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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Line

We’re living in strange and unprecedented times and it’s genuinely hard to keep up with the state of the country and the wider world beyond. If you’re above a certain age (and living in the UK) the standards that we were brought up to believe were good for all of us have been eroded to such an extent that it feels like a different country altogether.

The Police, once the people that you could rely on to be there when you needed help, have become politicised to such a degree that they’re unrecognisable. Misgender somebody or go for a walk outside during ‘lockdown’ and you’re in deep trouble. Pull down statues, vandalise property, block roads or access to foodstuffs and it’s er.. more or less ok.

Don’t get burgled or robbed in broad daylight, they’ve better things to do.

The sainted NHS, saviour to our nation is still not allowing visitors to sick relatives in some locations and we’re in for another winter of doom, despite around 40% of our GDP being paid to it.

Male sex offenders are being treated as women – because they say that they are. Eddie Izzard is running as a candidate to be a Labour MP – as a woman. He’s a biological man who hasn’t undergone surgery or any transition activities at all, but if you say this, you’re a bigot.

Child Molesters are openly supporting Transgender pressure groups and grown men are dressing as women and displaying their genitalia to children, with no penalties. They get applause instead.

Government is now just a collection of people who want to tell US what to do rather than being servants of the people.

A multi-millionaire who screwed the public finances, triggered a leadership election for the sitting Prime Minister and lost a membership vote is likely to be Prime Minister today without undergoing any form of public vote apart from as a local candidate in the 2019 General Election.

He’s done this with collusion from the media and fellow travellers from his own party, despite being fined for the same issues that killed off his previous boss

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/rishi-sunak-carrie-johnson-metropolitan-police-house-of-commons-downing-street-b1002735.html

The war in Ukraine drains our finances and is threatening to bring in power-cuts for our population later this year – horribly similar to the lockdown rules.

Inflation is rising and taxpayers are being squeezed – again, while thousands of illegal immigrants flood our shores every week and are then given four-star accommodation and benefits – at our cost.

Let’s not even mention Covid-passes, Digital ID and all that entails, we narrowly squeaked through last year and they’ve had to pause.

These things may or may not be related, I’m suspicious enough of our government that I took steps to reduce my dependency on the grid last year, a few hours of power-cuts – even daily won’t hurt at all.

But it will close pubs, we’ll lose more pubs and restaurants, local shops and businesses as they won’t be able to continue to even break even. Horribly similar to lockdown.

What are we supposed to do in the face of this relentless assault on our liberties, freedoms and way of life?

Who knows.

I do know that the answer isn’t to demand the othering of people, I want the idiot protesters dealt with under existing laws, not to have new laws removing the right to protest.

For Izzard and his ilk, laugh at them, they hate it.

For ‘our’ government, no idea, they hold the cards today but it’s a very tenuous grip on power and could be removed in days if enough of us wanted that – except we’d need a better alternative.

So.. What to do?

Stand strong, stick to those values, I’ve let vulnerable neighbours know that I’ll have power when we lose it and that they’ll be welcome.

Keep talking to people, meet up with friends and relatives in person when you can; give something to those in need if you can, share ideas, push back at the frankly ludicrous agendas being forced upon us.

Hold your line if you think you’re doing the right thing.

Do what you think is right, not what others tell you.

Act like you’re in the middle of an invisible war.

Because we may be.

Netflix One-Off Special

Background:

It’s early June 1994, life as we know it was much different, the weather was massively variable, a rail strike was hurting the country and Fred West was blissfully unaware that he’d soon be huge news.

Mobile phones were in their infancy and in many ways; life was simpler.

Not for a section of the Norfolk Broads though.

Characters:

The Groom – (TG)

The Best Man, an architect and otherwise intelligent man in his late 30s – referred to here as That Fucking Idiot (TFI)

The Biochemist (Bio)

The Accountant (TA)

The IT Specialist (IS)

The Builder (the wealthy one, also the drunk – TD)

The Place

The Norfolk Broads, particularly Wroxham and the surrounding area

The Venue

A fifty foot long Broads Boat hired by TFI from Blake’s Boatyard, at the time a smallish independent operator. they’ve long since disappeared but the boat looked a bit like this.

Scene – Day One: Early Morning

A group of six men in their 30s meet at roadside for a minibus to take them to Norfolk, they’re all fairly well dressed, all have a small bag for extra clothes and are standing around a stack of beer that’s nearly six feet tall. There’s also a portable stereo that is already playing a mix of music that seems designed to annoy others.

TFI – ‘are we all ready for this, got all your stuff?’ He leers at The Groom

TG – ‘just remember the rules, try to tie me to anything or shave anything and I’ll murder you and dump your body overboard’

Everybody looks at their feet.

Four hours later – The Boat.

