Regular readers of my blog will remember me mentioning visiting my Uncle Charlie, when I'm in Brighton. He is some character! He is my mum's brother, and she followed him at school. Unfortunately his reputation meant she had a bit of a raw deal! Uncle Charlie and my dear mum were two of seven children, a good catholic family from Glasgow. U.C was the sickly one of the family and as a youngster was in and out of hospital with health problems, I'm not sure exactly what but I do know he only has one kidney. Would you believe he is the only one of that generation alive.
I remember very clearly when he and his dad, my papa, came down from Scotland to live with us. Papa was becoming frail and U.C just happeened to still be living at home. U.C however has always liked a bit of a drink, so he didn't stay too long. I'm sure mum would have encouraged him to find a place of his own. I remember us having great fun together. For a while I started judo and he was only 4ft 9 short, and we would do judo together, in the living room. U.C travelled the world fighting for his country during the war. He says he was in the SAS, I'm not sure if they had an 'SAS' in those days, or if he was in an elite group that was similar. Even now he loves to talk about his paratrouping days. He loves to remind us he was always first to leave the plane, and last to land, due to his height and weight.
This February he reached the grand age of 93. He is doing well but getting a little more confused, as you are allowed at that age. A couple of months ago, I had a panic phone call one morning from Frankie. She is first point of call with any worries with him. He has a carer once a week, plus people doing quick calls twice a day, mainly to ensure he is eating. Touch wood this works well most days. I received the call from Frankie it was to say U.C hadn't been at home for his evening meal. That is quite unusual as he tends to go to the pub Monday to Saturday with a day off on Sunday however he's usually home by late afternoon. Luckily he goes to a regular pub where everyone knows him. He doesn't realise it's a gay bar (that's why he left his last regular) everyone is so friendly towards him, and the bar staff really look out for him. I'm not sure what goes through his mind when he sees the occasional act performing there. Regulars are called 'Sally Vate' and 'Miss Jason' possibly he blames it on his cataracts! Anyway.... Frankie received a phone call to say he wasn't at home, so she didn't worry too much thinking he had just stayed for a slightly longer session than usual. The following morning another phone call came through, he wasn't there and his bed hadn't been slept in. Could this have meant he had been out all night?
Frankie phoned this hospital, he is quite a regular sadly. He does have the odd fall, and is quite well known to the staff. This day however there was no sign of him. The next call was to the police station, plus Frankie and I both put his photo on facebook, and it zoomed around Brighton in no time.
I was distraught! We know he will not live for ever but it was devastating to think he may have collapsed somewhere in the street and been there all night. The next couple of hours went passed in slow motion. Things weren't looking good. I then got a quick message from Frankie, "He's in hospital, but we don't know how he is yet!" At least we knew where he was. There wasn't much of a jigsaw to piece together but apparently he had fallen in the street and some kind soul had phoned an ambulance. It seemed a little strange that when Frankie initially phoned the hospital they had no record of him being a patient, they simply said he was between wards? Luckily he was back home the same day!
Low and behold he did the same thing again a month later, however this time, he was missing for dinner and breakfast once again. No signs of U.C in the hospital and once again the community police kept a look out for him. Facebook pleas were posted and shared all over the Brighton community. The bar has a facebook page and the regulars were aware he was missing once again. Mid afternoon I received a message "Charlie's just walk into the bar, and he's fine!" No one could get out of him where he had been! He was totally unaware that half of Brighton had been looking for him. He just sat at his favourite table and ordered a double brandy (they always give him a single) and spent the rest of the afternoon there! He is a worry to us all!
My dear Uncle Charlie and I