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- His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why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 Ada living in my Uncle’s old house – but not Sharon, Sharon didn’t appear in any searches.
Ada 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 Sharon, 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.
Ada doesn’t have a daughter named Sharon.
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..
I started making some phone calls, but where to start?
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’
‘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’
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.
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 Sharon called the Police on me and after a very long chat, I got to see my Uncle.’
‘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’
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..
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 Sharon 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.
They could give opinions.
Sharon 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)
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.
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 Sharon was found.
She’d lived with somebody likely to be her mother, ‘Ethel’ in a flat one town away and previously near Hereford.
The older lady is definitely her mother, she’s around 90 or so and Sharon’s 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 Sharon / my Uncle had returned, shouting was heard where Sharon stated that:
‘I’m in charge of this house, nobody is allowed in without my say so’
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 Sharon.
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.
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