Boatyard Guide – “Right, are we all listening, you need to be really careful, this is a big boat and some of the sidings are covered in iron. You need to make sure that you undo the awning if you’re taking the roof back. This is how you go forward – and backwards, keep the speed low and steady, don’t do any sudden turns. Make sure you take the key out if you leave the boat.

Everybody – nods and ‘yeah, OK’

Boatyard Guide – ‘OK – let’s go’

He executes a flawless and very fast 180 degree turn and jumps off the boat.

TFI takes the wheel, beers are opened and everybody dumps their bags in the cabins while ‘Right Next Door To Hell’ blares from the CD Player.

Ten Minutes Later

TFI to The Groom – ‘Let’s take the roof back!”

TG- ‘Don’t forget to….’

CRACKKK

TFI – ‘What was that?’

TG – ‘That was the awning ripping out and flying into the river, you stupid cunt’

TFI – ‘What?’

TG- ‘That’s our deposit gone and you’d better hope that it doesn’t fucking rain now’ – he takes a long drink of beer while the others inspect the broken woodwork.

One Hour Later

The boat is moored at a pub, our heroic band are spending money as fast as possible while bemoaning the fact that the pub is too quiet.

Another Hour Later

Everybody is back on board and TFI takes the wheel. He guns the throttle into reverse and slams the boat into a siding. Ignoring the crash, he spins the wheel and embeds the iron siding into he boat a few feet above the waterline – there’s now an eight foot gash in the skin of the boat.

Everybody – ‘whatthefuckyoustupidcuntwhatthefuckinghellTWATCUNTyoufuckingidiot’

TFI -‘Well that was how he did it in the boatyard’

TG ‘Why don’t you go and ask him to do some draughtsmanship for you for fucks sake. You know that we now owe THEM money don’t you?’ Another long drink is taken and a quiet sob can be heard.

Two Hours Later

Two of the cases of beer are now empty and the boat has now taken on the air of a group of Death Row Prisoners trying to enjoy their last day.

IS -‘Hang on there’s a boat full of women there, they’re waving at us… OI, TFI, get us closer’

The two boats draw alongside and IS, TA and TG jump across with two cases of beer. The music on our boat gets louder and people frequently jump between boats. It’s agreed to moor up in Wroxham and find a pub.

4PM Day one.

Both boats are moored up, there are no other boats nearby and everybody is well on the way to being ever so slightly drunk.

11PM Day One. Wroxham

Everybody goes back to the boats for a party having offended a large number of innocent tourists trying to have a nice time in the pub. The circle around the group becoming wider and wider as the level of offensiveness rises.

1AM Day TwoOur Boat

The girls have returned back to their boat along with IS who’s on a promise, TD is asleep on the jetty, Bio is wandering around aimlessly and TA is ranting at The Groom about the lack of reliability of TFI. ‘He’s a fucking menace and I’d like to drag him behind the boat tomorrow, it’ll be safer for all of us and… I CAN’T GET IN THE FUCKING CABINS…. WHERE IS HE?WHERE’STHE FUCKING KEY………’

They jump onto the Jetty and TA is still shouting -‘THERE’S A LIGHT ON IN THAT FUCKING CABIN I’M GOING TO…….

There’s a muffled splash and TA appears coughing and struggling as he’s walked off the jetty into the river in the dark.

TG is doubled over laughing hysterically – TA has to be rescued by BIO and TG is still laughing as he coughs his way aboard, drenched and filthy. Luckily TG had a huge sweater on board and TA is able to strip down to boxers and have a warm top as they trudge to the girls’ boat.

1:15 AM Day Two – The Girls’ Boat

Girl One – ‘Oh thank god you’re here, can you take him back with you? We’ll make you a bacon sandwich each..’

TFI -‘Hello’

Everybody – ‘YoulockedusCUNTofheboatdCUNTyoufuckingidiotCUNTwherearethekeys?’

1:45 AM Day Two

Everybody but IS is back on the boat and soon asleep.

7AM Day Two

The group gather on the deck and look at their sad little boat, something hideous has been spilled on the deck and has left a deep stain, there’s bottles and cans everywhere and the quiet little berth that was empty at 4PM the day before is absolutely surrounded by families on boats .

They’re also outside a Police Station.

Bio makes a cup of tea for everybody while TFI decides that he’s going to play his new AC/DC album again – or more to the point, he plays ‘Heatseeker’ Again and again. Bellowing out the word Heatseeker occasionally. By this point, it’s not clear if he just enjoys it, is having a mental breakdown, is still drunk or is just winding up. TG thinks it’s a combination of the last two.

IS boards the boat to thunderous applause and the group are now becoming aware of the crowd of boats around them. They’re also surprised at the goodwill they’re being extended, one boat is offering more bacon sandwiches which are gratefully accepted and there seems to be nobody upset at last night’s noise. One older couple said it made a nice change and that they were listening to the music while having a bottle of wine on deck..

