Road Dogs

The dog looked up from his basket in the car where he’d been sleeping next to me . ‘Are we there yet?’ He asked.

I was surprised, his timing was pretty close, we had about twenty minutes left to drive before we would get home.

‘I see you’re still listening to that German stuff, the whistle at the start of the track woke me up…. Again.’

His left ear raised up accusingly for a second before flopping back down again into the usual position just above his eye.

‘Yes, don’t you like it?’

‘It’s ok. All a bit vague sometimes though, what’s all that shark business about?’

I was surprised again. I didn’t know that he understood any German and pondered my reply for a moment.

‘Anyway. While you’re thinking about that, do you want to talk about the last few days ?’

His ear raised itself up again as he asked and I understood that this was the real question here.

‘OK, what do you want to know? ‘

‘All of it. Why did we leave? Where did you disappear to for half a day? Are we going home now? Will there be sossidges?’

I thought about this for a second while he hummed along to the chorus of ‘Engel’ , baring his teeth to the line ‘Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein’

There was no chance of that for either of us, so I grinned back at him and started speaking.

‘Well, we’ve been locked down for quite some time now and I’ve been looking at the stats and judging those carefully against my own interpretation of where we are… and I decided a week or so ago that it was time to see my Dad again.’

The ear lifted in silent question, so I carried on.

‘You’ve never seen him, but I may take you next time, not that you’ll see much either. Anyway, he lives 230 miles from me and I last saw him a week before the Lockdown kicked in and he hasn’t left his little flat since. We’re lucky that we can still go and hide out in the other house so that we didn’t have to do it all in one day.’

His eyebrows lifted. Three hours in the car was more than enough for him, even with my tuneful singing-along to Germanic rock music. ‘So why did you go? Is he sick ? Are you sick? Why? Why now? ‘

I sighed.

‘No. No. Nobody’s sick, not me. Not him. Nobody. It was just time to do it.’

‘Did you miss him that much then? ‘

‘No. Not really. I speak to him quite often. He just hasn’t been able to leave his flat for sixty days and there’s not much of a view for him. Or his cat.

Both ears pricked up now and he looked around quickly… I smiled at his reaction and carried on driving through the roadworks on the M6

‘There’s no cat here. Idiot. My dad has a cat that never manages to get out of the flat either, although i suspect she’d like to, I can’t imagine that it’s much fun being locked up with him 24×7.’

His left ear flopped again and he rested his head onto the centre console and gazed up at me with his huge amber eyes. I smiled fondly at him and stroked one of his velvety ears as I continued driving.

‘Anyway. I made the judgement call around a week ago that we’d make the trip and that I’d accept the risks for me.’

‘Risks?’ The ear raised briefly again and he continued looking up at me.

‘Risks of me catching the virus – that was acceptable, there was no risk to my dad as I stood outside his window. Risks of having an accident, risks of getting stuck if lockdown increased. That sort of thing… And… all of those risks were acceptable.’

‘If he’d been ill, would you still have gone?’

‘Yes… Much earlier, there’s the rules and there’s what’s right. The rules change all the time and it’s for each of us to work out what we can live with and more importantly what we can’t. I wanted to go this time to show my Dad that we’re still out here and we care. Everybody else has to make their own minds up, but they’re not my concern. We do what’s right for us in the moments that we have and we live with those decisions and their outcomes – for good or bad. We can’t go back or second guess. We keep moving forward…’

The ear lifted again.

‘Sort of like that German shark then?’

I smiled

He dozed off again, leaving me to concentrate on driving.

Fin

Dreaming Dogs

Anything that I write, have ever written, or will ever write; is just a snapshot in time. A tiny glimpse of a small life and the lives and things that I observe.

Anybody reading this today (9th May 2020) will know immediately what Lockdown and Covid-19 mean. Hopefully, at some future point, we’ll have to remind ourselves of that strange time.

The time that the world basically went on hold. Every day similar to the last. Enough variations in the weather and.. oh Thank God… Work, so that I can tell the days apart. For those furloughed, out of work or retired, this must monotonous beyond belief.

Every day.

Just

Like

The

Last

For

Fuck’s

Sake

I’m still living two days at a Time – but the lack of clarity, the screeching of various factions and the increasing disconnect when I talk to friends and family on the phone are all making the part of me that I’m keeping under my own lockdown want to rise up and do something. Fight back.

Against what though?

I’m still no clearer about the risk to myself or others, the relative mortality stats seem to be flawed at best and there are no recovery stats posted in the UK, although I know two people personally over 50 who’ve had it and survived.

But the itch is still there.

I drove halfway to town this morning and walked the dog before it got too hot and I saw a man with a Costa cup. I was actually excited and asked him if they’d reopened.

it was from the petrol station and therefore much more likely an infection vector than an actual shop. I didn’t tell him that, nor did I take his recommendation to go and buy one. He was a nice chap though and we agreed that it’s the little things that are starting to bite.

No physical contact at all for those of us who live alone. No handshake, no hug from a friend, no kiss of a cheek or the prospect of more from a new friend. No cuddle if you’re feeling down or a pat on the shoulder to push you forward.

A huge amount of people are living in solitary confinement and let’s be honest here (at least to ourselves), I have it lucky.

I have a job that never required me to travel much anyway. I have enough friends scattered across the world that I can talk to somebody at any time of the day or night if I feel the need to.

I have Milo.

