The Last Detective

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Let’s Recap – Again

It’s all here… But…

True Detective

Chinatown

Breakdown

I got into this because my Aunt died, I’d offered to drive my Dad to the funeral (once the date was announced) and I went to see him to have a chat, but he was more worried about whether my Uncle would turn up.

My Uncle and his wife went missing late last year and all contact was lost, no phone number, no forwarding address and a drive to his house showed that he’d moved.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down Susan Auckland’s family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Susan has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

But in the background I did lots more work and when we got the date of the funeral, I asked Social Services to let him know the date, only to find that they hadn’t seen him so far.

I wrote two letters that cross-referenced each other and bought him a mobile phone, programming my number and my Dad’s number into it.

The first letter said that I would be back on the 2nd June and would take him to Norfolk on the 3rd June if he still wanted to attend the funeral.

The second letter stated that I would call him on Monday.

I then went back to Middleham, staying in a very pleasant hotel for the duration, delivered the phone and letter by hand, caught up with his neighbours and drove home.

Then on the Monday, I called him – the phone was switched off and stayed that way despite me calling and texting every day.

Until Wednesday 30th May.

An Unexpected Call

I use a text programme called Signal to send and receive SMS / Files etc, and I have it set to show me when texts are received, I was surprised then to see a bunch of them go through to the phone, I then got a phone call from my Dad, he sounded angry, hurt and confused.

My Uncle had called him from the phone that I’d bought and in the shortest conversation that anybody can remember, he said that he had an eye problem and that he couldn’t go to the funeral. He still didn’t remember me and seemed vague about the fact that it was his younger sister who was being buried.

I asked my Dad to text me the details so that we had a trail, tried to reassure him with my plan for the weekend and hung up, slightly depressed and more than a bit angry.

I called my Social Services contact with the update and basically brooded for the evening.

Send In The Clowns

Life is strange, the smallest action has repercussions and impacts much further down the line. I’m an occasional shitposter on Twitter but the account is more photos of the dog and nice things these days. I follow a broad cross-section of people and have met a few over the past few years.

Two of these people offered to help and agreed to watch the house for me over the last weekend and beyond to see what happened after I delivered the letter / left the town / went to the funeral.

How photos of a small dog and a bit of piss-taking turns into people offering their time and travel for free can happen I have no idea.

But I’m glad that it did.

And their contribution has changed everything.

I arrived in Middleham late on Saturday afternoon and was joined for dinner by a notorious tambourine thief on Saturday evening and we discussed the events of the day so far.

Because..

Two Hours Earlier

I had hand-delivered a letter to my Uncle.

This is it in full.

Dear Uncle Arthur

I hope that your conjunctivitis is better, I have driven up to Middleham and will be staying over until tomorrow.

Your Sister’s Funeral is on Tuesday 5th June at St Agatha’s Norfolk.

When we met, (with the policeman) you asked if I would drive you there, the answer is still Yes.

If you would still like to come, please call me on 0772 xxxxx , if you cannot attend, I have a condolence card that you can sign if you wish.

Please let me know what you’d like to do.

I will drive us to Norfolk if you do wish to go I have booked a hotel for two nights, it is fully paid for.

I will drive you back after the funeral if you do wish to go, so please pack enough clothes and any prescription drugs for two nights.

Love

I had enclosed the card and hand-written on the note to sign it and deliver it to the hotel by 1pm if he wasn’t going.

As I posted it, I met one of the neighbours.

The Yorkshire Tea Ceremony

He invited me in for a tea and once again, I had to enjoy the attention of their dog – a Rhodesian Ridgeback that thought that I was either a chew-toy or a hump-toy.  It could have been worse I suppose, it kept me alert at any rate.

We had a good chat and caught each other up on what had been happening, they knew that I’d delivered the phone and were surprised to find that it had actually been used. I explained about the letter and took the opportunity to tell them the real news.

My Uncle’s house would be under surveillance during daylight hours as from Sunday and that any strange cars parked up weren’t sinister.

While we chatted, my Uncle’s door opened and a heavy-set, angry-looking woman appeared, she marched out to the road, looked up and down – presumably for my car and then threw something into the skip while we all watched.

It was fairly obvious what it was, but I finished my tea and chatted for quite a bit longer before leaving and wandering to the skip via a roundabout route.

And.

Unsurprisingly.

The item in the skip was indeed the letter to my Uncle, I took photos and the name was clearly visible. I took photos from a few angles and walked back to the hotel strangely happy.

Cracks in the Armour

We discussed the letter and the conversations with the neighbours over dinner, they had given me some new horror stories and life in the house sounds as miserable as I can imagine. There’s no evidence of physical abuse, but it’s clear that only one person in the house is allowed to have a view or a say in anything.

Dinner was excellent, good food and good service – although I had to get rid of the candle that the landlady had put there after I changed my dinner for one to a table for two….

To walk it off and scout out the house, we took some back paths that bring you out to the corner of the road and we took a slow cautious walk through the churchyard to my Uncle’s house, the curtains were closed but interestingly, the letter was gone, either buried in the skip or removed elsewhere. I can only guess that she didn’t want me or perhaps my Uncle to see it.

Either way, this was good, she’d acted in anger, in full view of two impartial witnesses and it felt like a crack that could be widened with the right pressure.

We parted ways and I tried to sleep.

The Third Man

Turned up on Sunday morning, The Tambourine Thief and I had already walked to the house and met the neighbour on the other side of my Uncle’s house. He offered tea and support and we passed a pleasant ten minutes watching racehorses being walked through the town on their way to the Gallops on the Dales.

Middleham is delightful, I can easily imagine it being a great place to retire to, people are friendly, there are four pubs in a small square, the landscape is amazing and they have a castle just above the town centre.

So why would you move here, cut yourself off, not interact with the neighbours and leave your curtains closed all day when you could be looking at the Dales?

These were the questions that occupied us over coffee that morning while we watched the tourists…

At 12, we split up and the man with the most luxurious moustache in Yorkshire began the first shift of watching the house, which left the two of us with an hour to kill before the card was maybe due to arrive

So, we had a wander and drifted into an antique shop.

Awfully Pleasant Presents

Whereby.

I was bought a splendid Silver Jubilee Plate to replace a plate destroyed by Hurricane Saffa.

The Third Man was bought a delightful perfume bottle in the shape of a poodle with a luxuriant moustache.

Meanwhile, while the Tambourine Thief was giggling to himself like some some of deviant, I picked up a small ornament…

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I paid £7 for this stunning piece of artwork and with a jaunty ‘here you go Princess’ I silenced his frankly sinister giggling.

We then settled in to wait.

And nothing happened.

I phoned my Uncle’s number, it didn’t answer.

I sent a string of disappointed texts. No response.

At 13:30 I drove off, leaving the town behind in the care of my two friends.

Just a note here, they refused to take any money or payment of any kind, not for food, petrol, beer, anything. My suggestion that I should do this was dismissed as ‘Noncery’.

So I don’t use words like ‘friends’ lightly, I have very few people that I call that and I’m proud to add these two.

On the Road Again.

I drove to Norfolk, the landscape gradually flattening out into wide open grasslands and then wetlands, but always staggeringly beautiful.

England is an amazing place to drive through, there’s beauty and history wherever you look and the view changes so quickly that a 3 hour drive felt like an hour.

I stopped once for coffee but was keen to see what updates – if any there were from Bodie and Doyle.

I arrived at my hotel parked my car 100 feet from the water and checked in.

Ugh.

What a dump, I’m going to skip over the hotel with a succinct review.

Poor food, bad service, stairs patched with duct tape, awful room, crappy beer and food poisoning.

HOW MUCH? HOW FUCKING MUCH?

Nothing else happened in Middleham on Sunday, except an unexpected result that I’ll put down to Karma or something. I don’t know.

Anyway.

Remember the £7 sand castle?

An identical one is on eBay – bidding was at £893 on Sunday evening, not bad for a bit of slightly gay tat bought as a wind-up. (2020 note. This was a wind-up. Wankers)

Meanwhile

In the world outside, I had a few beers with my cousin on Sunday.

I haven’t seen him for, well, I don’t know. We talked about anything and everything and I was surprised and pleased to find that I really liked him, I put him in a cab and we agreed to meet with his Dad and brother the next day for dinner.

I Don’t Like Mondays

Food poisoning took up most of the day for me, along with work and conference calls.

Cagney and Lacey spotted a fire surround, a TV and some patio furniture being delivered from a hospice van, before Lacey left to go back to real life, leaving just one man to watch the house for just one more day before real life would kick in again.

I had a nice dinner with the family and told the story so far before heading back to the hotel where I had drinks with my Cousin’s sons, who turned out to be excellent company and I told the story again over lots of gin until they threw us out of the bar.

Tuesday was the day of the funeral and I went to bed and again slept badly.