9AM Day Two The group decide to brave Wroxham to find a proper breakfast and are soon fascinated by this unusual little backwater.

And that nearly everything is called Roys.

There’s a general store and a toy store amongst others.

And rather bewilderingly, Miss Roy.

It’s all a bit too much for Bio, who wants to ask random people in the street if they’re called Roy. The group drag him into a cafe and over breakfast, they discuss the day.

The Groom will call his dad (from a phone box) and arrange for him and a few other people who couldn’t make the whole trip and tell them to meet at…

A discussion is held.

Nobody can be bothered to move, so as long as the group aren’t barred, they’ll take residence in the pub again for the day.

TA and Bio spot a huge mannequin of a butcher and pose for photos with it, annoying the actual butcher in the shop as they take pose after pose. They giggle to each other as they walk away.

10AM Day Two

The group enter the pub sheepishly, not entirely sure if they’re welcome and are greeted by the landlady.

‘Morning lads, we’ve restocked with bottled beer after last night, want a drink on the house?’

TG – ‘Yes please, six Becks please.. Listen, we were a bit, we loud last night, sorry if there were any issues.’

Landlady – ‘You spent more last night than every other person in the pub combined – even if you double their spend. Stay as long as you like, just don’t start a fight or burn the place down and we’re good’

Grinning, she walks away.

TA – ‘She’s right, we need to top the whip up, we spent nearly £500 yesterday’

Everybody tops the fund up and the drinking begins again.

12PM Day Two – The girls pop in for a drink and to say goodbye and good luck and they leave the pub in a cloud of giggles into the sunlight.

The Jukebox is topped up with enough money to ensure that nobody else will get a choice in music until evening and the group settle in for a gentle afternoon of drinking, talking and playing word-based drinking games.

One goes like this.

A word is said …..

‘The’ perhaps.

The next person has to add a word “Giraffe”and the next person has to add a word as well as saying the previous words.

The Giraffe went out into Soho to buy the monkey from the bar one of those rare orchids that can not be seen unless you watch a film with dark clothes and a cup of cold piss from a zebra – fuck what was the next word?’

2PM Day Two -The game comes to a shuddering halt when TFI unwittingly brings the group close to hysteria.

‘Outer. Space. Outer Space is. Outer Space is Dodgy’

The group set to drinking in earnest and at:

3:30 PM Day Two –

The Groom’s dad and a few others, including a designated driver walk in. Ironic cheers and shouts of ‘hello you old cunt’ can be heard. He sits with the group as beers are ordered and looks around nervously at the people already giving dirty looks to the group.

Dad – ‘christ, keep it down a bit, you’ll get us all barred’

Everybody – loud laughter, cries of ‘fuck off’

Dad – ‘I mean it, some of these people look really pissed off’

TG – in a kind and gentle voice – ‘Don’t worry Dad, we’ve been given a green light to do anything we like by the landlady as long as nobody gets hurt. We’ve already spent more today than Wiggy over there will spend in a fortnight’

Dad – looks round nervously and sees a man in a bad wig glaring back at them. – “fucksake keep it down..”

TG – ‘What for Wiggy, Wiggy can fuck off if he doesn’t like it’

The group – ‘Fuck off Wiggy’

Six grown men collapse into giggles at the horror and outrage, they’re beyond reason by this point and the newcomers realise that the only thing to do is to drink hard and fast.

Dad – ‘How’s the boat?’

TG – ‘It’s fucked, we probably own the boatyard a couple of grand and it’s still only Saturday, that’s one of the reasons that we haven’t moved – so that mad cunt’ he shrugs at TFI ‘ can’t cause any more damage’.

The afternoon progresses and at one point TA and Bio go to get more cash.

5PM Day Two

A loud commotion can be heard outside and a butcher is shouting at the sky, his mannequin seems to have decided to leave home and take up a spot on a jetty across the bridge.

TA and Bio are giggling.

7PM Day Two –

A vote is taken and it’s agreed that the now extended group will go and find some actual food. IS runs out and checks that a table at the local Indian Restaurant is available and the group walk over. Cries of ‘Heatseeker’ and ‘Wiggy’ can be heard throughout the town.

730PM Day Two – Indian Restaurant Wroxham

The group are ordering and ‘Dad’ confesses that he’s never had an Indian meal. The Manager comes over to help him choose food, while all around huge amounts of Naan Bread, Tikka, Rice, Jalfrezi, Vindaloo and Phaal are ordered, along with thirty bottles of beer to get started.

Dad – ‘What should I have?’

Manager – he has a pleasing West Country accent – “whatever you like, but I’d go for something gentle or even something with chips if you like.’

Dad – OK, I’ll probably go with something with chips, but I keep hearing them order Phaal and laughing – what is that?