Milo the Rescue Dog, the dog that I took from a shithole kennel in Warrington.

Milo of the missing teeth.

Milo of the doggie PTSD.

Milo, who spent Twenty PLUS weeks in the cage – the last time that he was dumped.

Milo of the apparently infinite capacity for love.

The longer the lockdown goes on, the more he wants to play in the garden, some variation of me chasing him around to grab a toy or a ball. A game that initiates nine times out of ten.

So I can’t complain. Not really.

The Rescue Dog has rescued me.

I’m one of the few people I know at work who isn’t struggling now. I have regular exercise and I’m not allowed to get too involved in work issues for long as it’s either walk-time or playtime again.

I can cope with this shit for a while longer.

I can take each day as it comes and try to see the beauty that surrounds us .

To appreciate each moment as a snapshot and to look for the next one.

But it can’t be forever and unless we can start being given more than platitudes and stats that don’t add up, I suspect that all those like me who are quietly sitting on the fence of this will take our own side.

Because I want to see my friends again, I want to sit in a bar or a garden and cry with laughter because somebody has left their phone too close to a pack of deviants. Or because somebody has made me wear a dress in public (for fun not perversion… although….).

I’ve made promises to myself.

I’m going to live day by day for now and take it as it comes.

I’m going to live it to the fullest after this.

You should too.

Dem Ole Lockdown Blues

Derek sat at his rig, flexed his fingers and put his mask in place before spinning up his own little VR construct.

There he was. Alive and waiting on the screen, ready to flatter, fluster and bemuse the waiting string of naive and desperate young things who would eventually allow him to lure them out and….

Enough. He had to get into character if this was going to work. He had to BE the character he portrayed. Ironic really, given that his construct was a struggling actor.

Jason Janus, for that was the actor’s real name (according to IMDB, who were the experts in this stuff, so they should know) was just not quite perfect enough to find any real work. Uncredited long-shots in adverts and a fiery death (also uncredited) in a minor blockbuster. He was a polymath by the standards of industry; Writer, Singer, Actor, a real triple-threat who couldn’t quite make it.

And the little girls lapped it up.

How could anybody so handsome, so well spoken, so.. so… Perceptive.. How could he not find real work?

Perhaps he needed a new fan-club leader, or social media expert, or perhaps they could just write to the major directors and work on his behalf?

Because the thing that he was hinting at was too much for somebody like them.. Wasn’t it?

Because he was perfect and he knew THEM in a way that nobody ever had.

He seemed to know just the right thing to say to cheer them up when they were at their lowest and had an uncanny ability to know exactly when they were low. Almost like their souls were bonded.

Except he’d never be crass enough to say that. He might say that he felt like he knew them in a way that he’d never felt before. He might allude to them perhaps having an ‘old soul’. Anything else usually came from them.

His little toys

They were correct though, he knew them in ways that even their best friends and parents didn’t. Every keystroke, every conversation, every whispered secret to their friends, every teardrop from a real or imagined hurt. And he had it all.

From the moment of first, meticulously researched and planned contact, he installed backdoors into their PCs, tablets and phones. Their diaries and secret thoughts were open to him.

And.

He was an ACTOR

In this new world, Actors were somehow classed as key workers, never without a propaganda film to make, an advert to show the masses how to think, who to avoid, which class of people may be somehow filthy.

They looked at the photos on the news and entertainment websites that he directed them to. They loved it.

Look! There he is, just slightly out of focus, being punched by Jason Statham.

Look! There he is behind Dwayne Johnson on the red carpet at a premiere.

Look!!! There’s his script that has just been optioned by a major studio, directors were queuing up to take the job.

And… He had agreed that only HE could be the star!!!!!

AND. AND. AND.

He was looking for a special type of girl, somebody raw but beautiful, somebody without the layers of cynicism that he (they) despised.

He was looking.

She just had to be found somewhere.

AND OH MY GOD!!!

What were the odds of her friend in Singapore pointing her out to him online, inviting him into a chat group?

None.

But that was how it started. Every single time, a friend that only contacted them intermittently would appear and chat for a while before mentioning THEIR new friend. This actor. He was only a friend and he seemed like the sort of person that they’d like to chat to.

Three- way chats became a two way chat at some point and they just got on SO WELL.

And let’s face it, the lockdown had fucked things beyond belief for people like her. The spirited types whose every move now was tracked by contact tracing apps. Where had she been? For how long? Who had she met?

Whole enterprises had sprung up around the apps and the New Puritanism, partly fuelled by the statist tendencies of both extremes of the political spectrum and the religious fundamentalists was now fanning big business.

If she met a boy for more than two minutes, her phone SHRIEKED and her parents would be notified. Try to go to one of the appointment-only bars and the bouncers would be on her in a heartbeat.

Oh. And her parents would be notified.

VR had caught on in a big way, but girls with wealthy parents like hers still had no leeway, they were constantly monitored and couldn’t get away with anything at all.

Or could they?

In his fourth or fifth text-only chat session, he’d suggest a private VR chat, hosted by one of his media friends, it wouldn’t be traceable and her parents would never know.

How could they resist?

And they didn’t, only one had got away.

She spooked when the VR programme glitched, seeing his real face and background. Nothing too horrible, he wasn’t ugly or fat, just much, much older and his eyes may just have looked a bit too bright, shiny and fevered for her liking.

He erased all traces of their chats from her devices and planted a few messages to her best friend that suggested that she’d like to be SO much more. Who’d believe what she said now?

