pain for the vets to want to release him as soon as possible.

I felt a sudden burst of heart warming joy, hung up the phone and got the news almost straight away that my Uncle had died. If anybody remembers the nightmare of his disappearance, the story never really ended.

Fraud was proven but the systems don’t work and two Police cases went to Action Fraud – an organisation that makes the NHS look efficient.

But.

My Uncle died peacefully in a place that he was cared for. He’ll be buried next to his parents and the wider family will be able to grieve and recover and not be wondering what happened to him. He can rest easy knowing that he was a good man and was loved.

I’ll never be able to repay those who helped us in some truly dark days, but they know I’ll always have their back now.

Milo is happy to be home and has eaten and taken his meds- he was refusing in the kennel. The veterinary nurse said that he was immediately a different dog when I turned up.

It’s a bittersweet day, but I’ve done my best for both of them. I’ll arrange the funeral, sort finances and sleep on the floor for a few days so that I don’t have to cage Milo while he recovers.

It’s not much.

But it’s enough for now.

Deistic Dog

The dog nudged my hand away from the keyboard as I was trying to edit a work document so that it made a bit more sense. I patted his head and he nudged my hand again so that I had to look at him.

He was gazing at me steadily and seriously; his huge amber eyes unwavering as he stared.

Outside the windows, yet another storm was driving rain into the house at 50mph and I paused my work for a while.

‘What?’

‘That’s my question. What?’

‘You’re being deliberately difficult aren’t you…’

‘No. It’s just such a big question. What happens after we die ?’

I sat back and looked at him for a few moments.

‘Where did that come from? Are you worried about dying ?’ We’d been at the vet a few hours before and I wondered if that had triggered this.

‘No. I’m not worried. But I just wondered what happens when we go away. Are any of those people that have been here and then gone away dead ? ‘

‘No. What makes you think that?. I know they’re still out there as I see them online.

‘Online ? So you can’t see or hear them for real? You’re taking it on faith then ? Are we in the Matrix?’

My head was starting to hurt at this stage. He had a point. People had come and gone in our lives and as far as he was concerned, they’d ceased to exist.

‘No. We’re not in the Matrix – probably anyway. And you’re right. I have to trust that what I see online and in chats is real. And that’s why your question is so tough.’

He looked at me, I swear that his eyes are backlit sometimes .. Outside, the rain and wind got stronger and it was hard to see the tree-line.

‘Every religion has a view of what’s next and how you get there. Including Atheists who believe that there’s nothing. The problem with religion though is that it’s all tied in with behavioural controls and rule sets. I’m not sure that any of it applies to dogs.’

‘Rules?’

‘Yes. Rules. Thou shalt? Thou shalt not.. etc. ‘

‘You don’t sound convinced’

‘’No. some of it is common sense tied into the time it was written down. Not eating pork in the Middle East before they knew how to cure or had chillers was sensible- now….’

I tailed off. This was a tough conversation with anybody. With a dog though …

He was still staring at me

‘OK. But what do YOU think happens? ‘

‘I don’t know. I’m what’s called an agnostic, I’m not arrogant enough to think that I know and I’m not easily led so I can’t get on board with religion – what do you think? Do dogs have any insight?’

He grinned

‘No of course not’

He looked up at me and put his paw on my arm.

‘ I can tell you what I hope though.’

It was my turn to look at him keenly.

‘ I hope that in many years to come, I’ll fall asleep and wake up in the garden. I’ll be surrounded by my toys and all my friends will be near. Then I’ll hear the music come on and you’ll walk round the corner with one of my squeaky toys and we’ll play games while the barbecue cooks. Then all your friends will arrive and we’ll go for walks and play more games and…’

‘And when the day is over, I’ll fall asleep on your lap and then….’

He looked up at me, his huge eyes glowing .

‘And then we’ll wake up and do it all again. How does that sound?’

I smiled at him.

‘It sounds like you just started a religion. I’m in…’

Ghost Dog

The dog woke up from his dream-filled sleep just a few miles before we reached Corley Services on a trip back from Essex to visit my dad again.

It had been a pleasant trip and I’d done some more clearance of the old house and had a car full of bags of..

‘What’s that stuff in the back of the car then? There’s a lot of it and it smells….. dry.’

I smiled, smells and food were the main drivers in his life, apart from when he’d sit in the garden and obsessively watch the ponies next door for hours on end. He still hasn’t told me why.