Manager – leans in and whispers – ‘don’t even try it, it’ll burn your fucking arse off’ – he walks away grinning

10PM Day Two – The Groom’s Dad and others now have a two hour drive back to Essex and beery and loud farewells are said. The car drives away to cries of “Wiggy and Heatseeker’

The group go back to the pub and actually behave themselves.

1AM Day Three The Boat

Nobody has thrown up, lost any keys, fallen in the river, stolen anything or even shouted, the group go to bed and agree that tomorrow they’ll head upriver before their welcome runs out.

9AM Day Three The Pub

The Group go into the pub to say goodbye. They’re given a fond farewell and leave the bar, stealing a few souvenirs along the way, including the signs from the toilet doors.

9:30 AM Day Three The Boat

The boat is now back on the broads without incident, it’s a blisteringly hot morning and The Drunk, Keeper of the Beer makes a sad admission.

TD – ‘We’re out of beer’

TA – ‘What, how?’

TD – ‘Well, we fucking drank it all I suppose’

Bio – ‘No, what he means is, that you were supposed to fucking tell us so that we could buy more yesterday’

TD – ‘Sorry’

Bio and TA in unison – ‘Cunt’

TG – you do realise that it’s a fucking Sunday and we’ve got hours to go before we can buy some more?’

TFI -‘Let’s put some music….’

IS – leans across the CD Player, ejects the AC/DC album and skims it at a passing boat. ‘Fuck off we’re never playing that fucking track again’

11AM Day Three – Maps have been consulted and the boat is heading for a small pub with a berth and there’s a shop within half a mile.

Bio – ‘I can’t take any more of this’

He climbs onto the roof of the boat and waves at other boats on the river, having caught their attention, he strips off completely and dances completely naked for at least fifteen minutes, cupping his genitals and shouting general abuse at boats passing by.

The madness passes and he climbs back down.

Bio – ‘Where’s my clothes’

TG – ‘About a mile back I think, they were sinking when I last saw them’

Bio storms off to his cabin while the boat veers dangerously as IS is laughing too hard to steer.

The owner of a small cabin cruiser takes it upon himself to lecture the group on river safety and retreats quickly in a hail of abuse and empty bottles.

12PM Day Three Riverside Pub

TA and TG decide to be the grown ups and walk to the village shop while the rest of the group get the beers in.

TA -‘Why the fuck is TFI your best man?’

TG – ‘Well, I proposed at a black tie do for Trafalgar Day in his solicitor’s garden and he caught me unawares – and drunk too I suppose. Still his heart is in the right place, even if he is a fucking nightmare. He booked this because his girlfriend told him that it would be safer than us all flying abroad, I don’t think that it occurred to her just how badly we can fuck things up.’

TA – it was funny but why did you throw Bio’s clothes in the river?’

TG- ‘Did you see those scars on his legs?’

TA – Yeah, they look newish

TG – ‘They are, the mad cunt tried to hit me out of the blue on a night out with IS and TFI and he wouldn’t stop, so I accidentally put him through a shop window. He was lucky for a couple of reasons, I thought it was a wall behind me and a piece of glass as big as your arm missed his neck by an inch. ‘

TA – ‘Fuck me, but….’

TG – ‘I dusted the silly cunt down and we went to the pub, the landlord called the police and I told him to go and get a cab, He wandered off and by the time that the old bill turned up, IS and TFI were there and we just fronted them down as they couldn’t prove anything. Then they were all grinning and there Bio is standing behind me, covered in blood and looking stupid. When I asked him what he thought he was doing, he just told me to Fuck Off. We were lucky that we only had to pay for the window.’

12:15 PM Day Three The Broads

TG and TA walk into a tiny village store.

They gather up a mass of sausages, burgers, steak and bread. They pick up two portable BBQ units and as much beer as there is on the shelves.

TA – to Shop Owner – ‘Do you have any more beer?’

The shopkeeper goes to the store and leaves the assistant, a young lad, to start the till.

TA – ‘We’ll take all your porn too please’

The assistant blushes furiously and the shopkeeper returns with two more cases of beer.

TA and TG stagger to the nearby pub to get a beer and call a taxi, there’s no way that they can carry all they’ve bought back to the boat.

12:30 PM Day Three Village Pub

TA and TG stagger in with their load and order a couple of beers from the splendidly bewhiskered landlord who’s naturally curious as to what’s going on.

TG- ‘I’m getting married in a few weeks and we ran out of beer on the boat, so we’re moored at the pub on the river and we’ll have a BBQ later today.’

Landlord – ‘Lovely, well, if you want a drink later. I’ll be having a lock-in’

TG and TA ‘YES PLEASE’

They leave the pub after a short while and take a taxi back to the pub on the river.

1:15 PM Day Three – TG and TA are walking through the pub garden, four well dressed, obviously wealthy and local women are sitting at a table and one of them calls out.