Still, it meant that he now wore the mask and all the facial monitoring was done from within and nobody could identify him no matter what happened.

And now it was time to take the latest little starlet on to her trip with Destiny.

Little Callie Blau. School now finished and in her first year of college. Legally emancipated but restricted by the Lockdown, apps and lack of money as badly as a 19th century convent girl.

Black haired, pale skinned, dark eyed, red lipped. Genuinely beautiful in a way that none of the others had been. He was looking forward to this one more than he ever had before.

The meeting.

The realisation

The horror

The rending

The tearing and gnashing of flesh

Callie was going to be perfect.

Mask on, he initiated the call, a few seconds of noise and there she was. She was in her bedroom as usual, a mix of schoolgirl pink and gothic black decor. She was desperate to change her image to something older, but her parents you know…?

‘Hi’

‘Hello, I was worried that you might not call tonight, you seemed…preoccupied last night?’

He smiled. Outwardly it was warm and sweet, inwardly, it was cold and gratified that she’d walked into the setup so easily. So, so easily.

‘Wow, I can’t believe that you spotted that, I’m so sorry.. I just had something come through and it was just.. so.. so… perfect that I couldn’t believe it’

The girl smiled broadly, god, she really was perfect.

‘What? Is it your script? What is it?’

She leaned further forward into the virtual space, her usual outfit of jeans and ‘something blue’ – always blue, whether a sports top, t-shirt or hoodie. Her little joke – ‘Callie Blue’.

‘Come on, please tell me, I’ll just DIE.’

He smiled again, this was it. This was where the script that he had so lovingly prepared started to work on them.

‘Netflix have been in touch, they want to option it. I’ve played hard on this though and told them that I HAVE to play the lead and that I want to select my own leading lady. This is my only shot and I can’t take the risk. It HAS to be a newcomer, she HAS to be under 20 and she HAS to know how I think.’

‘And, I was.. I was…’

She leaned in again, the construct of the VR putting them into touching distance.

‘What? You were?’

He smiled again. The hook was set..

He leaned in, and…

FUCK.. What WAS THAT?

The girl looked perplexed, her perfect brow furrowing.

‘You were?’

SHIT.. Had she seen the glitch? This was a weird one. He’d seen a darkened space, lit only by soft oil-burners, there may have been something in the dark – but he couldn’t be sure. Fucking software was glitching more than he’d like these days.

‘You were?’

She was smiling nervously now, but he couldn’t see any trace of real knowledge in her eyes. He settled down again.

‘ I was wondering if you’d take a screen test? Tomorrow? After college?’

The girl was beaming now, the smile lighting up her face. This was almost going to be a shame..

‘My parents?’

‘Won’t know a thing, I’ve got a friend who can make your phone say it’s still at home and even if you’re not keen after you meet the casting director, you can keep the hack on your phone.’

The girl was all smiles now – a double-baited hook, potential fame and guaranteed work AND freedom to do whatever she wanted.

‘So how would we make it work?’

She was his now and her life could be measured in hours…

‘I’ll send a driver to pick you up, he’ll fix your phone on the spot and he’ll bring you to the studio. We’ll have a mocked-up set and I’ll be there with a cameraman and the casting director. I just know that you’re going to be right for this, you have everything the script needs. You’ll be gone for four hours max, your parents won’t even know you’re gone.’

That was true anyway, they were so used to being self-medicated after all these years of Lockdown that they were usually out of things by 9PM, knowing that the app would do their job for them. It wasn’t even like she could leave her phone behind, proximity and motion sensors had put paid to that little trick.

‘OK. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I can’t believe how lucky I am, I just can’t…….’

‘You deserve all of what’s coming, just PLEASE don’t let anybody know until after casting though, I have a non-disclosure clause that will kill the deal and take what little cash I have left.’

The girl nodded frantic assent and he moved to wrap the call up as soon as possible, knowing that she would be writing all this up in her ‘secret’ diary. He’d be wiping that before she left the house tomorrow.

The next day passed in a blur, so much to do, so much.

Print a Key Worker pass for one of his aliases.

Change the number plates on his people-carrier

Check his tool bag

Monitor the girl’s phone and activate the tracking programme he’d installed that would spoof her location to the Lockdown control app monitoring stations.

Check his tool bag again

All the good stuff was at the studio but he had a few things in there, just in case he needed them.

Check the VR programme. – that glitch was spooky and it wasn’t one of his scenes – no sign of it, but still a worry. He’d uninstall it after this and start from scratch

Print ‘the script’, the girl could read that while he drove her to the studio,

And finally.

Shower, dress for the part, black suit, white shirt, dark tie.

And leave.

It was an hour’s drive to the girl’s house and another hour from there to the studio- and it was a studio.

An uncle had left him an industrial park and a sizeable amount of cash. He’d taken one of the units and converted it to a working soundstage with lights, cameras and a full remote control setup.

The lights were already on and warming the space and he allowed himself a smile as he saw the girl waiting for him in the arranged place.

He pulled in, flashed his lights and watched her come to the door.

Even more beautiful in the flesh, she GLOWED , there was no other word for it. A simple blue dress, heels and no apparent makeup.

‘Good evening miss, can I have your phone please?’

She handed it over and he made a pantomime of making changes to it, opened up the app that he’d inserted and returned it. She climbed into the back seat , did up her seat-belt and he drove off.

