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.
Saturday - Thank you to everyone who sent commiserations on my brush with ill health. Sadly this is what happens when eighty is past (much younger for some people -...
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