‘Where are you going with all that?’

TG- ‘It’s my stag do, we’re having a BBQ on the boat later, you’re welcome to join us. ‘

The women exchange glances and have a quick chat, they scribble something on a piece of paper.

‘No, you’re OK. BUT. If you want, we’re having a garden party at my house, here’s the directions by water. I’m Jane by the way. Maybe see you there later.’

TA and TG smile broadly and after dumping the food and booze onto the boat walk into the pub, the remainder of the group are at a corner table. Cries of ‘Heatseeker’ and ‘Wankers can be heard.

1:45 PM Day Three Riverside Pub

IS – ‘Are you joking, we’ve all been invited to a party?’

TA and TG – ‘Yes’

IS- ‘could it be a joke?’

TG – Yeah, or a Deliverance type thing, we should have a go though.’

2:45 PM Day Three – The Boat

The group have been following the river for a while now and the prospect of this being a joke or worse seems to be becoming more real, the river has narrowed and is covered over by trees, somebody is humming ‘Duelling Banjos’ as the boat moves slowly into:

2:55 PM Day Three – The House

A private mooring outside a large house, the group walk through the gate into:

2:56 PM Day Three – The Garden

A huge garden, there are over a hundred people there, a marquee and a band is playing soft live music. The group immediately tone themselves down, separate and join the party, champagne is free-flowing and everybody relaxes. It’s a wonderful, unexpected surprise and the hosts are incredibly warm and welcoming.

4PM Day Three – The Garden

Jane to TG – ‘I hear from my dad that you’ve had a few dramas on your boat, it sounds awful, he said that you’re really upset?’

TG – ‘Oh that was your dad, he seems really nice, yes, the boat is pretty fucked if you look at it and the worst of it is that it’s all stupidity. I’d be less upset if we’d had genuine accidents, we’d still have to pay, but the boatyard has a ton of work to do, so they can’t even turn it around when we go back tomorrow. It’s all a bit depressing. ‘

Jane – ‘Sounds it’ She cocks her head and gives a little smile. ‘You don’t know who we are do you?’

TG – ‘Er…. No…. erm.’

Jane – ‘Well you know that you hired your boat from Blakes….’

TG – ‘Fuck me – no..’

Jane – ‘Yep, my dad is Mr Blake, you’ve just told him everything, I’d have a drink if I were you. Also if you want company tonight, me and the girls will join you at the other pub – see you there at seven?’

TG wanders off, legs slightly buckled at what’s happened.

5PM Day Three – The Boat

Is now moored back at the pub and the group are drinking bottled beer as fast as they can, tomorrow is when the boat goes back and they’re fucked. There’s very little conversation.

6PM Day Three – Village Pub

The group enter the bar and shake hands with the landlord, they order drinks and wait for Jane and the others. There’s a small group of young locals giving them dirty looks, but nobody can be bothered to even look at them by this stage.

6:55 PM Day Three – Village Pub

Jane and her friends join the table, one of the locals calls out but they totally ignore him and an animated conversation ensues.

10PM Day Three – Village Pub

The pub will close in a few minutes, TG and TD have to visit the toilet to make room for the lock-in drinks. There’s a tap of TG’s shoulder and he turns to take a punch in the face from one of the locals. It’s not a good one and he licks a tiny drop of blood from his lip before grinning at the local.

TD – ‘We don’t want any trouble, don’t hit him back’

TG – continues to grin at the local

Local – ‘you were asking for it, flashing your money around and hanging out with those rich slag…’

TD has punched him through the door and he’s lying dazed and beaten on the bar floor.

The group have taken up scattered positions around the bar – ready for a fight, the locals that were being hostile seem stunned. TG waves the group to get them to stand down.

TG – to Landlord – ‘We’re so sorry, this little wanker just sucker- punched me, but it’s best if we leave I suppose, but just to be clear, he can’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag and I was going to let it go – He called Jane and the girls slags, we’re not taking that…

Landlord – eying the locals carefully – ‘It would have been nice to drink with you tonight, you seem like good men, I’ll make sure these little shits don’t follow you, although it might be nice to see them try, good luck lads, hope the wedding goes OK.’

10:10 PM Outside the Pub

TG to Jane – ‘Sorry the evening ended like this, it’s been a genuine pleasure to meet you all and we’ll all ‘- he nods at the group ‘remember your generosity and niceness for a long time. Please tell your dad that we’re sorry and that we’ll pay for any damages without argument, just give us the bill. ‘

They hug and all parties go their separate ways

8AM Day Four – The Boat

TG is steering and the boat is now heading back to the boatyard and the reckoning of the bill.

Bio -Anybody want breakfast, we’ve still got all that food, I’ll cook.’