Tyrsday

Is one of the many old names for Tuesday, I’m going to let you look up the god Tyr for yourself, but it’s appropriate, I promise.

I went to my Aunt’s house, it’s in a stunning location and had a cup of tea before driving to the funeral.

I had a chance to catch up with a few more relatives and was quite relaxed on the way as it was still morning and IF anything was going to happen at the house, it’d be PM.

My Dad had arrived first and he looked dreadful, gaunt and drained and it’s clear that losing his sister and possibly his brother was eating him alive.

I didn’t see much of him, just gave him an update that the house was still being watched and some vague reassurances that made my teeth itch to say them.

The funeral was nice, beautifully done and went without any drama.

He left to go home and I went back to the house for another cup of tea.

While I was there I spoke to my Dad’s cousin who walked up to me, gave me a hug and said ‘You’re the Investigator’.

I may have blushed.

She told me that she and her sister had also lost touch, confirming that my Uncle was indeed completely isolated.

And then at 13:15 – it all changed.

The Last Detective

Followed a taxi from my Uncle’s house to Leyburn and watched them wander around for a while before Susan went to a hairdresser and my Uncle wandered off and was lost to sight.

A few minutes later, he found my Uncle in a cafe, managed to get a photo of him and then actually struck up a conversation with him.

He’s written a report for me on the conversation, there’s no standout admission that he’s being abused, but the transcript verifies everything that we thought and more.

Much More.

I told my Dad about this yesterday and I could hear the pain dropping away for a few seconds before realisation kicked in that the situation really is bad.

But…. I now have the report and after sobbing my heart out for a few minutes, I sent it to Leyburn Police and North Yorkshire Social Services (they knew that it was coming) .

It’s heartbreaking stuff and I think that it’s going to make my Dad cry or scream when I read it to him later, but it’s evidence that nobody else has managed to get, an interview that nobody else has managed to get and it’s going to change everything.

A Few Good Men

This isn’t over by a long way, I think it may have to go to the Court of Protection, but I’ve already done the paperwork. I can see some some of light ahead now.

I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in a few weeks and sad that the system can’t quite fit together despite a lot of good people.

But…

I have no words for my friends right now, they have my loyalty until the day I die and I can never repay them.

2020 update.

One of these men is the awesome Geoff Turner – a police diver and armed response veteran.

Self-effacing and one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. I’m proud to be his friend.

Buy his book if you can. It’s a cracking read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Flight-Geoff-Turner-ebook/dp/B08KSH4WG2

To Be Continued

 

 

Breakdown

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Yesterdays

Ok, if you haven’t read True Detective and Chinatown I’ll recap.

My Uncle and his wife went missing and all contact was lost.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May 2018 and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

I managed to track down ‘Sharon’s’ family – they live about ten miles away from my Uncle’s place and I spoke to Estate Agents, Essex Social Services and North Yorkshire Social Services.

The Picture that was emerging was quite scary, one person who had been in quite close contact said that in their view, Sharon has some real mental problems.

The Social Services net is so loose that they literally moved away from one open case and disappeared from view.

I agreed to let Social Services do the contact as this is just so complicated.

And so we move on.

You can’t put your arms around a memory

Deep down, I already know how this ends.

And it doesn’t end well for anybody.

Especially Me.

But I’ll play the game out to the bitter end, knowing that the right thing to do is also painful, fraught with anguish and may break the people I’m trying to save.

Maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see in a month or two.

Patience

I got the funeral date from my Dad last week and also spoke to my cousin who’s making all the arrangements and tried to explain how things were. It wasn’t easy.

My Dad is quite despondent about all this, I think that he thinks that he’ll never see his brother again, I’m determined that he will, but it may not be soon.

I made all the right noises to my dad and left a message for the assigned Social Services worker with all the details and a request to:

  • Let My Uncle know the funeral date
  • That I would pick him up from the Black Bull next Sunday, 3rd June and that we would then drive to Norfolk.

I’m two months into a new job and strike action in France and issues in Colombia along with a twelve hour journey into London and back for meetings kept me busy for a few days so I didn’t chase until Thursday.

When I finally had a conversation with the Case Worker.

It wasn’t good.

Double Talking Jive

First the good news, Healthcare staff were going into the house a few times a week and some rubbish clearing had been done (they filled a skip up) .

The older ladies in the house are healthy and they’ve all been told not to keep the curtains closed all day.

And that’s it for the good news.

Susan is very hostile to the Social Workers and won’t allow them into the house, no mental health assessment has been done on my uncle yet and they’re taking it all slowly in case they run again..

I feel for these guys, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t but this wasn’t helping me at all.

We chatted

‘So what you’re saying is that I can’t get a message to my Uncle to tell him when the funeral is?’

‘Unfortunately no, at this stage we can’t get past the lady’

‘The one that we all reported as being a potential abuser?’

‘Yes, I’m sorry, maybe if you sent a letter…?’

‘That she would likely open and not give to my Uncle…’

‘Yes, sorry’…

We talked for a while longer about whether I should have Power of Attorney, everybody thinks I should, but – and there’s always a but…..

My Uncle would have to sign that over to me.

I hung up, depressed and angry that one woman could have this sort of power over us all.

Ain’t it Fun

The letter idea wasn’t the worst idea in the world, it was how to execute it so that I can use it as evidence if Susan didn’t play nicely.

So..

I bought a mobile phone for ‘Old People’

And a Sim

I prepaid it with £30 of credit and I programmed it up, testing it by calling my number and my Dad’s and making an incoming call to test calls both ways.

And I wrote two letters.

Here they are.. only the names and numbers have changed.

‘Dear Uncle Arthur
Your Sister’s Funeral is on Tuesday 5th June in Norfolk.
When we met, (with the policeman) you asked if I would drive you there, the answer is still Yes.
I will collect you from the Black Bull on Sunday 3 rd June at 4pm and will drive us to Norfolk.
We will stay in a hotel for two nights – I will book and pay.
I will drive you back after the funeral, so please pack enough clothes and any prescription drugs for two nights.
In the other envelope, is a mobile phone. It is yours and is fully paid for.
I have given the number to your brother, my Dad, he would very much like to speak to you again.
My Number and his number are in the phone and already programmed.

I will call you at 12PM on Monday to make sure that we can finalise the arrangments

Love’

‘Dear Uncle Arthur
This is your phone. It is fully paid for.
The Number is 0795x xxxxxx

To unlock, press and hold the # key
To turn it on, press and hold the red key
My number and My Dad’s are in the phone, press the key
below NAMES to bring them up.
MY NUMBER IS 0772 xxxxxx
Your Brother’s Number is 078 xxxxxx 
Your Brother In Law’s House Number is 0xxxxxxx

I will speak to you on Monday at 12pm

Love’

I printed them and put the phone, charger and letter into one envelope and the other letter into a different envelope, I wrote his name in huge text and then went to the next stage,

Mr Brownstone

I was never fully convinced as to whether this plan would work, but by this stage, I was thinking of move and countermove, if I did this, what would Susan do next – and what would I do after that?

So I booked a hotel for Saturday – It was the Wyvill Arms and I have to say that it was absolutely lovely, if you’re in that area, it’s money well spent. Then on Saturday morning, I took a slow, painful drive across The Pennines on a bank holiday weekend, arriving in Middleham at around 1pm.

I parked uphill from the house, took the envelopes from the car, set my phone to record a video and walked up the path.

Dust and Bones

I could see an old lady asleep in a chair in the lounge window and I put the first of my letters through the letterbox.

I couldn’t get the phone through as the charger was too big, so I left it by the door, very visible, with my Uncle’s name in large script on the envelope.

I’d been recording all this time and on a whim, I turned my phone towards the window as I walked away so that I could view it later.

The old lady may have stirred, but she was asleep again as I passed.

I got into the car and drove to Leyburn for some lunch before going to the hotel.

Welcome to The Jungle

I have a theory about Susan , I’ve talked to so many people who’ve had dealings with her and my overriding impression is one of arrogance and a sense of her own superiority.

Here’s the thing though, people who think they’re smart very often aren’t and if you use the power of the state as a weapon against other people, then don’t be surprised if it backfires.

The best thing that she actually did was to call the police on me, if I’d got access for 10 minutes, arranged the funeral and done a bit of driving, this would likely vanish into the middle distance again.

But she didn’t, she treated me like some sort of embarrassing lackey to be removed by her footmen and she now has my full attention.

Everything that I show and post is also being put into a file that I’ll be using in a week or two if things go as badly as I suspect, so the photo below is two things.

The first thing is a nice view, taken using the rather nifty OS Maps app, which puts an augmented reality overlay on the photo. Middleham is over to the right of the photo.

The second thing is a small piece of evidence (along with invoices) that I was in the area, at my own cost and that any statements I make further down the line are backed up.