He watched her in the rear-view mirror as she watched the app on her screen and saw that her phone was still apparently within 50 metres of her house.

‘Can I offer you a drink of water for the journey?’

Her dark eyes smiled at him from the mirror, her perfume was understated and smelled vaguely like incense, surprising for one so young – and very intoxicating.

‘No thank you, how long will the journey be?’

‘Just under an hour, Mr Janus is already there and he’s left a copy of the script for you in that envelope.’

That smile again.

‘Thank you.’

A rustle of paper and she began to read, he watched her as often as he could while she did so and was a little worried by what seemed to be dark amusement in her eyes.

‘So Mr Janus, Jason.. wrote this by himself?’

‘ I believe so miss’

‘It’s a little dark, does the girl have to die?’

‘Sorry miss?’

‘Oh. You haven’t read it. It seems a bit bleak.’

And yet she seemed to be smiling, was there something wrong with her?

‘We’re nearly there now miss, just another mile or so.’

‘Your voice seems familiar, have we spoken before?’

‘No miss.’

‘Ah Ok. I asked Jason, Mr Janus a question last night.’

‘A question?’

‘Yes. I couldn’t believe that I was so lucky and I asked Jason if he was doing this just because he wanted to, that he wanted to give this dream to me.’

That strange question from last night, he’d brushed over it with a glib ‘Yes of course, you deserve this’, now here it was again.

Just in time to save him answering the question, the open doors and blinding lights of the soundstage came into view, illuminating the inside of the car and highlighting her perfect features.

‘DO YOU think he meant it? That he’s giving this to me freely?’

There was definite amusement there, if she suspected him, she should be scared, but.. she wasn’t. Why wasn’t she bothered? Why was she…. amused?

‘I.. don’t know miss, I can’t speak for him.’

‘Are you sure?’

The lights in the unit were dimming somehow, the blinding glare was retreating into a dull red glow where no lights should be.

“I.. I.. don’t know what you mean miss, I’m just a….’

She had taken his hand and was looking deeply into his eyes. That dark amusement was all that he could see now.

Fuck… How had he thought that she was young, she was so old.

‘Derek, the time for lies is over. You gave yourself freely to me last night and promised me whatever I wanted. Me Kali Blue, you gave yourself to me. You and that long trail of souls that you carry around you like a shroud.’

Fuck… she knew his name.. She knew about the others… How? How?

‘I……….’

“Enough now Derek, it’s time.’

Tightening her grip on his hand, still with that dark amusement in her GLOWING eyes, she led him into the warm darkness.

Bad Science Fiction (2)

I wrote this back in 1997.

I don’t know why I thought about it today.

It’s not that good, but meh.

It wasn’t anything major that started it all off. Not nuclear testing, or global warming, or volcanic activity or even the pollution from the Gulf War. No, it was something really quite minor and everyday. So, things happened slowly and that’s where I’ll start.

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been fascinated with Science Fiction. Films, books, comics, cartoons, anything. I especially loved stories about nature gone mad, films like Tarantula or Them. Books like The Rats, Night Of The Crabs, Mantis! , Spiders, the list seems endless.

I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now, ordinary, if disgusting creatures mutated by chemical or nuclear accidents, grown to huge size and developing a craving for human flesh.

If only things were as simple as that, we might have a chance.

When I’ve finished this, I’ll seal it in a plastic container and seal that in concrete inscribed with today’s date and my name. Maybe, one day, in the distant future, it might  be read.

The house is as safe as I can make it, but I don’t think that it will stay that way for long, even steel can only take so much punishment and lead can only screen a finite amount of radiation. The walls are not so thick that I can’t hear them baying and snarling outside, those that are left alive. One of them ripped the TV camera from the wall yesterday, so I can’t even see what they’re up to anymore. Perhaps that is a blessing.

I bought the house from the family of a survivalist. He had built the house complete with a  bunker that had been designed to withstand a nuclear attack, well, theoretically anyway.  The end of the cold war left him in a state of deep depression and he eventually blew his brains out with an uzi. When I moved in, I found that his bunker was well below specification, it was swarming with ants. I put down masses of poison and, when the room was insect-free, I had it sprayed, floor to ceiling with a quick setting plastic compound.

Even at that time, I didn’t fully understand what was happening, I’m not sure that anybody did. Apart from Solcom, who were so busy trying to cover their tracks that they lost sight of the real problem. It was probably too late anyway, the process had started.

If you were here, now, with me, as I look around my refuge/prison, what would you see?

Probably nothing special.

That’s where you would be wrong, as everybody was wrong. We were so busy looking at chemical spillages and nuclear radiation, that we missed the obvious until it was much, much, much too late. Solcom had their suspicions for almost a year before they went to the government. A whole year. It makes me feel sick to think of all that wasted time, all the lives that were wasted, one by one, until it became an epidemic.

The first proven victim was attacked in Devon on a bright summer’s day. Her name was Edith Watson and she was thirty seven years old and married with two children. She was walking down the local High Street with a carrier bag full of shopping. According to witnesses, she suddenly dropped her shopping  and started to flail at the air around her. Then the sky above her head darkened and a loud humming noise could be heard from almost a quarter of a mile away. Within seconds, it was as if she grew a second, lumpy and heaving skin. She let out one piercing scream, but that was almost instantly muffled and she fell to the ground. People ran towards her to help, but were beaten back almost immediately.

All anybody could do, was to watch her die.

