Sunday, 19 May 2019

The future is yellow

Didn't we do well in the Eurovision Song Contest? Do you think they are trying to tell us something about Brexit? The English entrant took coming last in very good spirit, saying that he suspected the result had something to do with politics. I think he could be right.

The MEP elections are coming up this week. More humiliation. I don't want to vote for any of them, but I suppose I must if only to keep Farage and his hideous progeny out of the picture.

It has taken me months to realise that the yellow stickers you find popping up everywhere saying BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT are actually the official campaign slogan of the Liberal Democrat party. It defies belief.

Don't get me wrong, I love it, but why come up with a catchy slogan which cannot be said on national media before the 9.00 pm watershed?

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Sins of the father

My first consciously brother-free weekend begins today. When I die, our family name dies with me. If I had a title, that would die too, but 'Mr.' isn't going anywhere.

Today we are meeting a dear friend and her two adult children to celebrate her birthday with lunch. When his uncle dies, her son will inherit the title of 'Lord' from one of the oldest families in Britain. So old in fact, that they were well-established when Shakespeare mentioned them in one of his Henry plays.

The above image is the heraldic device for my family name (no, not Stephenson), but I can only think that it is associated with distant relatives who did rather better than my lot, who emanated from the East End of London some time in the late 18th, early 19th century, having founded a brewery which still flourishes under a different name today. It was absorbed by one of the giants quite recently.

My Great Grandfather gambled the family business away in one bet on one night, then spent the rest of his life drowning his sorrows in someone else's beer.

I think I see a pattern of family traits emerging...

Friday, 17 May 2019

Stony ground

I have gone from hardly ever thinking about my brother to thinking of little else for about three days.

Actually, that is not quite true. Recently I have been as broke as I ever have been, and I have pointlessly pondered on what my life would be like today if he had not stolen the hundreds of thousands of pounds from us that he did. If he committed the same crimes today it would translate into about £2 million or more.

Over 600 people read yesterday's post. That is a record for me. I am guessing this was not because the post was an interesting one - far from it. That sort of story is probably one of the most boring and predictable ones that you can read. I think it must resonate with more people than I expected it to. Most families that do split up do so due to arguments about money. People become very basic when it comes to money.

When my parents tried to apologise for allowing him to deprive us of the inheritance (which they did many times before they died) I said, "Look on the bright side. You can now be sure that I visit you for no other reason than that I want to, and I will never look on you as potential corpses".

So today I am looking forward to the future by concentrating on my new - and first - advertising campaign. I have sent the artwork to the magazine to be printed, and I am printing some mail shot business cards which I intend to send to the most exclusive addresses in the land. It is going to be the opposite of biblical broadcasting: Most fell on stony ground...

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

A short history of my brother which reads long

After a childhood which constantly bordered on delinquency, my brother left school and joined the RAF as a boy entrant. After basic training he returned home, apparently a reformed person. His bullying of me stopped, but this turned out to be only temporary. He was big - 6 foot 5 inches and over 20 stone after maturity.

He seemed to find that an institutional life in which he was ordered to do things on a strict time schedule suited him. He was never happy with total freedom and would always abuse it, sometimes just out of boredom, or so it seemed.

After serving in Cyprus as a telex operator in Signals, he became bored with the RAF and asked my parents to buy him out before his terms of service had expired. This they did, for about £600. A lot of money in the 1960s.

After leaving the RAF he became a police officer. He was always complimented on the shine of his boots when on morning parade. The RAF had taught him how to polish boots immaculately.

He became bored with the Police eventually too, so left and went to The City (London Stock Exchange) where he utilised his skills in telex to publish and receive stock results. He and a few others would go to a local cafe at lunchtime and sell information to outsiders, who would buy and sell using the information he provided a matter of minutes before the rest of the world had it. He made thousands of pounds from this, but became greedy and alerted suspicions.

He was arrested for insider dealing (he was one of the first to be) but the police could not collate enough evidence to convict him, so he went - for the time being - free.