DeIVdl3XUAAVYBA.jpg-large

The Garden

As I mentioned earlier, the hotel is rather splendid and a good meal, with wine, beer and a XO or two made the troubles of the day melt away before I crashed into a strange disturbed sleep with some elements of the day popping into my consciousness at odd stages.

Including…

A screenshot I’d taken from my delivery video earlier in the day, I hadn’t seen him, but he was also asleep on a chair, surrounded by clutter and looking very frail. Only he and the old lady were in the room.

I woke at 4am and just lay there and read a book until it was time for breakfast, before getting in the car and taking another quick trip to Middleham before getting back on the road again.

Right Next Door to Hell

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the thousands of words that I’ve written now, but it doesn’t matter.

My Uncle’s neighbours on both sides are absolutely lovely, genuine people who would have looked out for them as neighbours and brought them into a close-knit community of mostly retired people.

That’s never going to happen while Susan lives there.

I parked opposite the neighbour higher up the hill to my Uncle and was immediately called over and invited in for tea.

We chatted for quite a while and I can’t say enough nice things about them, working class people who saved for their retirement, living a life overlooking the Dales, with regular pub visits, walks, cheap lunches in the social centre and a weekly ‘lads’ night out for the husband.

They told me horror stories of screaming, shouting and abuse – all from Susan directed at the others in the house.

I told them that I’d tracked their history and her family and I was quietly pleased with myself when they said that a car with distinctive number plates had been present during their move and also to take them away when they disappeared at New Year. I correctly predicted the distinctive letters (it’s Susan’s brother’s initials) and they told me that they’d seen the car in Ripon.

Susan apparently treats my Uncle like a porter and drags him behind her carrying huge bags of shopping while she marches in front of him.

My new friends, no stranger to booze were shocked at the sheer volume of wine bottles that the house produces – pretty good considering that my Uncle has been teetotal all his life.

They owe money to every tradesman in town and are blacklisted by the plumber and the TV shop, not bad given that they’ve only lived there two months out of six.

I had a quick wander down the slope and rang the mobile quickly (twice) – it rang but I couldn’t hear it, so it wasn’t in the skip.

They gave me one last snippet before I left, Susan was berating my Uncle to keep something tidy ‘for the Estate Agent’..

I drove home, another five hours in the car and waited until 12pm today.

Get in The Ring

I rang the phone, the phone that I bought for my Uncle. 

It was switched off, yesterday it rang.

I’ve tried six times now, it’s switched off every time.

I don’t think he ever got it.

That’s OK though, I’ve booked a hotel for next Saturday night in town, I’ll put another letter through the door about the arrangements, I may even get a neighbour to knock and deliver it to him personally if I can.

I’ve booked two rooms for Norfolk.

I have a paper trail.

I have money and will never need a penny from my Uncle.

I have friends.

I have a plan.

Watch this space to see if I can actually get him to the funeral.

It doesn’t matter if I can’t.

I have a plan for this game, I know where every other player is on the board now and nobody can move without me knowing, so they can’t disappear again.

I have a plan.

Susan, I’m coming for you.

 

Chinatown

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This is How You Remind Me

If you haven’t read True Detective

My Uncle and his wife went missing and all contact was lost.

My Aunt, his sister died on the 9th May and we had to try to track him down.

We found his solicitor, in Leyburn North Yorkshire and he asked my Uncle to call my Dad – which he did, from an unknown mobile, on the evening of Sunday 13th May, with a strange rambling tale that included:

  • He didn’t know or wouldn’t say his full address – just the house number and not even a town.
  • His driving licence had been revoked by the Police – he didn’t know why
  • Social Services may have visited and said that he shouldn’t live alone. Although he clearly didn’t – there were three women in the house with him, his wife and two others.
  • His bank account might have been frozen and he had no money and no car
  • He would send his details to my Dad  – by post – at some point.

I rang the owner of the mobile  – somebody unknown to the family and asked for the address – she refused.

I drove to Leyburn on Monday, tracked the house, did a property search to confirm that it was indeed my Uncle’s place and rang the bell.

Only to have the Police called on me.

Many hours later, I’d seen my Uncle, discovered that his mind is partway gone and that he doesn’t remember my whole existence.

I raised a safeguarding concern on Tuesday this week with North Yorkshire Social Services and was informed that the Police had also done so.

Carry On My Wayward Son

It’s not any clearer now.

The Song Remains The Same

The whole situation is weird – strange women appearing from nowhere and co-owning a house with a vulnerable old couple.

In the absence of any updates from Social Services, it was time to look at how they’d got there. So it was time to search the web and make phone calls, lots and lots of phone calls.

The electoral roll showed Another Woman living in my Uncle’s old house – but not Susan, she didn’t appear in any searches.

The other lady had lived in two houses almost a street away from my Uncle over the past ten years and had suddenly appeared as living with them in the last electoral roll.

Alice? Alice? Who The Fuck is Alice?

Who was this woman, was she related to Susan, why was everything to do with this so difficult to track down? Web searches will only get you so far and I hit a brick wall, so I mailed the Police asking them if the older lady in the house with my Uncle was indeed ‘Ada’

Because.

Ada doesn’t have a daughter named Susan.

She has two other daughters that are the wrong age.

I got a reply from the police that said they’d look into it, but that’s really as far as I could go..

Unless…

I started making some phone calls, but where to start?

Oh yes.

Him…

Sympathy For The Devil

It must be tough being a solicitor these days, you have the whole duty of care to your client(s), Data Protection, GDPR and your reputation to think about at all times.

So this call must have been tough.

‘Hi, we met on Monday and spoke about my Uncle’

A pause.

‘Yes, what can i do for you?’

A longer pause.

‘Well, two things actually, a strange question for you and a statement that I’d like you to take in’

Another pause.

‘O.. Kaaay’ 

First, can you confirm for me that the older lady in the house is Ada Postlethwaite?’

‘It is Susan’s mother I’m not at liberty to confirm her name.’

I explained the web searches, the electoral roll and the strangeness of one person with a different name appearing at the old address. He explained that he couldn’t divulge the other lady’s name but that it.

Was

Not

Ada

I took a moment to wonder what was going on, hours and hours of searching had gone into this and it was very strange.

‘OK, thank you, here’s the second part, you were very helpful in not telling me anything the other day and I found them by 930. Sadly Susan called the Police on me and after a very long chat, I got to see my Uncle.’

A pause.

‘So what you should know, given our conversation and your thoughts on his mental state, is that he’s showing clear signs of dementia, doesn’t remember me AT ALL, in fact he thought I was my Dad, he couldn’t explain why he’d moved there, said he thought it might be a mistake came out with a load more concerning statements.

‘Where are you going with this?’

‘Nowhere, this is a heads-up as you’ve been so helpful, both I and the Police Officer who attended have opened Safeguarding cases independently and the Police and Social Services are now involved.’

Another long pause.

‘So in the interests of being open, I’m not dropping this at all and the next few weeks and months will likely see some changes. Thanks very much. Have a good day’

*CLICK*

Dark Side of The Moon

I was feeling quite stabby by this point, a whole day spent looking for a woman who may have been an error on an electoral roll.

A woman who had lived a street over previously in two separate houses..

Weird

The next step..

What could it be?

One Way Or Another

I called the estate agents in Essex and on my second call, I got through to the selling agents.

They were so helpful and remembered the case very well.

I’m not surprised.

It transpired that both Susan and my Uncle had put their property up for sale at the same time last year, with her flat – in the next town, selling months before my Uncle’s sale went through.

The estate agents were concerned enough about the proposed move to Leyburn that they asked my uncle multiple times and logged each conversation. His responses were always vaguely ‘yes’ and involved a ‘new start’ .

His wife was in hospital for months during this period and the estate agent mentioned that social services also became involved.

Data Protection (yes, that again) meant that they couldn’t tell me much more.

Except.

They could give opinions.

Susan had mental problems, in their opinion and they were concerned that this sale of the two properties and the move North would be a bad thing.

I hung up, thinking much better of estate agents than I ever did (there’s a theme developing here)

And..

Call Me

I rang Essex Social Services, in truth, this was frustrating as our old friend Data Protection became the wall that it’s supposed to be. In fairness, I could be anybody trying to get enough data to do some bad things.

So.

They couldn’t confirm or deny that a case existed.

But  – if it did it might be closed.

They said they’d call me back.

True to their word, they did and quite quickly too. But the answer was a flat NO, unless North Yorkshire called them.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Another web search and Susan was found.

She’d lived with somebody likely to be her mother- Barbara as it turns out, in a flat one town away and previously near Hereford.

The older lady is definitely her mother, she’s around 90 or so and Susan was no older than 63 or so.

This was a touch scary, a very strange woman who may not have lived alone or with others is now effectively head of an extended household.

Oh yes, people that have met her think she has mental problems.