‘It’s books, hundreds of them, I’m going to give them to a charity shop.’

His nose wrinkled in question.

‘It’s a shop that sells mostly second hand things that people donate and they use the money for good causes.’

One ear flopped back down again as he pondered this point.

‘And you’ve finished with these books?’

‘Yes I’ve read them all, some a few times and I don’t want to throw them away, I’d like somebody else to read them.’

He was silent for a while, his huge amber eyes gazing up at me me from his little bed on the seat next to me.

‘Do you think that you could teach me to read?’

I looked carefully at him, both ears were up and he looked serious.

‘ I don’t know, maybe. Trouble is that you can’t turn a page or power up a Kindle, so it won’t help a lot. Why do you want to do that?’

‘Well. First of all, I’d like to be able to look at the signs on the road and read the speed of the car, because I’m not sure that you can actually read those things yourself.’

I smiled, he had me there. ‘And what else?’

‘What else? Everything else. I listen to you talking on your conference calls and when we go out and I can hear the hesitation and the lies in some of those voices and I just KNOW that they haven’t understood anything. And I want to understand. I want to know the truth about things. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but……’

His nose wrinkled in the expression that I’ve come to call ‘Cartoon Dog’, a multitude of complex emotions passed across his face and I waited for him to finish.

‘But… I just want to be able to make my own mind up about things and I’m surprised at how many humans can’t or don’t. It’s scary for me because they could decide that dogs are bad just because somebody said so.’

He had a point, people were becoming easily swayed by emotional arguments that bore no logic or relationship to the real world at all.

‘I still don’t think that I can teach you to read what you want to. How about if I read to you occasionally and we can have a think about what it is that we’ve read and heard?’

Both ears were now fully up and he regarded me carefully.

‘Promise? Can we start with the little book that you take into the garden sometimes?’

‘The Hagakure? Yes I don’t see why not, it’s a sort of philosophy and instruction manual all in one. It’s probably a good place to start.’

The amber eyes glowed for a second

‘Will it help me sort those ponies out?’

And with that, he curled up and went back to sleep.

And I murmured some remembered words from the book to him while he dozed

‘The extent of one’s courage or cowardice cannot be measured in ordinary times. All is revealed when something happens.’

Demonstrative Dog

I was sitting in the garden, chilling out and quietly sipping a beer while listening to some gentle Motorhead tracks when the dog lifted his head from where he’d been sunbathing and looked intently at me. I turned the music down a bit as he ambled over next to me.

After a suitable pause for him to yawn and stretch, he finally got round to the point.

‘You know, I was quite surprised by you yesterday.’

‘Why? What did I do? Cook your steak exactly the way you like it? Keep the walking pace steady? Fill your water bowl as if I were a head waiter in a top restaurant?’

He made a dismissive motion with a paw and made a little jump to get in the chair next to me.

‘No, none of that, although the steak was pretty good I suppose. No it was the protesters, I was quite impressed that you seem to have got over your recent bout of Tourette’s and that you managed to speak to them without swearing.’

He grinned at me to show that he might be joking and continued on.

‘To tell the truth, you were very polite, you asked them a couple of questions that seemed to confuse them and you wished them luck. I thought that you didn’t have any time for those ‘Black Lives Matter’ people. Actually, I seem to remember you calling them a number of names, many of them quite profane and some that may even be illegal in some places.’

I took a couple of sips of beer while I considered my answer. I was impressed at his hearing to be honest, I’d left him on the other side of the square with a friend while I wandered over to have a chat.

‘Well, the thing is that they were quite nice really, they seem to think that they’re helping somebody or other and it’s quite a brave thing for only two people to try to do in a small town. They weren’t getting in the way and they were polite.’

He wrinkled his face in the expression that I’ve started to call ‘Cartoon Dog’, he’s got quite expressive over the past few months and it’s nice to watch the emotions dance over what was once a very closed little face.

‘I sense a ‘but’ here….’

‘But…. they’re misguided and are treating a massively complicated issue as if it’s a one sided thing that says all black people are victims, all white people apart from themselves and their allies are evil racists and that a movement with Marxist aims and shadowy backers will somehow make everything right.’

He laid his head on his paws and waited for me to continue.