Why she was picked out as a target, is still unclear. What is clear, is that a swarm of bees, a whole hive, over thirty thousand of them, attacked her at once. She was dead within minutes as the combined toxin raced through her system. The attack in itself, although horrible, was not unusual; many cases of the kind had been reported over the years, mostly in South America. No, what set this attack apart, was the fact that the bees on the top layers stung the bees underneath them, and the attack didn’t stop until every single bee was dead. I have a photograph somewhere, of this poor woman, buried under a mound of dead bees, unrecognisable as a human being.

There were another eleven attacks of this kind over the next few months. People attacked and killed by bees, wasps and even locusts. On one occasion, a baby was stripped to the bone by ants, while his parents dozed at a picnic. On all these occasions, the insects turned on each other after the initial killing. People in high places started to ask questions. Only Solcom knew the answer and they weren’t telling.

Did you know that some people can pick up radio signals through their fillings or through metal plates in their head? There have been recorded cases of some of these people going berserk and embarking on a killing spree that usually ends with their own suicide.

Something in their minds just fuse and they are as good as dead from that point on.

Did you know that in the early 1990s, a “yuppie cancer” was diagnosed? It was caused by the microwaves emitted and received by mobile phones and developed on the side of the head, by the ears.

Did you know that the radar on AWACS planes is so powerful, that if you stood in front of it while it was operational, that it would literally cook you?

Have you ever heard of Sick Building Syndrome? There are various theories about the cause of this problem, ranging from ley lines to a lack of plant life in and around the building. The Chinese employ a Feng Shui man to tell them the correct spot to build. On or near a “Dragon” is considered bad “Joss”,( luck ) and such sites are avoided. Whatever the reasoning behind it, the problem is real and such buildings tend to have a lower productivity output and a dramatically worse sickness record than that of a “healthy” building.

In 1993, Solcom developed the Nanowave, it was based on the microwave but occupied a millionth of the space and time of its predecessor. It was also capable of carrying two hundred and fifty times more information. This amounted to a revolution in telecommunications, video phones were now a reality rather than an expensive, unreliable luxury. Portable videophones became the norm as people drifted away from the old style of communicating. Solcom became powerful beyond measure, eclipsing the Japanese giants and totally eliminating B.T and Mercury as competitors. Nanowave relays were set up in every country in the world, with huge gigawatt transmitters erected in Antarctica and the North Pole.

In 1995, Dr Ernst Lubin, the inventor of the Nanowave went mad. He started to see imaginary insects everywhere. He was committed to a mental home for three months and was pronounced to be cured after much pressure was applied to the trustees of the home by Solcom. It was considered bad P.R to have an employee locked up. Two weeks after his release, he wandered into a McDonalds with an assault rifle and killed twenty three people before turning the gun on himself.

Shortly after, a game warden in the Kokuri National Park in Kenya started to observe strange behaviour amongst the animals. This was typified by an attack by lions on a herd of impala.           

It started as a normal hunt, the lionesses split into a loose formation and started their initial run to break up the herd. The herd didn’t move. All four of the lionesses scored a kill, easily bringing down an impala. Then it started to go wrong. Instead of running away, the impala charged the predators en masse. The big cats didn’t stand a chance, and the video footage of the charge makes for disturbing viewing. The lionesses were each gored dozens of times by the slim horns of their prey and were ripped apart by the savagery of the thrusts. Within minutes, there was just a huge expanse of red dirt and torn off limbs scattered about. Then the real carnage started. The impala, seemingly driven mad by their frenzied attack, turned on each other. Again the video footage is horrendous, the overall impression is of dust and blood and the death screams of tortured animals. Not one impala survived.

In London, on September 15th 1995, four tourists and one policeman were literally shredded by pigeons in Trafalgar Square. The pigeons then battled in mid-air until not one survived. Eyewitnesses speak of a rain of blood coating every square inch and of Admiral Nelson turning a bright glistening red.

Between October 1995 and April 1996, every single member of the Nanowave team died violently. Some started fights in bars, some committed suicide in a variety of gruesome ways. One team member while on the twenty fifth floor of a building in Los Angeles, turned to his companion and said; “There’s that bastard Robinson down there, I’m going to get him.”

He then leapt out of the window, shouting abuse all the way down.

On April 20th 1996, Solcom finally turned to the governments of the world and asked for help. Many governments, including our own, had already started their own investigations and that is where I first became aware of the magnitude of the problem.

I had been seconded to the American government team, to help them to make sense of the St Patrick’s Day Massacre on March 17th.  

On that day, a peaceful parade in the middle of New York, erupted into the worst riot that the world had ever seen. It had started when one of the marchers, seeing somebody in the crowd wearing an orange hat, leapt at the unfortunate hat-wearer and smashed his skull with his baton. 

This seemed to be the signal that the crowd had been waiting for, friend flew against friend, brother against brother father against son.

The whole parade ground to a halt as thousands of people grappled against each other makeshift clubs and jagged bottles flying. When the police tried to step in, they were swamped and their weapons ripped from their hands.

Gunshots started to echo.

The mayor of New York attacked the Commissioner of Police with the jagged end of a champagne bottle, ripping his throat out on live television across America. The riot spread and spread, the whole crowd started fighting and the police had to fall back to wait for a lull.

It didn’t come.