Hanging On The Telephone

I’ve spent two days ringing North Yorkshire, I also had a couple of update calls from a neighbour of my Uncle.

They told me that Police and Social Services had visited when my Uncle and Sharon had gone out and managed to get in – and that after they had left and Susan/ my Uncle had returned, shouting was heard where Susan stated that:

I’m in charge of this house, nobody is allowed in without my say so’

Anyway, today…

Nothing Else Matters

I finally got a call from Social Services and the Police, all of them round a single phone. They told me that a team has been put together, they have another meeting on Monday to formulate a plan and that they are returning to the house today.

I asked that they keep in touch and that they find a way for me to arrange the funeral (still no date) through them and NOT Susan.

So:

All good.

Except:

All Along The Watchtower

They knew NOTHING of what I’d learned, no previous Social Services contact, the previous house, NOTHING.

I spent twenty minutes telling them things and we killed the call.

The system isn’t right, it can’t be.

But…

The support I’ve had from Twitter (three people in particular, you know who you are), the decency of the police, social services and estate agents has given me a new faith in people and I can give my Dad updates that don’t hurt as much as they might.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When bad science fiction gets too close for comfort

I wrote this.  A long, long time ago, or that’s the way that 1998 seems to me now.

It eventually ended up in a collection of equally appalling short stories that are available on Kindle under my real name.

I’m not trying to sell it..

When I wrote it, I borrowed from other dystopian stories and added a grim twist.

And now. This week, fiction is hard to tell from reality.

Anyway.

Anybody want to take a bet on the whole thing being real in a few years?

 

Mik darted into a doorway as the poli-cruiser hummed past, red and blue lights blinking their danger signals into his eyes. He wasn’t wanted for anything, it was just an instinctive reaction, similar to an octopus darting under a rock at the first sign of a big fish.

He waited for a few minutes, just in case they decided to pull him in for routine questioning, which always left him bruised and bleeding, and then carried on walking.

Mik was tall, around the two metre mark, and very thin. His blonde hair was thinning and hung in greasy ropes around his shoulders. He dressed well, as befitted a member of his profession, and was one of the lucky few who could afford real leather shoes.

Thanks to a friend, he never had to stand in line for food, or even meat. Although this was not much of a consideration these days, as he was unable to hold anything down for any length of time.

As he walked, he constantly scanned the street, eyes flicking left and right with the regularity of a metronome.

“Mik.”  A whispered call from a shop doorway.

He turned slowly, carefully making his face impassive. George, an old customer.

“Yeah, What’re you after?”

“What’ve you got?”

“Something very special, been banned for years now, one of the first ever to be banned as a matter of fact, just possession of this will be enough for six months in a cube.”

George’s eyes gleamed at this exciting snippet, moisture beading on his top lip.

“What is it? Come on, hurry up.”

Mik, in command now, reached slowly into one of his hidden pockets and found what he was looking for.

Waved his hand in front of George’s eyes, too fast to follow, the contents of his fist a blur.

He grinned, George was hooked.

Slowly he opened his fist and displayed the treasure held within.

George was openly sweating now. “How much?” He asked, voice trembling.

“Four hundred ecu’s to you, being as I know you that is.”

“Okay, okay, here’s the money, hand it over.”

Mik moved like lightning, snatching the small plastic coins from George’s hand with the speed of a striking cobra, and only then did he hand George his prize.

” A real classic that is, first film that Michael Caine ever made as a matter of fact, not many people know that.”

George smiled blankly, oblivious to the world, all he could think of was going home and watching his black-market copy of Zulu.

Mik shrugged his shoulders and walked away, there was no point carrying on the conversation, besides, he was going to the happy clinic soon, and he didn’t want to be late.

He checked his pockets as he walked, running a quick inventory of his stock, more copies of Zulu, Waterloo, The Dam Busters, Henry V, 633 Squadron, The Battle of Britain, the list ran on and on. Most of these films had been banned since 2020, when the EGov had decreed that “Offensive Imperialist Propaganda” would be banned.

This was not a move aimed exclusively at Britain, rather an across the board removal of each member state’s military past. Some subjects were removed from school curriculums, for example the First and Second World Wars were not even obliquely referred to, the same applied to Napoleon’s rape of Europe and Nazi Germany’s attempt to eradicate all “Untermenschen”.

This attempt to somehow lessen the old hatreds between the member states, predictably, did not succeed. The French still hated the English and were coldly polite to the Germans, The Germans still harboured a festering dislike for Britain, as did the Italians. The British still hated almost everybody, with especial venom reserved for the Ancient Enemy, the French. 

People in authority denied that these hatreds still existed, or in fact, had ever existed. But, every summer, coach loads of young men made the trip through the Channel Tunnel and kicked the shit out of people on the other side.

These incidents, often involving hundreds of people, never once made the nightly news programmes. Neither did stories of unemployment or crime, except when the crime rate went up more slowly than the year previously.

In 2018, the EGov decided upon a policy of trying to keep civil unrest to a minimum, therefore, certain news items were banned, crime, unemployment (currently standing at 97,000,000), pollution and Global Warming.

Alongside this policy, the Happy Clinics were opened. For a small amount of money, people could go along to the clinics and take the drugs of their choice.

This accomplished two things very quickly, the first that drug dealers were driven out of business almost overnight. The second was that the number of addicts skyrocketed, and now stood at a staggering 200,000,000.

A side effect of this was that drug-related crime dropped almost to nothing, just the occasional knife or axe-murder committed under the influence. These incidents also never made the news.

Mik was unconscious of most of these decisions, the only one that he was aware of involved the banning of films and books, and he didn’t sell books, too big and bulky. No, give him a mini-vid any day, small, compact and easily erasable with the coat that he wore. This had thousands of strands of wire all connected to a power cell, that when activated by a simple voice command, turned his coat into a powerful electro-magnet.

He drifted along through the crowds, still scanning for potential trouble, occasionally glancing up at the video cameras positioned on strategic rooftops, eyes squinting against the yellow sky.

He was sweating himself now, body reacting to the pressure of the sale. He tried to slow his heart rate down, he was losing weight all the time these days. He wondered if he should mention it to the doctor at the Happy Clinic.

He decided against it, they might want him to cut down on the number of visits that he made. He was up to two hits a day now, heroin followed by crack cocaine at each visit.

He really was getting hot now, sure that he couldn’t remember a January being so hot, it was almost thirty degrees today.

And getting hotter.

A thin trickle of sweat ran down the back of his neck, down his back and spread out across the base of his spine. Making him sticky and uncomfortable, his mouth was getting dry and he had the beginnings of a headache.

He decided to go for a drink before he went to the Happy Clinic, a couple of large vodkas was always a good base for the drugs.

The pub, as usual, was packed. It took Mik what seemed like ages before he could fight his way through to the bar, nobody seemed to mind being pushed aside these days, idly, Mik wondered if they were putting something in the booze.

In fact they were.

Two years ago it had been decided to drastically cut the duty on alcohol, it was also decided to add a harmless tranquilliser. This meant that more people could afford to drink, it also cut down on the possibility of violence, and most importantly, it nipped in the bud any thoughts of “what are the EGov doing about unemployment, crime, poverty…….”

Most people, after a few hours in the bars and taverns had no more thought processes than a homing pigeon.

To save time, Mik ordered a quadruple round of treble vodkas, sinking the first one before the second had even been poured. He paid the surly looking barman and fought his way out to the “beer garden”, which had been covered over with a super hard plastic many years ago.

After a careful look round at the other customers, he casually laid out a neat row of vids on the bench in front of him. He wasn’t too worried about the police, the euro commissioners scared him more, they had almost unlimited powers of arrest and seizure of goods. Within five minutes, a large part of his stock had gone and he was several thousand ecu’s richer.

And quite drunk.

Unsteadily, he made his way out onto the street and just stood there for a moment, trying to remember where he was going to next. Just stood there in the reflected yellow glow from the windows, mouth open and slack. Looking almost like a dummy in a shop window, except that dummies didn’t drool.

After a while, an image of white coats and needles fought it’s way into his drugged brain and he shuffled off like an old, old man towards the Happy Clinic.

He arrived ten minutes later and sat in the waiting room with all the other people, hundreds of them.  He suddenly realised that he couldn’t remember walking there from the pub, had only a vague recollection of moving among a swaying sea of blurred faces. Didn’t even remember sitting down.

He was worried.

He was forgetting more and more lately. He made a mental note to cut down on the booze, he vaguely remembered reading something about it killing brain cells. Drugs were ok though, the EGov had published a report on the beneficial properties of all the major drugs dispensed at the Happy Clinics.

Mik stood up and stretched, rubbed gently at his temples, the headache was still with him, it even seemed a little worse. He looked at the number that he’d been given and compared it to the number currently showing on the monitor above him, just under two hundred to go. Roughly ten minutes. He hoped that he could last that long.