‘And so, I went over to talk to them. They’d made some little placards and one of them had a list of names that presumably were victims of some injustice or other including Mark Duggan. Twice. I asked why he was on there twice with different spellings and the answer was that they had written all the names themselves. So.. a mistake. I didn’t bother asking if they knew anymore about him than his name. He had been a murder suspect himself before he was shot by the cops.’

The dog wrinkled his nose in query.

‘It was a strange story, but although I’m not always a fan of the police, I think that it was done in good faith. I also never saw anybody riot or burn down parts of their own town when the cops shot Harry Stanley for having a table leg in a carrier bag.’

He wrinkled his nose again.

‘Don’t worry about that today, the point is that bad things happen to all sorts of people. Situations get out of control and people make mistakes. But to try to make out that that the police are institutionally racist is just stupid…’

I paused for more beer while he looked at me through drowsy eyes.

‘So I asked them if they’d be putting Kriss Donald or Ross Parker on their list. They confessed that they’d never heard of them and I suspect that they’d had to google all of the names that were actually there – or take them from a list published by BLM. I asked them to google the names when they had 5 minutes and then wished them luck with their protest.’

The dog was almost asleep in the sun at this point, his paws beginning to twitch.

‘Why did you do that?’

‘Because they’re still brave for doing a small protest in a town that mostly ignored them. Because abuse won’t help and maybe they’ll be curious enough to look for some more sources than whatever they’re reading now. Because…..’

I trailed off. He was fully asleep now and chasing squirrels in his sleep. I moved quietly to the kitchen in search of more beers.

Dog Tired

I had just finished a conference call when the dog did his little trick of putting his nose under my hand and guiding it to the top of his head so that I could stroke him. He looked at me with his enormous eyes and asked a question.

‘What’s Moral Authority then?’

I was surprised at the question, it wasn’t like his normal ‘where’s dinner’ ? Why won’t you play catch with me right NOW?’ sort of thing and it was a moment or two before I realised that I’d used the phrase earlier in the week.

‘It’s a good question but it’s a bit hard to answer. Let me think for a second so that you can see what I mean by it.’

He stared at me intently, waiting for the answer to what was obviously a burning question for him.

‘Right…. you know when you have one of your very infrequent little accidents because I’m too dead to the world to hear you in the middle of the night?’

He raised a paw in assent and I continued.

‘Did you ever notice that I don’t get angry and that I just clean it up and give you a little pat to reassure you?’

He lifted the paw again and looked at me even more intently.

‘Well, I’ve had my fair share of accidents myself, including accidents in broad daylight that aren’t drink related and some even worse and more public ones when I’ve been slightly drunk.’

He cocked his head and looked at me as if to show that he understood, then asked the question anyway.

‘When you say accidents, you mean poo and vomit?’

‘Yes. Afraid so. I’ve had some embarrassing moments, but then most of us have. So that’s why I don’t get upset. It’s not your fault and I can’t blame you for an upset tummy or catching a bug…. although, you do bring some of it on yourself with that fucking lamb-bone that you keep burying and digging up.’

He grinned at me and I continued.

‘So. In this case, Moral Authority means that I don’t feel that I have a case to be upset with you for things that I’ve done. And I’ve done some bad things. I once pissed on the driver door handles of over a dozen police cars in a police car park after I’d got drunk at a wedding reception in a police station bar.’

He was now sitting and looking intently at me.

‘And now I think about it, I’ve got more of those types of incidents in my past than I really care to mention right now. I’m not ashamed of any of them but I’m not overly proud either. And some of them were very funny at the time.’

‘But the trouble is that some people want to tell us all how to live our lives and they’re very happy to tell US what to do and why we should do it. Whether it’s obeying increasingly arbitrary Lockdown rules or why WE should slavishly follow a set of laws that others seem to be exempt from.’

I paused as I was trying to keep the tone of my voice calm, he’s prone to taking me too literally sometimes and I don’t want to stress him if I can’t help it.

‘Anyway. This week has been very strange. The government has seen fit to publish new rules on the lockdown that make even less sense than before and thousands of people across the country have started marching and rioting because somebody died over 3000 miles away. To add insult to injury, politicians, the police and other useful idiots have supported this and have been taking the knee in support. ‘

His ears pricked up and pointed forward.

‘They did WHAT? Why did they do that? Has the country been conquered?’

