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.
And the rage begins the fight with sadness inside me.
And I keep my face blank, because I must.
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.
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.
I was shocked to learn that some people can be so horrible but was heartened to learn that others (you) can be so generous with their time and effort. I also want to say a huge thank you because Shirley is my mother’s sister. I would love to speak privately to convince you I want nothing except to help if I can and also to let Shirley know she is not forgotten. To persuade you that I’m genuine, Arthur’s best friend and Shirley’s first husband was Reg Pickley and her middle name is Wendy. Please could you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.