The Happy Clinic was enormous, at any one time; at least thirty doctors were on duty and giving people their dosages. This particular clinic had at one time been a small hospital. It still retained a vaguely hospital-like air about it as doctors and nurses bustled busily about and porters carried the too-far-gone to the front door, where they were dumped.

Mik was starting to get itchy now, the spiders of withdrawal starting to climb all over his body, he tried not to start scratching, knowing that if he did, he’d not be able to stop for hours.

He waited.

And waited.

After what seemed an eternity of the spiders crawling over his flesh, even seeming to creep inside his eyeballs, his number came up on the monitor. Taking his ticket from the grim, unsmiling, security guard, he made his way to room number thirty four.

There was no need to knock, his image was being displayed on the closed circuit monitor inside and compared to a database. This process only took a few seconds and the steel door hissed open.

The doctor was waiting.

Poised over his monitor, Doctor Hamilton looked the very essence of a professional medical man. Crisp white coat, desk neatly laid out, hi-tech monitoring and test equipment surrounding his desk.

Only two things spoiled the look, his cold, cold blue eyes and the bucket of blood-filled used syringes behind him.

“Hello Mik, how’s business?” The question was friendly yet innocent. Professional.

It terrified Mik.

“Oh…. Not that great at the moment….. But it’s picking up. Honest.”

“No it’s not, I was talking to Feo the other day, he said that you’ve been ordering less and less each month. Maybe it’s time that you cut down on this a bit.” Gesturing to the syringes and drug cabinets.

“It’s not that… It’s just that I’ve not been feeling that great for a while now, I don’t know why.”

The doctor’s eyes narrowed, taking in Mik’s appearance fully.

“Yes you do look a bit thin, perhaps we’d better do a blood test. Give me your arm.”

Mik, knowing that it would be pointless to resist, held out a scarred left arm fro the testing unit.

A brief whir of machinery, a sudden sharp pain in his elbow joint, and the machine began its work.

The doctor hummed quietly to himself, Mik sweated.

The display changed, row upon row of figures traversing the screen, reflecting in the cold eyes of the doctor. Coming to a halt. Giving an instant diagnosis.

“Oh dear Mik, this doesn’t look very good at all, perhaps you’d like a small hit of a cocktail before I tell you the bad news?”  Already knowing the answer, preparing a syringe with practised hands.

Mik just sat there, too frightened to ask, and too frightened to do anything except hold his arm out for the injection that would give him the courage to hear the bad news.

He hoped that it wasn’t AIDS, everything else was curable, except AIDS. If that’s what it turned out to be, he’d kill that fucking bitch Martine.

Slowly, the drugs cut in and he felt their calmness spreading through his mind.

“OK, tell me the worst, it’s not AIDS is it ?” His voice seemed wrong, slower, deeper than it should be.

“No, not AIDS, you’ve got cancer of the liver and bowels.”

Mik sighed in relief. Curable.

“What are you smiling at Mik?” The voice was cold, detached.

“Curable.” His voice was slower now, but happy-sounding.

“No. I’m afraid not. We gave up on cancer research twenty years ago.”

Mik could feel panic building up in his head. He couldn’t move his arms or legs.

Or his head.

All he could move were his eyes; he looked at the doctor, who seemed to be smiling.

“As I was saying, there were too many new cancer causing factors around, chemical spillage, air pollution, solar radiation, nuclear radiation. You name it and it was on the increase. So we started doing this.”

He waved the syringe through the air.

“This….. Used to be called a Hot Shot, but these days we just call it Option Three.”

Mik couldn’t see, he could only hear. And his hearing was fading fast.

“It was the best solution really. Cheap, quick, effective. Much better than raising people’s hopes with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. This way you just disap……”

A button was pushed and two burly porters, lobotomized to make their work easier for them to live with, came in and removed the body. Then took it to the sealed-off rear part of the clinic for incineration.

Another button pushed.

A new patient.

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of Gary Lineker

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Gary seems to have had quite the damascene conversion in the past few months, he’s an open critic of Brexit and has had a go at trolling Donald Trump

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No. Scratch that, he’s becoming obsessive about Trump, and hardly a day goes by without a mention of how awful / evil he is.

Gary has now taken to the streets and is marching in solidarity with something or other along with other great thinkers like Lily Allen.

What’s caused this amazing change in his outlook? In my cynical little mind, there’s only two possible reasons that a man with a reputed £31m fortune and a TV career can have for this.

Cherchez la Femme and Follow the Money.

Let’s start with Cherchez la Femme

The expression comes from the 1854 novel “The Mohicans of Paris” by Alexandre Dumas.

Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! Cherchez la femme !

Meaning; whatever the problem may be, a woman is the cause, A new girlfriend, an angry ex, a mistress – whatever.

Gary seems quite open in his private life these days and a quick trawl through the horrors of the tabloid internet doesn’t show any new relationships, so unless he has a new, very young, politically active girlfriend, this doesn’t seem to be the reason.

Maybe we should try Follow the Money.

In the immortal words of Lester Freamon from The Wire, “You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the fuck it’s gonna take you”.

Before we do though, here’s a short list of the things that Gary has spoken out about recently:

  • Immigration- the ‘Children’ who came through Calais.
  • Brexit
  • Trump
  • Nigel Farage
  • Press Regulation – he hates the Sun

Quite the list really, marking him out as a truly modern, left-leaning, liberal sort of multimillionaire.

Curiously, Gary has stayed clear of only one major story in the past few months – and I’d actually be happy to see him come out in support of the victims.

The story gets bigger week by week and very few footballers have made any comment at all, but Wayne Rooney was vocal from the first few days. screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-11-17-43

The Metropolitan Police force released a statement revealing that 255 cases of abuse in London (just London) teams have been reported, relating to individuals at 77 clubs.

The sex abuse claims include all five Premier League teams as well as three Championship teams, three League One and Two teams and 66 other named clubs.

The force refused to disclose the names of the clubs involved or the nature of the allegations against each club.

But the city’s top teams believed to be involved are Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Crystal Palace.

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A massive story in fact – With Gary having played for two of the clubs now named.

Still maybe his silence is just him being sensitive and thoughtful, because he’s not the type to mindlessly opine about something on Twitter is he?

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Or perhaps he’s helping the police by quietly pointing out the people that he suspected when he was a player. That would be nice too.

In the meantime, he continues to pontificate on international politics and appears to be regressing back to the student activist that he never was.

He recently hosted ‘Have I Got News for You’ and managed to annoy a percentage of the population who still watch the BBC with a joke about Brexit voters being dead in 10 years, and maybe, just maybe, this is where the new persona is taking him.

Lineker is a freelancer to the BBC, although his work is almost exclusively for them these days, so it’s likely a tax arrangement which also enables him to sell crisps, rather than a desire to stay independent.

He’s building a media profile up with Twitter, interviews in the foreign press

and marching on the streets to protest things that will never affect him.

Can a new chat-show with a political slant and early guests such as Charlotte Church and Lily Allen be far behind?

 

Framing the discussion

I went to my first ever Christmas Lights switch on last night, which given that I’ll be 54 tomorrow, came as a bit of a surprise to me. I’ve never been a great proponent of Christmas, I can take or leave the whole present thing, but it’s always been a good time for Family, meals, booze and a good laugh.

More of the lights later.

Let’s talk about me for a bit.

For the first ten years of my life, my family lived in the East End of London, a place that was undergoing rapid changes in demographics and culture. Which, to be fair, is what the East End has always done, with generations of immigrants moving out to make a place for the next batch.

It was a harsh and hard place, I learned to fight and fight hard at a very early age, the first time that another boy pulled a knife on me was when I was nine years old. I’d just had a trial with the England Judo team, he didn’t stand a chance.

By the age of ten, I was fighting fifteen year olds and sometimes winning.For my parents, it was time to move out, we were becoming a minority in the area anyway and the promised land of Essex was calling.

However;before you start thinking that this is about race, my first curries came from a neighbour named Mrs Hewitt, whose family had come from the West Indies, she made huge bowls and brought them to our house, because she could and because we loved them.

I still think of her occasionally and hope that her life remained as sunny and pleasant as she made other people’s.

My parents had lived through the war and the ‘Germans’ were still the enemy in the abstract, although one of my godfathers had been a Luftwaffe fighter pilot who’d done enough to earn the Iron Cross.

Television was only three channels and the press gave you your opinions – unless you had a massive curiosity about the world and read book after book after book, as I did through my teens.

Still, attitudes become ingrained and the Germans would be ‘teutonically efficient’ and ‘humourless’ in my mind for many years to come.

The North of England would remain a wasteland in my jaundiced view for even longer. This view not being changed after visits to hellholes such as Hull, Doncaster, Rochdale, the list goes on.

Mind you Luton is hideous, as is Basildon and London is now almost a lost city, the Tower Hamlets of my youth when I delivered milk with my Dad to the sink estates is now a foreign land.

