The Voice on The Wire

2009_05240005As Usual

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

It’s all here…

True Detective



The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men


Cry Havoc


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:


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.


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.


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?’


‘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?’



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


‘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:



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






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



The Last Detective

No Country For Old Men


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.

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

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. ‘
I did receive a reply – which although not massively heartening, at least made me feel like somebody was taking note.


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.


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.



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 .


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.


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 mile 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. 




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, the usual 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.


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, 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)