People killed and killed and killed, until they were in turn, killed themselves. The phrase “rivers of blood” could have been coined for this one day alone. The streets were awash with bright, arterial blood, up to the depth of the combatant’s ankles. Some people who may have survived their wounds, drowned in blood.

And still it didn’t stop.

Eventually, the Army were called in and had no choice but to open up on the crowd with automatic weapons. At first they rebelled against the very thought of killing their fellow Americans and tried to help the survivors. That idea changed when they too, were attacked by the crowd, and, in one unforgettable moment, a young trooper had his throat bitten out by an eight year old girl.

Of a crowd of more than 50,000 people, only two hundred and forty seven people survived.

Bulldozers had to be used to clear the streets of bodies.

Nobody, including myself, had any idea what could have triggered normal people to act like bloodthirsty savages. Have you ever seen a Zombie film? That’s what those people looked like, only they didn’t shuffle and were as quick as vipers. We were getting nowhere with the investigation, and post-mortem after post-mortem showed no tangible results.

Then Solcom came forward and everything changed.

At first, their story was too much to take in, it didn’t make any sense. Then, all of a sudden, it did.

That’s when I bought this house. I stocked it with thousands of books, tons of food and thousands of gallons of water.

Preparing for a siege.

You see, Solcom had found, very early on, that the Nanowave was a mutagen.

It altered, very subtly and over the course of time, the chemistry of the brain.

Let me give you an example.

You’re walking along the road, it’s dark and you can hear footsteps behind you. You hear something that sounds like the snick of a flick-knife. At this point, your body is flooded with adrenalin and the fight or flight response is initiated. The blood in your body drains from your skin and is transferred to the major organs, the heart, the brain etc. Depending on your personal makeup, you will now turn to face the challenge or you will run away. The most common response is to run.

However, the Nanowaves alter the receptors in the brain that govern this response and the only option that your brain will allow is to fight. Studies have shown that many psychopaths have a slightly altered chemistry and that their only response to a threat is a sudden, devastating attack. The problem however, doesn’t end there, once the adrenalin levels are sufficient to start an attack, the part of the brain that governs reason is disabled.

Permanently.

Once the various governments involved found the cause of the problem, they found that they had another.

Everybody was dependent on the Nanowave.

Everybody.

The transmitters couldn’t be switched off or destroyed.

Instead, experiments were tried to change the frequency that the waves used, and more traffic was routed through satellites.

To no avail.

If anything, things became worse.

On August 1st 1996, two hundred and eleven people in a Hackney housing estate were killed by an attack of millions of cockroaches.

On August 13th 1996, four thousand people in New Orleans were killed by rats.

There were countless examples of people being attacked by the family dog or cat. Those people that managed to fight off the attacks, went on to kill family and friends before dying themselves.

On November 21st 1996, a garrison of British Army troops stationed in Crosmaglen were sniped at on a housing estate. They replied with mortars, machine guns and grenades. The dead were uncountable, mainly because it was hard to find all the pieces.

The list was endless.

On December 5th 1996, all nuclear bases around the world were shut down; even the Chinese had to accept that it was too dangerous to leave a single one manned. All nuclear submarines were recalled and disabled. All strategic bombers were stood down indefinitely.

The world, theoretically, was a safer place.

On January 17th 1997, I quietly resigned my job and retired to my house.

Things seemed to get worse from there.

Every day, there seemed to be new atrocities. Nature going berserk, people going berserk. Parliament stopped meeting on April 11th 1997, after a thankfully empty, House of Commons debate erupted into sickening violence. There were one hundred and eleven dead.

All decisions are made from an underground bunker. I’ve seen it, it’s not as secure as mine.

The streets now are full of bloodthirsty, empty-eyed mobs, using anything as a weapon. I saw one of them clutching a dismembered arm, using it as a club.

I have enough food and water to last me for years, my bunker is virtually impregnable, even the air is recycled rather than filtered in. I don’t think that anybody or anything can get in.

What worries me, what terrifies me, is that someday soon, I’ll want to get out.

The Voice on The Wire

Featured

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

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

 

House Dogs

It’s Easter Monday as I write this and the UK is still under lockdown, it’s day…

Er.

I’m not sure what day of lockdown it is, because I’m not counting.

My guess for the relaxation of restrictions is around the first week of May. I won’t be sorry if it’s earlier of course, but I won’t overly panic if it’s longer.

I miss friends and family, but that’s why we have phones, and Skype and WebEx and Zoom and all the other near-magical tools that can make us feel like we’re in the same room.

Let’s face it, if you’re in the UK, don’t have the virus but do have food and drink, you’re winning right now. Don’t believe me, go to Malaysia where it’s full military lockdown with drones overhead or India, where basic sanitation is still beyond the reach of millions.

Still, it’s tough for many people who haven’t had the dubious benefit of being in a hotel for months at a time where the only people that you’re likely to speak to are waiters or where calls home have to be tightly scheduled.

I had a look on the iTunes Store today for apps that might help with that mystic thing called ‘Mindfulness’ – there’s a lot of them out there and they all seem to want you to spend upwards of $100 a year to look at some pretty pictures, listen to some vague noises and bore yourself into a stupor. I think that they’re probably making a fortune from those poor souls who need a mental boost.

Fuck that.

My only plan for getting through this is as follows, you can follow it or do whatever you want:

1. Take every two days as it’s own thing. There is only today and tomorrow (tomorrow is a work day but otherwise won’t be much different)

2. Avoid TV, Radio and printed ‘news’ – unfollow and actively block people like Piers Morgan , Robert Peston and anybody that you see on social media spreading horror stories and conspiracy theories.