I learned both French and German at school and with a few days immersion, can navigate my way around both menu and conversations (particularly in German) well enough  that German colleagues no longer speak German in front of me, just in case.

And after many years of avoiding the place, I went to Germany, Specifically Hamburg on a work related trip and fell in love with the country, everything that I thought I knew was disproved on an hourly basis, Berlin is now one of my favourite places in the world.

In the past five years, I’ve worked a lot in the North of England (as well as India, Germany, Malaysia and Australia) and slowly but surely, my attitudes have changed. Rochdale is still a hellhole, as are many of the surrounding towns and the less said about places like Rotherham the better.

Guess what?

I was wrong about the North too.

I now live in Nantwich, I moved here for work, but plan to stay. My current job means that I have to work in London now, but I have no plans to move back to the beautiful South.

The pace of life here suits me, the town is reminiscent of 1960s towns everywhere but has ensured that all of the good things about traditional English market towns have been retained.

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People are friendly, nearly all of the (many) pubs positively encourage dogs and I confess that I now find London a bit too much for me and can’t wait to get back home.

And last night I went to the turning on of the Christmas Lights and it was fantastic.

People of all ages attended, I was surprised to see so many teens and young couples alongside the families and older people, the town was completely packed, there was a small funfair, mulled wine, music and fireworks.

All in all, it was awesome and I wandered back to the pub, which had put our beers behind the bar for safe keeping with a massive grin on my face.

So.

I was wrong about Germany and the Germans.

I was wrong about ‘The North’

I found this out by myself, I didn’t need to be harangued by people who didn’t actually live there, I didn’t need a diversity lecture, my ‘racism’ didn’t need to be called out and shamed, nor my ‘ignorance’.

And finally. Here’s my point.

I watched the video of that farrago of the Hamilton cast haranguing Mike Pence at their show and cringed. How does that help? Who does it help?

I know who Pence is and think he’s got some views that I really don’t agree with, but instead of taking the opportunity to welcome him in, show him that he’s wrong about things, get to meet with him, ask him backstage or to maybe come back another day  – and engage – the cast gave him an embarrassing lecture via an ambush.

Opportunity wasted – all for some virtue signalling.

I’m finding myself turning off from anybody that can’t frame their argument, ‘racist’ ‘sexist’ ‘ableist’ are just words now. If you’re not sure enough of your argument to actually discuss it, don’t bother.

 

 

 

The Behemoths of the Boulevard

It was in the summer of 1934 that my fever returned, the drama and stress of city life was not proving conducive to my health and I was plagued with bizarre dreams and night sweats, awaking paler and weaker every morning; my body unable to heal itself and my spirit growing tired from the nightly torments. 

It was in the spirit of love and hopefulness that my beloved Cecily booked us a suite of adjoining rooms in the resort town of Innsmouth by the Sea and that we arrived there on that fateful July afternoon to take part in what the Innsmouth Herald called ‘a localised disturbance’, in reality – an event of such horror that I can scarce bring pen to paper now. 

But my time runs short and if future generations are to be spared such abominations; the truth must be told. 

Here then is the unadulterated account of what occurred in Innsmouth that summer  – May merciful God please take my soul tonight; so that I do not have to relive another day. 

The train journey down had been uneventful, our first class carriage was protected from the smoke and soot from the engine and although we travelled for a little over nine hours, the food and wine were outstanding and we arrived refreshed and hopeful of the sea air working its primordial magic upon my system. 

A carriage was awaiting at the station and the porters loaded our cases onto the back with alacrity, hoping for and receiving a sizeable tip that occasioned both of the otherwise grim-countenanced men to smile broadly. 

Innsmouth had been substantially rebuilt following the fire that devastated the town in 1922, although the shiny-cobbled streets looked unchanged in the older part of the town with some houses leaning into each other at perilous and strange angles. 

The coast runs close to the town and a sparkling new boulevard had been laid that stretched for over two miles – a substantial piece of investment for a small town and dozens of new businesses, including our hotel were built alongside, with a view of both boulevard and beach. 

The Innsmouth Grand Hotel lived up to its name – a four story columned building finished in pearlescent white and built in the grand Gothic style with towers, turrets and cleverly designed doors and windows that reminded one of multi-faceted jewels. 

The concierge swooped out to our carriage and with a whirlwind of activity, Cecily and I were shown to our adjoining ocean-facing suites and it was from our adjacent balconies that we clasped hands and looked at the beauty of the sea and shoreline together. 

It had always been a mystery to me as to why Innsmouth was not as popular as Long Island or some of the California resorts, the coastline is magnificent, white sands, azure sea and stunning rock formations a few hundred yards out to sea that seemed to change shape as the reflected light from the sea bounced from their faces. 

The mystery that surrounded the events that led up to the fire of 1922 cannot have helped the town rebuild itself as a vacation and relaxation resort, for no satisfactory explanation of that day ever made it to press. A fire occurred and some of the population were found to be missing afterwards. The assumption put forward by the press was that they had relocated. 

Still; rumours and whispers lingered, of strange practices, of lights in the sky and of half-glimpsed figures that appeared in the flames but of which there were no signs once the fire was contained. 

I mentioned nothing of this to my sweet Cecily; the town seemed to be absolutely charming and completely dedicated to the new industry of leisure – service at all points so far had been immaculate and I looked forward to our dinner in the new hotel’s ocean-facing restaurant. 

I dressed carefully for dinner, my best suit had been unpacked and pressed, my diamond cufflinks gleamed and my tie reflected the green of Cecily’s eyes. 

Did I mention that my fiancée was a beautiful woman? Small and elfin-featured with heartbreaking green eyes and a way of seeing into your very soul. Her blonde hair gleamed in any light but seemed made for the moonlight where it seemed to reflect more light than received; she shone like a beacon. 

It was with a sense of deep pride that I escorted her to our table, a bottle of champagne already open and glistening in a silver ice-bucket and our waiter attentiveness itself. 

I shall not dwell upon our meal, save to note that no food has ever tasted as fine, no wine, spirit or champagne since has  filled my soul with the glow that comes from eating well and basking in love. 

Following our meal; much of which I confess was spent in contemplation of Cecily’s beauty, the glow from her eyes, her flawless pale skin, the music of her voice – we gathered our coats and joined the happy throng of people upon the boulevard. 

Innsmouth had eschewed electric lighting at that point, electing instead to light the boardwalk with regularly spaced flaming torches, giving a party-like atmosphere to the boulevard, which was enhanced by the soft music that rang out from the bars and restaurants, the end of prohibition giving businesses a new life and spirit of hopefulness. 

I clasped Cecily’s hand lightly as we walked, our steps light and in time with the music that flowed around us. Our matching smiles seemed to grow as the evening wore on and I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with this wonderful woman.  

The boulevard was full of like-minded couples and our steps gave a strange rhythmic counterpoint to the music, heightened by the flames and the unusually bright moon that gave Cecily’s hair an eldritch glow and was reflected in her shining eyes. 

I leaned in close, so as to drink in her beauty and so did not see the attacker until it was much too late. Not that I really saw anything at all. There was just an impression of darkness and fangs and then Cecily’s throat was laid open and I was frantically trying to staunch the flow of blood. But the dark thing did not stop there and another five young women were similarly attacked, all within seconds and before any defence could be mounted by the men of the boulevard. 

Cecily had fainted outright and it was with uncertain steps that I carried her back to the safety of the Innsmouth Grand Hotel and to the tender ministrations of the doctor. 

Grim countenanced and with an air of utmost concentration, the doctor began the task of irrigating the wound which I was pleased to note was less severe than I originally thought – a slashing wound rather than a deep puncture. He then cleansed the area with surgical alcohol before closing with small sutures. Cecily was mercifully asleep during this operation and he then woke her with smelling salts to ensure that her mental faculties were not impaired following the attack. 

The five other young ladies were similarly treated by the doctor and his assistant and I was left trying to explain to the town constable what had occurred. 

My tale was viewed  with deep suspicion and I was left feeling strangely, guiltily glad that there had been multiple attacks as I was sure that my next view would be of Innsmouth Gaol if this had been a singular occurrence. 

A militia was raised and the boulevard rang with voices and shouts throughout the night. I confess that I did not join the hunt as I stood watch over my darling Cecily as she fitfully slept through the hue and cry of the men and dogs on the boardwalk and the clattering of hooves upon the cobbles. 

Dawn arose with a pink blush over the sea and my heart was gladdened to see that the colour had begun to return to Cecily’s cheeks as she slept. 

And then..

Her beautiful green eyes opened and she spoke. 

Dear reader, I am not a vulgar man by nature nor is it my wish to overdramatise my account. However, if I do not report things accurately, how will you future generations know how to diagnose the evil in the early stages of its appearance?