He left The City and became a property developer in Surrey and Hampshire. He seemed to do well at this and began living the lifestyle of a millionaire, buying a brand new Jaguar sports car and owning a large farm in the country, complete with horses and dogs. Most of his 'profits' were loans from banks which were destined never to be repaid.

This was when he refined his skills as a confidence trickster. Always dressed in a smart suit and tie, he could charm almost anyone into parting with their money, and he always had a semi-plausible excuse as to why it was taking so long to repay them. His mental ability to juggle with conflicting alibis under pressure was truly remarkable. He lived from day to day like this, knowing that some day his lies would be uncovered. It all had to come crashing down at some point.

During this time he persuaded my parents to sell our large house in Surrey, and split up the 2.5 acre garden as a building plot to be sold separately. He stole every last penny of the proceeds from this, bit by bit. He told them he was investing it for them. My mother would always give him a second chance until he took the lot.

Following the sale of the family home, our parents moved into a small bungalow which used to belong to the parents of my brother in law. When they went to the solicitor to arrange a mortgage on it so that they could give my brother the last remaining money they had in the world, the solicitor refused to cooperate and expressed his incredulity that they could not see what he was doing to them. Their own son would have turned them out on the streets in their old age if he could.

Finally (or so we thought) the police caught up with him with evidence that stuck, and he became criminally bankrupt for a large amount of money. This sum did not include my parents life savings, so they were not considered as creditors. He was sent to prison for five years.

When he left prison he became a student of archeology at York. During this brief time he organised a field trip to Turkey and collected deposits from many of his fellow students to cover plane fares, etc. Of course, no such trip was planned and he spent all their deposits. He was sent back to prison.

When he was let out for a second time he worked freelance for a double glazing company in Bristol, and I foolishly agreed to do some building work for him on one job. He didn't pay me so I went straight to his customers to tell them how much I was owed. They told me it was nothing compared to how much he had stolen from them.

After this he spent a lot of time trying to get more money from my sisters, but after about a year of weeping on their doorsteps until they got fed up,  he disappeared into obscurity, only reappearing months after the death of our mother. I refused to talk to him.

When my father died he appeared again, hoping to be included in the will - the little house was, after all, still worth a bit. My now deceased sister foolishly allowed him into the empty house to re-decorate prior to sale.

He had discovered my father's gold Masonic medals in a drawer and suggested he sell them. My older sister told him not to touch them, but he stole them anyway. My father wanted to give those medals to me, but I told him to keep them for as long as he was alive.

This was the last straw for us, and we made it clear he was no longer welcome anywhere near us.

As I found out yesterday, he died of a stroke in Poole, Dorset, over a month ago. The coroner needs me to identify him, I think.


His body will be released to the local authorities for cremation and his ashes will be picked up by whoever wants them. Nobody can find his daughters, his true next of kin.

End of story.

Monday, 13 May 2019

I know too much

I am worrying about this bit of text now. If I claim that I have over 40 years experience in my particular field, then anyone with the most basic grasp of mathematics is going to know that an old git of over 60 is about to turn up on their doorstep.

Perhaps I should claim 30 years and sacrifice a bit of experience?

Hmm. Tricky.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Lovely day

It's a good day for a picnic, but I'm working today. There was a fire in the Hundred Acre Wood last week. I hope it didn't do as much damage as the Disney Corporation.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Summer exhibition

Hundreds of local artists are queuing up to enter their paintings and sculpture into the Bath Society of Artists open Summer exhibition. The registration takes all day and most will not be selected. Next week there will be a disorderly event as all the rejects are picked up by their creators.

The selection panel usually consists of established artists, one of which is quite famous. The whole thing was started by Walter Sickert when he lived here.

One year they asked H.I. to be on the selection panel, which was quite an honour. The following year they asked her to enter one of her own paintings and she declined, saying that it was not her sort of show.

They kept asking her to change her mind, virtually pleading with her to enter, so she reluctantly did.

The selection panel rejected her painting. I was sent to collect it.