3. Look for the positives in life. Your friends especially will always be there if you need a bit of support on a given day. Spring is here and the world outside is beautiful. Get out early or late if you can and enjoy the sunrise or sunset without so many people around.

4. Revisit the songs, books and films that made you happy when you were younger. Take delight in finding new meanings in each one now that you’re both older and wiser.

5. Seek the things that made you laugh, they probably still do. I’ve been rewatching ‘Bottom’ and it still makes me laugh out loud as the first time I saw it.

6. Drink or don’t. Exercise or don’t. It’s only two days. You can do what you like in the next two days.

7. That’s it.

Today I’ve followed my own rules, I rang my Dad, walked Milo along some beautiful countryside, read a portion of one of my favourite books and I’m sat in the garden writing this with the Lexicon of Love by ABC playing in the background. I’m as content as I can be for now. Later I’ll have a gin and change the music to something more suitable, maybe AC-DC or Manson or Wagner, who knows?

Maybe I’ll update this in the distant future. But that’s after tomorrow, so I won’t stress it.

Small Dog Syndrome

I haven’t written for a while.

To be honest, it’s been too hectic and the hits have come thick and fast.

The long running saga of my Uncle and Aunt still isn’t over and I can’t really say too much as it’s all getting close to the wire for some other people..

Sadly, my Uncle has Alzheimer’s and won’t get the happy ending that he deserves although some other people may get exactly what they need.

Work is massively hectic in a good way and I have a 5 day trip to Europe in a couple of weeks that will take in 5 cities in as many days (Plus Luton on the way out and Manchester on the way back)

And then there’s been HIM.

Milo.

A spur of the moment rescue dog with a whole raft of issues. And a backstory made up of lies. He’s supposedly 8 or so now but seems and acts much younger. He was (again supposedly) owned by one person for seven years.

Except. His vaccination records only go back one year. And I was supposed to be his second rescue home – I’m the third…I don’t know how long he’s spent in cages, but I suspect over six months.

He was supposed to have food aggression and a few other issues – he doesn’t. He does have a doggie form of PTSD where something will trigger his defence mechanisms, but then; he’s missing teeth and has some scars on his head. And if he sees a fat bloke with a beard, he’s like a ballistic missile.

Somebody hurt him badly.

Oh – he’s also not a morning dog, if he could speak, his first words of every day before 7am would be ‘fuck off’.

I don’t do ‘personal’ but a change in circumstances in November meant that I had to find alternative ways of getting him cared for on the days that I’m not at home and this meant interviewing sitters and the various fringe lunatics out there who’ll take your dog ‘if they agree to become part of our pack’ …

I eventually found the right person and after a few meetings, they took to each other and Milo now goes off for days at a time, giving me the comfort to have a work AND social life again, knowing that he’s loved and cared for. And he has a couple of little friends – Luna (she loves him and he adores her) and Roo – a three legged rescue from Romania

He’s also taken to the wider family and I’m now the proud possessor of a drawing by the sitter’s 6 year old brother that just glows with love – I’m currently having that framed.

And….. he’s got a raft of health issues. Both of his back knees have gone and he has a buildup between his discs. So he needs a total of three operations.

And I wonder

Did the previous owner know all this and did they cut and run rather than getting him sorted? I guess I’ll never know.

But.. I wonder….

Anyway, I took out loads of insurance when I got him and he’s now had his first knee op

And he still loves me, despite him being dumped in the vet, operated on, being in pain and wearing those stupid collars. Oh and being locked in a cage.

In a month or so, he’ll have something called a Fenestration on his discs and that’ll be it for this year, I want him to have some summer…And beach and canal time so that he can run around and be the happy little dog that he should have been since day one.

Life has changed so much in the past year that it’s hard to believe. I moved house AND started a new job on the 1st April last year and then took on the biggest project of all in August.

I don’t know where things are going to go now, the job is good, I’ve had a massive stroke of luck with choosing a pension advisor (contact me if you want his details) and much of my free time (when I’m not snuggled on the couch watching bad TV with a snoring dog) is taken up with socialising , travel and fun.

My issues with my Uncle and Aunt won’t end for a while, nor will the trips to Yorkshire, but…

But.

I know that whatever I do next, it’ll include him. The grumpy little lunatic is mine now.

Intermission

Things have moved on since I last wrote and if you’d have asked me last year when I started this, I’d have been confident that it would all be over by now.

But the problem lingered and getting it all closed was hampered by a deliberate policy on the part of Susan and others to move to a new area for a while if things got too hot with social services and the police. So it was only when Arthur and Shirley moved back to North Yorkshire and he took a turn for the worse that things changed.

Arthur is diabetic and his condition was so badly managed that he ended up in Hospital after collapsing, in a very bad way physically and wearing badly soiled clothing – which prompted social services to move in and take Arthur and Shirley to a care home.

Arthur wasn’t very happy that he’d been moved

But he had no choice, he was in a bad way mentally and physically and his memory was starting to go. As for Shirley, it transpired that she was the bottom person in the twisted hierarchy within the house and was the last person in a strictly controlled toilet rota.

I had always assumed that Shirley was wheelchair-bound as she was never seen outside the house in Middleham but she’s actually quite sprightly when she has her walker (more of this later) and she has full mental capacity, which made her ordeal in the house even worse.