Everybody nods

8:30 AM Day Four – The Boat

Bio has appeared with cups of tea for everybody and there’s been a sound of clattering and sizzling of frying pans for a few minutes, the smell of bacon and cooking meats permeates the air and the group begin to smile.

8:32 AM Day Four – The Boat

The smell of cooking has been replaced by the smell of burning plastic and smoke and flames billow from the galley bellow, TG stops the boat and runs below to see:

8:33 AM Day Four The BoatThe Galley

The Galley roof on fire, there are two portable BBQ units on top of the stove and they have spilled burning charcoal everywhere and creating small fires on the floor. Bio is having a minor meltdown and is panicking.

TG throws the fire extinguisher at Bio and grabs the BBQ units with the oven gloves and throws them overboard. A haze of extinguisher gases comes from the galley.

IS – ‘I don’t suppose you saved any sausages?’

8:36 AM Day Four – The Boat

Bio – arising from the galley, scorched and sooty – ‘Behold’

A plate of sausage sandwiches

10:35 AM Day Four – Blakes Boatyard

TG to the group – ‘There’s no point us all being here, take the stuff to the bus and me and TFI will see how bad it is.’

The Group trudge off and TFI and TG watch the same boatyard hand that gave them the boat walk towards them. he doesn’t look happy, there’s still an occasional whisp of smoke and the boat looks as if it’s come from Dunkirk.

TG – ‘Hi, there’s a bit of damage…’

Blakes Man – ‘WE KNOW. WE KNOW…. I have a message for you from Mr Blake’ He sneers and squints at TG and TFI. ‘Have a great wedding, please never come back.’

TG – ‘Is that it?’

Blakes Man – Yes, go on piss off’

TFI – ‘About our depos…. TG- ‘Shut the fuck up and let’s get out of here’

They walk to the minibus, the sun is shining and TG is grinning like an idiot.

END

This is all fiction right*, Hey Netflix, I’m available for discussion if you want to film this.

  • Every single word is true and I’ve forgotten some of it

We were lucky enough to meet some extraordinarily generous people who turned a trip into an experience that’s lasted in my memory for over half a lifetime and I thank them all.

A note from our Chairman

‘Right then Human, write all this down.

Just under three years ago, you came to see me for the first time, you brought that black dog and another human who’s since vanished – bit of a pattern with you by the way, how many came and went in 18 months or so? What? Move on? Yeah OK.

Anyway……

I was in that place in Warrington and I confess that it wasn’t going that well, I’d been in for a while and had already been through two other human homes with erm…. bad results. I bit one of the bastards as they were holding me down while bringing that bloody hoover thing near. What?

Yes. I know. I bit you a couple of times too. But it was all scary. You took me in a car, another strange house, new smells and new rules.

But, bit by bit, we got used to each other and I wasn’t as scared anymore. I know you like photos and if you look at the ones that Warrington took, it’s obvious that I was scared and upset all the time.

Since then, we’ve done so much.

We’ve gone all over the country and I’ve been able to play on beaches on different coastlines, run in forests, climb mountains with you and have the space to go off by myself and make new friends.

Yeah I know he nearly killed me, but it wasn’t his fault, he was a bit panicked and I don’t remember much apart from flying through the air and waking up at the Vet with you telling them that they couldn’t stop you coming in to the room with me, (something about a disease, blah blah), but it was only a cracked rib and I made sure that they wanted you to come and get me as soon as you could.

The fact that I couldn’t walk for a while was an issue and although I’m glad that you got me fixed, TWO OPERATIONS… TWO.. That wasn’t fun. Thank you I suppose. It was nice of you to sleep on the floor with me rather than caging me up. I suppose..

But, all in all. It’s not been too bad, I have days when I’m not overly happy that you brought HER in, she’s a bit big, a bit young and a bit pushy. I’m glad that you finally worked out that the last operation gave me arthritis and give me something every day so that I can actually run around.

And now we have the new house, more space than ever before and you don’t disappear as much as you used to.

So. To sum this up, you’ve done OK in the first three years, lots of work to do, but I guess that I’ll stay.

Well done Human…….’

Hopeful Hound

I’m in Adelaide as I write this, I was in Sydney yesterday, fly back there tomorrow evening and will be back there for a day or so before I finally fly home.

The timezones are messing with my head, it’s half an hour earlier in Adelaide than Sydney and nine hours ahead of London in Sydney. I went to bed at 10 last night and got up at 4am today…

Or… I went to bed at lunchtime yesterday and got up before dark. It’s all a bit strange.

It’s a work trip, it’s not been horrible, but for large parts of the day – or sometimes, the whole day, I’m a stranger in a strange land. I don’t mind that too much, I’m happy to stay in the shadows when it suits and I don’t feel any burning need to meet or talk to people.

But.

Occasionally I’ve felt like a ghost, flitting my way through the living, walking quietly, unheard and sometimes unseen.