And Cecily Spoke. 

‘WHADAFUQAREYOULOOKINATYOUPUNKASSBITCH’?

Her voice was utterly changed, deeper and more booming and the look of horror on her face as the words emerged broke my heart asunder. She ran from the room, weeping and mortified and it was over an hour later that she appeared, normal in countenance and voice and we wondered if the strange words were just a reaction to the shock. 

I cancelled our plans for a boat trip out to the rocks and convinced Cecily that a picnic upon the boulevard would help to mend our shattered nerves. 

The hotel prepared a grand repast and two porters carried table, chairs, awning, a picnic hamper, beautifully prepared food and an ice bucket with a fine meursault to the beach where we whiled away the afternoon with soft talk and murmurings, wine and food, linked hands and shared gaze. 

And then another young couple walked past on the boulevard and I could see that the woman had been similarly attacked the previous night, a small wound on her neck marked her as another victim and the couple paused as if to share sympathies, a look of deep solicitation on their faces. 

Until the two women locked gazes. 

Something occurred in that second, depths swam behind their eyes and a bone chilling cackle emerged from their mouths simultaneously as they communicated. 

‘SUPBITCH?’

‘SHEETNOTHINGOINONHEYARWITDISPUNKYO’

The other woman’s beau looked at me aghast and I knew that this was not the first outburst of the day for this couple, both women had been infected by something. 

I resolved in that moment to return Cecily to the doctor, something was badly wrong with her and it was now clear that this was not isolated to her alone.

Cecily once again looked to be in shock at her outburst, but I was concerned as I could now see something other swimming behind her eyes, which now seemed to cut and mock me with every glance. 

And then a further surprise, Cecily; as was the fashion of young women who had suffered a shock to their nervous disposition, took to her room and announced that she would sleep until the next day at least. 

And the door was resolutely closed in my face and stayed that way until noon the next day. 

Despite my knocking and imprecations, Cecily would not budge from her quarters until, in despair and I managed to convince a maid with pleading and no small sum of cash to open the door so that I could check on her health . 

What we found caused the maid to swoon, I was just able to prevent her from falling to the floor, but how I achieved this I do not know. For Cecily was changed.  

Her hair was both darker and thinner, closer to black than blonde, her eyes were open but unseeing and were now a muddy shade of brown and her limbs had swollen to twice their original size, the pale skin stretched over porcine flesh that seemed to writhe and ooze under the thin covering. 

I confess that I screamed aloud at that point and did not cease until the hotel manager arrived with a complement of porters, all of whom blanched at the repulsive sight before them. 

Coverings were found and the beleaguered physician called, although it was at least an hour before the poor man arrived, haggard and drained-looking. 

He engaged the hotel manager in private conversation before consulting with me and it was at that point I learned that all of the young women that had been attacked by the dark shape on the boulevard were exhibiting identical symptoms. 

The county sheriff had been called and was due to arrive the next day, but it was clear that there were no theories that would lead to a perpetrator, nor a medical reason that the physician’s research for the condition of the young women had yet discovered. 

All we could do was wait. 

I sat vigil over Cecily that day and night and watched her young slim body metamorphosise into a bloated thing that reminded me of the walruses that I had once watched in San Francisco Bay. Her arms and legs were huge blubbery things that had now changed colour to that of a dark aubergine, her features were coarser a and spread across a face that now had a ring of a fat -like substance around the outside, over which multiple chins flowed. Her once pert and pretty breasts were now massive and flowing across her upper body. 

I could see no sign of the woman that I loved within this monstrous being and yet I hoped that when she regained consciousness, that her sweet and loving nature would reassert itself and that we could begin looking for a cure to this madness. 

And then. 

At dusk on the third day, she awoke, looked groggily around the suite and heaved her huge bulk from the bed. 

I stood to take her hand and was struck to the ground by a giant paw. 

‘DAFUQ’

And with that strange imprecation ringing in my ears, a thin trickle of blood clouding my vision, she was gone. 

All of the affected women disappeared that evening and despite the best efforts of the townspeople and the County Sheriff’s men who conducted a wide ranging search, they were not seen again for another week.

I had set myself up in the hotel , searching the area daily, including hiring a boat to take me out to the rocks, where I searched the strange caves and shouted myself hoarse in the search for my beloved. I spent the nights under the influence of a mix of champagne and absinthe and my dreams were haunted by dark shapes and the smell of blood. 

At dusk on the last Saturday in July, the boulevard began to vibrate and THUD as if an army had been set to marching, sand danced in the last rays of the sun as the vibrations sent it high into the air. 

Restaurants and hotels emptied as people rushed outside to see what strange events were about to unfold. 

And we saw. 

Six hugely bloated things now clad in material that fluoresced and glowed, whether from some chemical reaction to the crteatures’ skin or by some other means – I do not know. Their huge limbs oozed as they walked and their bodies were so massive that if I had not known that they were once human, I confess that I would have thought them another, alien,  species. 

Their voices boomed and the boulevard rattled to their steps and war cries. 

‘WASSUPMUTHAFUQA’ 

‘YOMANIGAWASSUPWITCHOO’

They were terrifying. 

And hungry. 

A young waitress wandered too close to their orbit, terrified but curious, her eyes wide open with fear and awe. A huge meaty paw closed around her wrist and before anybody could react, the creature took a huge gory bite from her forearm, leaving the poor girl screaming and spurting blood in its wake. 

The six behemoths continued on their way as if the incident had never occurred, thundering their awful way towards the town. I confess that I now had no inkling as to which of these creatures had previously been my sweet Cecily, so changed were they all and so alike to each other as to be almost indistinguishable. 

I did not believe at that point that things could possibly get worse. 

And then. 

And then…. Oh dear God, I wish it were not so, but with a bellow of ‘FUQYOOYOUFILTHYFUQINHOE!’ The waitress began to mutate into one of these foul creatures, changing before our horrified eyes into another huge monster, her uniform now in tatters around her pulchritudinous flesh, drool escaping from her huge open maw. 

The crowd ran and I confess that I ran with them, lungs heaving and in terror for my immortal soul. 

We ran as a single entity and made for the the safety of the Innsmouth Grand Hotel and my heart was gladdened to see that the County Sheriff and the Town Constable were stood there, tall and strong, with cocked rifles and a complement of armed men equipped with flaming torches. 

As I reached safety, a rifle was thrust into my hand and I knew that no matter what the outcome of this night was to be, my soul would be damned for all eternity.

The foul beasts that our women  had become did not seem dissuaded by this show of force and stood in the middle of the boulevard, moving lewdly and bellowing strange taunts. 

‘TOOMUCHJELLYFORYOOWHITECRACKAMUDAFUQAS’

‘COMEGETSOMEYOULILBITCHES’

And other imprecations the seemed to be in no known language. 

Then a shot rang out and a lump of blubber peeled from the upper arm of one of the monsters and a gout of blood sprayed the boardwalk as if ejected from a firehose. 

Emboldened by this, the throng of men opened fire, although I confess that I aimed skywards as I no longer knew which of these things had been my own dear Cecily. 

And the behemoths, sorely wounded in the first few seconds of the exchange turned and ran. If ran was the correct term. 

Boards splintered under the assault of this migration of massive creatures ; blood stained the boulevard and sand to both sides, making crazy patterns that haunt my dreams to this day. 

Then the monsters stopped and began to walk into the sea opposite the rock formations, red waves billowing behind them. 

And they seemed to be praying to gods or goddesses from another time and place, causing me to wonder anew at the identity of the strange dark catalyst for these events. 

‘LaShaquanishia’

‘LaToya’

‘Kalisha’

‘Beyoncé’ 

‘Shabooboo’ 

It may be that if they had begun swimming, they could have escaped, but they stood in the waves, making mournful sounds as the assembled men on the beach gunned them down and turned the beach into a charnel house remisniscent of Inuit hunts. 

When it was clear that none of the stranded hulks would move again, ropes were attached  to the six corpses and they were heaved ashore and their corpses burnt on the beach. 

This is where my story ends, I have been back to Innsmouth every summer since, partly in search of answers, partly in search of the seventh leviathan. 

For in all of the exultation and terror of that night, nobody but me ever thought to count the bodies – there were five of the original behemoths and the poor afflicted waitress. 

One of the monsters was missing and remains so to this day….

I am old now and near death, but I implore you all – ALL who read this to watch the beaches and resorts for the survivor, if survivor there was. Just one of these things will infect your shorelines and towns with massive crude beasts in female form, I just pray that this never comes to pass. 

God bless you all. 

A balloon for Alison

Part two  – following on from The Ghosts of Rubies

So.

It was in a strange frame of mind that I sat and watched the motley group of people that had gathered, walk up the small hill to the memorial garden and open it with the key that is left inside the castle offices.

They were a wide range of ages, from people in their thirties to old men on sticks and frames, struggling up to the garden at a sedate pace while chatting to their friends.