Social Services contacted me

To see if I was still interested in helping and I had a couple of phone calls and a scheduled visit to meet Arthur and Shirley and their care team. Shirley’s hands are badly twisted by arthritis but she is chatty and was quite open in her support for me helping them both out. I spent a few hours chatting to the team and to Arthur and Shirley and we agreed that I would get Lasting Power of Attorney for financial matters. I scheduled another visit to meet them again and waited for the paperwork.

Two weeks ago

I went back to the care home along with a friend and the dog whose name and ID that I’ve stolen. I collected the LPA paperwork and had a visit with Arthur and Shirley, who received her first flowers for many years and watched their faces light up when the dog deigned to let them pet him.

Arthur asked for three things.

An Alarm Clock

A Watch

A trip out in the car.

I promised to go back in a fortnight and ordered the other items for him with Amazon.

Today

We went back to the home, armed with magazines for Shirley and a dapper little dog who immediately greeted them both as friends.

I commented on Arthur’s watch and how nice it looked.

‘It was only cheap’ He said.

‘Erm not that cheap, I bought it’

His face fell for half a second and then broke into a beaming smile.

They were both dressed in their Sunday best and the staff of the care home were all smiles as we led them out to the car.

I rang my Dad from the car and listened with a smile as the two brothers chatted away for a few minutes

We only drove for a few miles

As I wanted to make sure that they had time outside the car and we went to ‘The Railway’ in Richmond, which is a beautifully converted old railway station. We talked of Arthur’s money and the people who have tricked him out of it. I was relaxed and calm and promised that once the LPA is in, I’ll sort what I can as I already have a contact at his bank.

We talked of old neighbours and better times but they were both clear that they never want to see Susan again. I’m going to move them to Cheshire once the money is sorted, so that will never be a problem.

It was good to see Shirley smiling and the look on her face when after telling me that she would like a new walker with a basket to replace one that was lost, I showed her that one would be delivered on Tuesday is something that I’ll treasure. The dog snuggled into her in the back of the car, making her smile even more broadly and I dropped them off with a promise of another visit in two weeks (the other weekend is reserved for visiting my Dad in hospital)

This isn’t over by a long way and the hard work to get their money back from Susan, Lionel, Brett and co. will take a while, but I’m not letting this go now.

I’ve seen them happy and want to keep it that way

Sucker Punch

Almost a year ago on the 12th May 2018; the long running saga of my Uncle’s strange disappearance, the subsequent tracking him down and the twists and turns of dealing with a broken system began.

All of the various updates from True Detective to 28 Weeks Later can be found here:

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

Fast Forward

To today and my Dad is in hospital, there’s a few things wrong with him and he’s not getting any younger. He’s been there for a week now and as I type this, I’ve seen him for the last time for at least a fortnight as I fly out to Malaysia for work tomorrow night.

I had made a promise to my Dad a year ago that he’d see his Brother again but I had to break some bad news to him a few weeks ago.

Here We Go…. Again

Since the last time I spoke to my Uncle, I’ve kept in loose contact with the various people and agencies and he was in Cambridge somewhere for a few months, where; guess what

Yep.

Right first time.

Another social services case.

This time though, I heard from North Yorkshire and they told me that I would be called (if I consented) by a case worker from Cambridgeshire who needed some help.

Another week went by before I was actually called and I had a long conversation with a nice gentleman who basically wanted to know everything that I’d found out and copies of all the evidence that I’d submitted to Police and Social Services.

I agreed to send it and things went quiet again.

Partly because he never sent his email address.

Partly because.

On the Road Again

On the 22nd or 23rd April , they moved back to Middleham, the pattern had repeated again and they surfaced from a taxi and the neighbours could hear the shouting and bawling the moment that they arrived.

I can only imagine how that felt after the peace and quiet that they’d had since December, knowing that the noise and filth had returned and that there was nothing they could do about it.

And then.

On the 24th April 2019

Something Changed

Police and Social Services forced an entry and Arthur and Shirley were taken to a care home.

The local Police Sergeant rang to let me know but Arthur wasn’t willing to talk to anybody.

Susan wasn’t given the address.

She did buy a dog the same day though. £800 apparently, so that’s nice.

A week or so went by and I recieved another call to say that Arthur still didn’t want to talk, but was slowly coming round to the idea.

He had the strange idea that I’m after his money and so’s my Dad. It was pointed out to him that his money is gone (on a long list of things to find out), so that changed things a bit I’m told.

The Hospital

That my Dad is currently in isn’t too bad but it’s a long drive each way and I went to see him yesterday and he talked about getting a will together and a power of attorney signed in case he gets worse. He seems to be improving though, so this is just sensible.

I mailed the Sergeant that I’ve been in contact with and let her know the situation, she actually mailed back pretty quickly but is on leave until Friday. She said she’d get a PC to pop in.

Sucker Punch

My dad called me last night. I expect the worst on every call at the moment and I had a wobble for a few seconds as his voice was cracking and he was near tears.

Arthur had called.

They had a long chat and he and Shirley are delighted to be in the care home. Arthur wants to see my Dad again and I’ll sort that when I get back from Malaysia.

I can’t praise North Yorkshire Police, a certain estate agent and all the friends who helped along the way.

There’s a huge drink in it for you all – and my undying thanks and support if you ever need me.

I made a promise a year ago.

I’m going to keep it.

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.