It doesn’t help that I miss these two monkeys and worry about them and all the people back home, but needs must and I’m doing everything I can to make this trip a success, doing hands-on IT work and playing geographic politics so that we can actually make some real changes.

I could easily be negative about the whole thing, but, in truth, this is a great opportunity to fix some things that would otherwise be very difficult and to do some long overdue catching up. I’m very fortunate that I have a few friends in the Sydney area and have done beers and dinner with them, along with a very special Sunday lunch where I caught up with a couple that I haven’t seen for over 10 years.

We drank, we reminisced, we discussed the dead and the living, we drank, we discussed ageing and the issues with ageing parents, we drank, we discussed careers and the trivial minutiae of living in Sydney / rural Shropshire, we drank, we discussed my stag do and the unique way that our Norfolk Broads boat was returned to the boat yard – holed above the waterline, missing some of the roof and scorched by a fire, we drank, we looked at old photos, we drank, we discussed their wedding and the beautiful location above a river where the ceremony was held – just opposite their house – and we laughed.

I left their house feeling as if the previous ten years somehow hadn’t happened, it was a great moment and I’m still smiling now.

We all need a personal connection sometimes, what’s struck me while I’ve been here is how friendly people are when you do talk to them and how much they seem to want to help, to be supportive, to make a connection, it’s probably due to the lockdowns and extended restrictions, but it’s evident in every shop and bar.

And it’s nice.

I’ll go for dinner (beer) with some Australian colleagues tonight, fly back to Sydney tomorrow night and go for drinks and dinner with my friends on Thursday before I fly back.

We’ll make a few more memories, laugh some more and hopefully they’ll be over to the UK this year.

I can introduce them to these two then – that’ll be interesting *

* possibly terrifying – but it’ll definitely be memorable. (I Hope)

Deities and Dogs. A Reprise

Once upon a time, a while ago, my life was travelling.

I spent months at a time in India for work, coming back to catch up for a week or two before going off again. It was interesting but not really fun.

Apart from the things that were off the wall, unplanned and more random than I could ever imagine.

I met the god Shiva a number of times and he made sure that I knew he was around – see.. https://smallthunderdog.blog/2015/03/28/of-gods-and-thunderdogs/

Eventually that all calmed down and I haven’t been out of the UK for over two years.

And I didn’t want to.

I still don’t really. These two little monkeys have filled my heart in a way that I didn’t think possible, but needs must.

So I’m off to Australia.

And like everything in my life – it’s not simple. I’m unvaccinated and the Australians have been very, very rigid about travel. It was all very fraught. https://smallthunderdog.blog/2022/07/03/schrodingers-dog/

But at the last minute, they’ve opened up travel and mine is pretty much the first flight out.

Blind luck?

Synchronicity ?

Or is it, as one of my colleagues commented without irony, a deity giggling at me?

The bastard.

We’ll see.

I already miss the doglets.

But life is still out there. And it has to be lived.

Schrodinger’s Dog

A while ago, I wrote this….

Tears in Rain

A lot’s happened since then. I had a garden office built, went solar and invested in a Tesla Powerwall so that I could de-disk electricity supply issues.

I also adopted Cairo as a friend for Milo, had a couple of breaks and have effectively given up my day job to help steer a huge programme across a number of companies that fall under the group umbrella.

Coincidentally, the company that employs me has an issue that needs somebody from the UK to go to Sydney to untangle some issues.

I was asked.

I said that I could. But. Oh damn. I’m unvaccinated. Shame really. This wasn’t disingenuous, I’ve been twice and don’t need 48 hours on a plane or long days abroad at all.

And I don’t fancy leaving the dogs for ten days either… Cairo in particular frets when I’m gone for even a day.

Except. New South Wales entry requirements on their website says this.

So it seemed that I could go. The thing is that this trip ties in nicely with the new role and i can get a lot accomplished much more quickly than if I don’t.

Remember, I’m unvaccinated, at first I was hesitant, but that position has hardened over the past year and there’s no chance at all of me taking it now.

So I applied for a visa that allowed me to work for a while and was pleasantly surprised to find no vaccination questions and it was granted within a minute – very impressive.

Flights were booked via Etihad and I found a nice hotel near the office.

I then contacted business people and friends in country to sort out meetings and beers.

So far, so good.

and then…..

Australia requires you to fill in a Digital Passenger Declaration, but you can’t do that until seven days before you fly, So I filled mine in while on holiday with the doglets in Wales, it’s a simple document and it clearly gives an outcome.

Except it doesn’t. I fully expected to be told to fuck off – as I don’t meet the current standards for the federal government according to the DPD.

Except I wasn’t. But there’s no way I’m taking a risk at check-in as to whether I can fly, but luckily, the airline has a service that can do this for you.

BUT.

Only 72 hours before the flight.