To a man, the old men had red berets and chestfuls of medals.

It was strange, I was sat in a picture window table and I’m pretty sure that the only person watching them form a semicircle around the memorial and airborne flag was me.

I was fascinated and ate my chilli while I watched them take turns in giving a short speech and googled airborne battle dates and planned memorials.

To fast forward a bit, I rejoined the world of Twitter on Monday this week in a slightly better frame of mind and even a real near-miss in the car on Monday hasn’t returned me back to the role of soothsayer of my own death.

I’m slightly more sanguine about things and I’ve accepted that I need to change a few things about me if I’m not to keep repeating the past.

I know that I can’t return things back to the way that they were, I only hope that in time; the people I’ve hurt can look at me with some balance and judge the positive things that I brought into their lives against the hurt I’ve caused.

Hopefully, the scales will swing slightly in my favour.

Then.

On Tuesday, David Sinfield’s wife Alison died.

She’d been ill for a long while with breast cancer and had successfully done a number of fundraising events in aid of cancer research.

I never met Alison (nor have I met David, but in the weird world of Twitter, I know him quite well) but was impressed by the determination that she showed and amused by the odd anecdote that David posted from time to time.

And it took me back to Saturday.

I couldn’t find any details of a memorial on the general internet, nor on social media, nor in the local press for the town, nor in announcements.

Not anywhere.

This was a private memorial set up by friends and family.

Old friends who’d been to war together, had known each other for over over sixty years, fought side by side, drifted in and out of the orbits of their lives and come together for a private recollection of one of their own.

I wondered if they’d ever fallen out? fought? let each other down? laughed at stupid things and got so drunk that even as a group, they couldn’t piece together a whole recollection.

I hoped that whatever was being said healed any wounds that might linger and that all that would be left after the memorial would be smiles.

Then..

They released a bunch of helium balloons into the sky.

I was still the only person looking and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried a little to see that.

It was a beautiful morning and the balloons flew up into a clear sky.

When they finally vanished into the blue, the little crowd disappeared as if in a dream, they were all gone within minutes and I was looking at an empty memorial.

the scene stayed with me for days after though, the solemn walk up, the unheard speeches and the unexpected beauty of the balloons was a privilege to watch.

Here’s your balloon Alison, whatever the journey is now;  we all wish you well.

 

IMG_1426

 

 

(I asked David for permission to write this blog)

 

The Ghosts of Rubies

Part one of two 

I started writing this post in my head a while ago – it was darker at that time, full of omens, portents and presentiments of my own death.

I’d started to feel the brush of Death in almost every hour of every day, there was no rational reason for it, but I saw signs everywhere.

Ravens in trees, people that looked like ghosts from my past, random news feeds and twitter updates, you name it, I could see it there.

It didn’t help that I’d managed to hurt somebody that I love and then handled that hurt and the situation around it very badly.

I did.

It’s too late and I don’t think I can fix it. But that’s my loss and regret, I’ll have to live with it.

Add a crappy experience at work in the past few months, living alone in a strange place and a sense of quiet isolation and it all added up to a pretty bad mindset.

And so I took myself off Twitter for a week so that I could just sit and read books, watch TV, listen to music (and go to work for 12 hours a day, obviously).

Then, last Saturday, I took a long drive out for the day to visit a town that had been recommended to me, a place with a castle and a cathedral, quirky little shops and a number of bars and restaurants.

I did the obligatory tourist things and found myself fascinated by the castle, in excellent condition, with outstanding views, a massive wall to walk around and a number of excellent exhibits.

IMG_1424

I was early enough that there weren’t too many fucking tourists around to spoil the photos  and it was by  morbid coincidence that reflected my mindset that I found that there’d been a number of public executions in the 1800s on the spot that I took the photo from..

Still, it was diverting enough and I was glad that I’d made the trip rather than hide in Preston.

After a number of hours, I went for lunch and sat in a bar that overlooked the castle, the cathedral and a small Airborne Memorial Garden attached to the castle. As I had no intention of driving for a while, I had a glass of wine with a very hot chilli for lunch, opened my kindle and read/ people watched.

The light was shining through my wine glass onto the table and making a pretty little display – when these words appeared on the page of the book I was reading. (The Lovers, John Connolly)

“He put the glass down and let the candlelight play upon the wine, spreading red fractals upon the tabletop like the ghosts of rubies”

I smiled to see the words and the image played out in real life, and I settled into the people- watching, becoming more relaxed as I did.

Then I noticed the group of people moving towards the memorial.

end

 

 

Paper Prayers

 

It’s mid-July 1969, a young man sits in a 3rd story window of a flat in an East London sink estate. There is no view from the window that doesn’t include more flats and blocks, as far as the eye can see.

That’s if you look straight ahead of course.

If you look down, there’s a crowd of noisy kids calling up for “more”, “another” “please!”.

The young man smiles fondly, three of his four sons are in the pack, smiles on their faces, eyes alight as their dad gets ready to launch another.

He takes his time on this one, having been taught to make it by his own father during the war. Neither man has heard of origami, but the level of effort and detail needed is much more than a few paper folds.

He holds it up to the light to admire the simple clean lines and knows that this one will loop and soar far above the kids below, they’ll have to run for it, laughing and shouting as they do.

45-swallow-paper-airplane

He hears his youngest son stir in the cot behind him and knows that this game can only last a while longer. His wife is at work in the factory that makes the model cars that the three other boys play with to the point of destruction – and beyond. He’ll have to cook dinner soon and get the three other boys washed and ready for bed at some point.

He smiles, silently conceding that maybe his own dad had done well to cope with even more and launches the plane high into the air from the window as he remembers…

The first sight and roar of a spitfire overhead as it flew back from a mission to protect London’s sky, the feel of his father’s strong hand holding his as the plane vanished into the distance.

His dad was so tired all the time, but still made sure to take him, his sister and brother out on his days off. To walk over to the fields and see the wildlife; to watch the small fish in the river and sit still while the rabbits lost their fear and eventually played in the sun.

These days were few and far between, his dad was a blacksmith and worked all the waking hours, taking time for dinner and then manning anti-aircraft guns at night. On his nights off, they prayed that they wouldn’t have to hide in the tin shelter at the end of the garden.

Too often they did.

Still  – there were good times.

Once they even got on a train, noisy and exciting and went all the way to Kent for a few days, they went hop picking and the boy was given his first ever real pay for a job.

The paper plane, once launched picks up a gust of wind and soars higher, performing a small roll in midair before settling into a glide that means that the laughing kids below will have to run to collect it.

Tomorrow, if there’s enough money left in his pay packet, he’ll buy the crowd an ice-cream from the Rossi van that haunts the area, draining the money from parents as the heatwave continues.

As the plane starts the glide down, he starts on another. This one more modern, streamlined and efficient looking. A plane called Concorde had been all over the papers earlier in the year a beautiful dart of a thing that flew faster than sound.

It takes just a few seconds to make the paper dart and the origami glider is still flying as he attaches a paperclip to the front to give it some direction and launches it into the air, remembering..

The sputter of the V1s as they flew overhead, their engines always on the verge of cutting out. Flying bombs that were launched with enough fuel to reach London and then fall onto civilians. If the engine was sputtering, you were safe. When it died…

He once watched a brave hurricane pilot put the wing of his plane under a V1 and gently turn and bank, guiding the bomb to a safer destination. He marvels that the pilot was likely much younger than he is now and silently hopes that he made it through the war.

The paper dart, efficient and weighted soars at the children below, giving them a new target to scream and run towards, their laughter echoing from the walls of the flats…

The V2s changed everything, weapons of destruction using the same technology as the new Concorde; they flew faster than sound and landed without warning. A whole street was taken in that way, just a few hundred yards from his house. for a while it seemed as if the world would end in blood and flame.

Then, when he was just a small child, the war ended and the grey years of rebuild and rationing began.

That’s over these days, but he still knows how to make food for a hungry family from meagre ingredients and he glances at the kitchen shelves to see what he’ll make today.

Mashed potato and corned beef with tinned vegetables seems to be the likely course for his little omnivores, with tomato ketchup and Tizer as the accompaniments. Literally for his oldest boy, he’ll pour both on the meal.

He saw a lot of planes in the army during his national service, but has never been on one, being stationed in the UK and rising to the giddy heights of company clerk.

His youngest son is just getting to that stage of wakefulness that might indicate a little cry when he wakes up, so he takes four sheets of paper, one for each of his sons and makes four planes as fast as his fingers will allow.

Walking to the window, he waves down and launches all four simultaneously.

A cry goes up from the pack of kids below, smiling faces looking up at the sky.

In the pack, a six year old boy runs for his plane, thats his dad up there..

A rush of love fills his chest as he runs.

And it’s still there forty seven years later.

Paper Plane