‘Sadly, no. The Leader of the Opposition, who has kept silent about antisemitism in his own party for years despite having a Jewish wife posted a picture of himself doing it. Loads of others have and they’ve effectively lost the right to lead us. The government has either got a very cunning plan or they’ve fucked this up as statues are being torn down, TV shows are being deleted from memory like some Stalinist purge and they’ve let that ridiculous dwarf Khan board Churchill’s statue up in case some mental defectives try to tear it down.’

He sighed and laid his head on his paws.

‘So, this Moral Authority thing?’

‘I decided a few weeks ago that I would take whatever risks that I wanted to in order to have some form of real life again. This has just pushed it further and accelerated it. These people have lost the authority to govern. The law applies or it doesn’t.’

‘It doesn’t make a lot of difference to us living here or the quiet lifestyle that we have, but it just means that we’ll see who we want to. Go out. Have friends round, have fun.’

He raised an ear.

‘We can always call it a protest. DOGLIVESMATTER Motherfuckers’

I nodded and dialled into my next conference call.

Road Dogs

The dog looked up from his basket in the car where he’d been sleeping next to me . ‘Are we there yet?’ He asked.

I was surprised, his timing was pretty close, we had about twenty minutes left to drive before we would get home.

‘I see you’re still listening to that German stuff, the whistle at the start of the track woke me up…. Again.’

His left ear raised up accusingly for a second before flopping back down again into the usual position just above his eye.

‘Yes, don’t you like it?’

‘It’s ok. All a bit vague sometimes though, what’s all that shark business about?’

I was surprised again. I didn’t know that he understood any German and pondered my reply for a moment.

‘Anyway. While you’re thinking about that, do you want to talk about the last few days ?’

His ear raised itself up again as he asked and I understood that this was the real question here.

‘OK, what do you want to know? ‘

‘All of it. Why did we leave? Where did you disappear to for half a day? Are we going home now? Will there be sossidges?’

I thought about this for a second while he hummed along to the chorus of ‘Engel’ , baring his teeth to the line ‘Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein’

There was no chance of that for either of us, so I grinned back at him and started speaking.

‘Well, we’ve been locked down for quite some time now and I’ve been looking at the stats and judging those carefully against my own interpretation of where we are… and I decided a week or so ago that it was time to see my Dad again.’

The ear lifted in silent question, so I carried on.

‘You’ve never seen him, but I may take you next time, not that you’ll see much either. Anyway, he lives 230 miles from me and I last saw him a week before the Lockdown kicked in and he hasn’t left his little flat since. We’re lucky that we can still go and hide out in the other house so that we didn’t have to do it all in one day.’

His eyebrows lifted. Three hours in the car was more than enough for him, even with my tuneful singing-along to Germanic rock music. ‘So why did you go? Is he sick ? Are you sick? Why? Why now? ‘

I sighed.

‘No. No. Nobody’s sick, not me. Not him. Nobody. It was just time to do it.’

‘Did you miss him that much then? ‘

‘No. Not really. I speak to him quite often. He just hasn’t been able to leave his flat for sixty days and there’s not much of a view for him. Or his cat.

Both ears pricked up now and he looked around quickly… I smiled at his reaction and carried on driving through the roadworks on the M6

‘There’s no cat here. Idiot. My dad has a cat that never manages to get out of the flat either, although i suspect she’d like to, I can’t imagine that it’s much fun being locked up with him 24×7.’

His left ear flopped again and he rested his head onto the centre console and gazed up at me with his huge amber eyes. I smiled fondly at him and stroked one of his velvety ears as I continued driving.

‘Anyway. I made the judgement call around a week ago that we’d make the trip and that I’d accept the risks for me.’

‘Risks?’ The ear raised briefly again and he continued looking up at me.

‘Risks of me catching the virus – that was acceptable, there was no risk to my dad as I stood outside his window. Risks of having an accident, risks of getting stuck if lockdown increased. That sort of thing… And… all of those risks were acceptable.’

‘If he’d been ill, would you still have gone?’

‘Yes… Much earlier, there’s the rules and there’s what’s right. The rules change all the time and it’s for each of us to work out what we can live with and more importantly what we can’t. I wanted to go this time to show my Dad that we’re still out here and we care. Everybody else has to make their own minds up, but they’re not my concern. We do what’s right for us in the moments that we have and we live with those decisions and their outcomes – for good or bad. We can’t go back or second guess. We keep moving forward…’

The ear lifted again.

‘Sort of like that German shark then?’

I smiled

He dozed off again, leaving me to concentrate on driving.

Fin