Thursday, 16 September 2010

The passing of family.

Tis another weekend, that is almost upon us. However this time we are spending some if not all of it away from the boat. We are going on a trip down to Coventry in the West Midlands. This is because the Memsahib is trying to put her recently departed cousin's affairs into order. Whilst Mag's is putting a brave face on the task. It has not been at all pleasant so far. Mainly because when he died, Malcolm died alone and without friends or family members with him. To make matters worse, Malcolm's remains lay unfound for three months.

Malcolm, was apparently to everyone on the outside, his own man. However, Malcolm seems to have had few if any close friends or even acquaintances. All that was just a facade because inwardly he became an increasingly shy, retiring and evermore reclusive individual. Malcolm therefore chose to live an almost solitary and sedentary lifestyle. He was to all intents and purposes outwardly happy with just his own self for company.

This begs the question, how does anyone manage to live a life in almost self inflicted solitary confinement. What are the reasons why anyone would want to live in this way. What are the personality traits that can supress a family orientated individual to behave in this way. We can't claim to know any of the answers and the only certainty is that we are sure we never will.

However, Malcolm maintained some communication within the family. This was mainly based around a  occasional letter and the Christmas card exchange every year. The Christmas card always came from some foreign and sometimes "very exotic" location from around the world. (Vietnam, Brasil, Jorden, Yemen, Japan and Australia to name a few) Yet, at the same time he was in his own way a family orientated person. He kept in contact with Mag's father Joe up until the time Joe passed away.  However, for the family much anecdotal information about Malcolm and his family came from Joe and Joe's occasional reminiscences.

Malcolm was always invited to visit his closest family. Any change of addresses and phone numbers were sent with the Christmas card exchange. Whilst the cards from Malcolm would be sent to the new addresses he would still fail to make any other contact. It was always hard for his estranged family members to understand just why he behaved in this way?

By way of a paradox, Malcolm over a period of years carefully researched and recorded his family history. A history which he only shared with selected members of his immediate family. Mag's father Joe was one such recipient of the "Family Tree" done in Malcolm's neat handwriting style.

However, it must be added that Malcolm's main passion was based around the restoration of the family crypt and he was fighting a rearguard action with Sheffield council who wanted to leave the crypt untouched and in a state of some disrepair. His family home at the same time was in its way a shrine to his mother who herself was a very strong willed and dominant character. Malcolm's mother had died some 40 years previously and yet her bedroom was  almost untouched. This alone is in a very sad way, something of a tribute to the domination that she held over her son, that seemingly continued until the day he died.

Ill health dogged Malcolm in his later years and he slowly became something of a "Mister Trebus" character as housekeeping became too much of a chore and his home became more and more unkempt. As Malcolm became more and more introvert he became something of a stranger to his neighbours as he increasingly avoided any contact with them. Malcolm as far as we can deduce apparently spurned all contact with social services in Sheffield.

(Mister Trebus came to fame when he was featured on the British television documentary series "A Life of Grime" and his favourite phrase was, "Stick it up your chuffer!". He was living alone in a run-down house in Crouch End in north London surrounded by piles of rubbish, because he never threw anything away) 

Malcolm was in his early years was an articulate, well travelled and well educated man who refused to be ridden roughshod by anyone. His later years after his mother died he became something of a quite, stark, lonely and evermore introverted shell of his former self. Yet at the same time, I admire his tenacity in adversity and fortitude in the disappointments that life sometimes brought his way. From his personal papers that he obviously greatly cherished and carefully saved, he was living in the past. He saved very little if anything from recent times.

The World is a much sadder place for the loss of one of its colourful characters.  Yet, in a bizarre turn of events, Malcolm's passing did actually bring much closer together some of his relatives who had drifted apart over the years.  His funeral was attended by all his known relatives and it was their way of saying goodbye to the much missed and almost legendary family recluse.

We have not published a picture of Malcolm or his surname in respect of his lifelong wish for anonymity and we will continue at all times to respect his wishes.

R.I.P. Malcolm.


1 comment:

  1. Such a shame. Our heartfelt wishes to both yourself and Mags at this difficult time.

    It does beg the question how this can happen in this day and age.

    All the best wishes

    Liam & Rach


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