So I tried to call. I got an automated service that told me nothing. So I tried live chat. Frustrating and quite sad in a way

So I tried a few other numbers and eventually talked to a human. Probably in India. They told me to check their website. The call didn’t go well.

I have a good friend in Sydney and he spent three hours on the phone with the authorities. He sent me a mail.

This basically stopped me cold, I did try to ring the consulate, but they pointed me at the same number as my friend.

So I had to wait until this morning to fill out the online form for the airline.

That was seven hours ago, I doubt I’ll get an answer today.

I genuinely don’t care if I have to cancel or not (part of me would like that). But the Australians seem even more fucked up than I ever thought possible.

I’ll wait for the outcome as to whether I can fly, but until then, I’m neither flying or cancelling.

Schrodinger’s Passenger.

And then. And then.

Within an hour of my self imposed deadline to cancel the flight on Monday 4th July at 14:30 – the Australians dropped all restrictions and tests. For the day of my flight.

Tomorrow 6th July.

So off I go.

You couldn’t make this shit up.

Welcome to 2022.

Put Your Lights On

I was just finishing walking the dogs on what felt like the first real day of spring, we’d walked for miles, taken in a pub lunch and Cairo – the new dog, a rescue from Shrewsbury had been off-lead for the first time. It was glorious- then the phone rang.

It was Shirley’s care home and those calls always give me a sinking feeling and today was one of those days where things weren’t great.

The care home itself is lovely, it has views over Richmond and Shirley can see the castle from her window. The staff are amazing and there’s never been a moment when Shirley hasn’t been looked after. She broke her hip a while ago, but the team helped to get her back to normal amazingly quickly.

This call wasn’t about care though. It was about the lingering psychological damage Susan and her little crew have left Shirley with. See True Detective and all the subsequent posts for some grim reading.

This call was about the subject that I always dread. Shirley’s address book. It comes up every few months and – every few months, I have to tell Shirley that all her contacts and therefore relatives – are lost forever because some psycho cut her and Arthur off by design.

And so, I spent ten minutes or so going through the story with the lovely lady from the care home and giving her the script to play back to Shirley.

The address book is gone. It was probably gone as long ago as 2017. I searched the house after it went on the market and none of Arthur and Shirley’s possessions were there. Susan had effectively removed their existence.

We closed the call and I promised to get up there soon- not easy these days, a seven hour round trip, but..but.. there’s nobody else really.

And, by that time, I was home and did the automatic checking the phone for notifications thing.

There was a WordPress notification

Somebody claiming to be a relative of Shirley had reached out, they gave details that only somebody who knew Shirley could possibly know. And they gave an email address.

I mailed it and asked for a phone number.

And received one within minutes.

I called the number and it was a nephew – the son of Shirley’s sister.

He told me details that I’d never heard of and gave me information that will open the roadblock to getting Arthur’s pension to Shirley. He has two siblings and one lives an hour away from Shirley.

They’ve been looking for Shirley too and my blog was the first information that showed them that she was still alive. His wife has done some amazing detective work on this and so, within thirty minutes of an awful phone call, the best news that I’ve heard for years came along

The home now know their details and they’re on the official list to visit etc. (I have to agree visitors because…….)

Oh and that photo.

It’s Arthur and Shirley’s wedding day. I’ve never seen it before. It’s being sent along with others to Shirley.

A minor one to be sure. But a miracle nonetheless.

Keep fighting. Keep hoping. Sometimes it’s worth it.

Well, Here we go…

Prologue, December 20th 2021.

I’m sitting in a portacabin in the car park of a care home in Richmond, North Yorkshire and telling my aunt about the contents of a bag of Christmas presents that I have for her.

She’s very frail now, incredibly arthritic and worryingly, seems to drift off for minutes at a time.

One of her presents is a pair of image-stabilising binoculars to replace some that were stolen or disposed of.

She listens intently and then asks me the same question that she asks every time that I talk to her.

‘Have you found my address book? It’s got all my phone numbers and addresses in it and I don’t know how to contact anybody’

I want to scream, I want to punch the walls, I want blood and I want vengeance and I swallow all that hatred back inside before answering.

‘No, we’ll never find it, Susan must have disposed of it long ago. None of your stuff was left in the house at all’

I sound calm, because I have to be, for her; and it breaks my heart to watch her face drop and her eyes begin to tear.

Again.

And the rage begins the fight with sadness inside me.

Again.

And I keep my face blank, because I must.

Again.

How did it come to this?

Could it happen again to you or somebody you know?

It’s impossible to say, but people don’t know what to watch for, we didn’t.

Let’s go back to the beginning and maybe this little book will help a few people.

Summer 1972

I’m nine years old and on an adventure with my uncle, we’re going to some place called Norfolk in his lorry, the radio is on and he’s bought me a coke to drink while I marvel at the open countryside, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen so much of it.

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.