the 2000's

Sister Barbara Dies
 
As already detailed in the previous section Barbara died on March 24th 2000, what a great way to start the Millennium. Her will never got made so she died intestate. This raised all kinds of problems. First of all there was the question of her daughter Judith whom she hadn't seen for over 30 years!!


Barbara's Baptismal Certificate
 Godparents: Ernest Roberson & Lucy Roberson (Family friends not related)

Judith's Story.
 
Judith Avril Danielli was born April 15th 1945, just before the end of WWII in Europe (VE Day -8th May 1945) She was an unhappy baby who cried a great deal and one had the feeling was something of a mistake and rather an intrusion as far as her parents were concerned. At the time of her birth Barbara & Lou were living with Pop, Phyl and me at 1 Woodhall Drive. They used the downstairs front room as a living room, upstairs front bedroom and shared the Kitchen and Bathroom. I remember Pop getting absolutely frantic about the continuous bawling of Judith and it was with great relief that Danny (Lou's father) found them a bungalow in Northwood Hills and they finally moved away. Barbara & Lou worked their way though a number of residences over the next few years as well as several jobs. They eventually ended up in Brighton in a flat somewhere and by this time Judith was 16 and about to go to college. She had decided on a career in catering and this required going to college for 3 years somewhere in the London area. Her parents issued some sort of ultimatum to the effect that they were moving to Brighton and Judith could do what ever she wanted. I'm not sure how this worked out but I do know that Judith eventually finished 6th in the UK Cordon Bleu class and then had several pretty high powered jobs including Assistant House keepers at Skindles in Maidenhead, followed by a similar position in the Regent Palace Hotel London. At one time she was catering manager for Sainsbury's, the large grocery chain and I believe she finished up as Catering Manager to the farmers club of England which included a flat in Dolphin Square with "hot and cold" running servants. I had little or no contact with Judith over the ensuing years, we did once meet at a restaurant in Ludgate Hill of which I believe she was manageress. This was probably some time in the early 70's or it might have been late 60's. I know that she was in contact with Phyl, my stepmother from time to time but these contacts were far from happy meetings. It seems that Judith had become an alcoholic, mainly due to the ease with which she had access to booze in her various catering jobs. I also know that she had conceived and given birth to a boy in September 1967 who was immediately adopted. His name on his birth certificate was Jean Pierre, heavens know why and of course the father's name is blank. Phyl told a story about Judith arriving late one night at Woodhall Drive in a taxi and she was totally drunk. It seems she was looking for money but I believe Phyl sent her off empty handed with a "flea in her ear". As far as I know this was the last family contact she had until I "found" her around Easter time in 2000.
 
The finding of Judith was imperative since she was the only child and stood to inherit Barbara's "small fortune". Tony and I discussed the possibility of just assuming that she was dead and dividing up the residue between Wendy (Lou's sister) and myself. After careful consideration we decided we had better at least try and find out if a) she was still alive and b) if so where she was. This proved to be no mean feat.
 
I started by asking Barbara's solicitor if he knew of a good private investigating company who could start the ball rolling. He gave me a name and they quickly came up with an address in North London. I was still in England after having dealt with Barbara's funeral and had one day left before flying back to Canada. I decided to spend this last day in Camberley with Carol and Family and while everyone was out at work I looked up various maps, trains etc. on the internet and decided I could get to the address and back in the day. I eventually found the house, it had been converted into flats. At first there was no one home so I went and had a snack at a local greasy spoon and returned to the flats at around 4:30. someone was at home in the ground floor flat and eventually after much explaining as to who I was and what I was looking for I elicited the fact that two girls had lived upstairs but had left about 9 months previously. A dead end! Then by chance as I was leaving the flats front garden I met a lady who lived opposite and who was just parking her car. She confirmed that someone who sounded just like Judith had lived there and she though that the house was under the control of a sheltered housing group known as Circle O. There was a builder's yard adjacent to the house and again after explaining my presence the owner, a rather unhelpful and taciturn Irishman, also seemed to remember the girls. I asked him for the number of Circle O housing which he reluctantly looked up and then promptly point blank refused to let me use his telephone even though I offered to pay for the call. (All calls in the UK are chargeable - incidentally) He directed me to a phone booth around the corner where I duly inserted my 10p and dialed the number. A recorded voice told me that their office hours were 09:30 to 5:00 and if I cared to leave a message they would get back to me ASAP. Needless to say is was 3 minutes past 5 ! Leaving a message was out of the question, even if I could have made it coherent, I was leaving for Heathrow at 06:30 the next morning so they would hardly have called me back in Canada. Finally I left the whole matter in Carol's capable hands and she contacted them, explained the circumstances and the housing people finally agreed to give Judith's current address to the solicitors' so that they could contact her.
 
The solicitors wrote to Judith with the usual request "to contact them as soon as possible when she might learn something to her advantage". Unfortunately the letter arrived on the Thursday before Good Friday. When Judith tried to telephone the solicitors office in Hove she found them closed until the Tuesday after Easter, four days hence. Imagine her distress at having to wait the entire Easter weekend before she could find out what the "something" was. When she was finally able to contact them she immediately caught a train down to Brighton and thence to Hove where she learnt that both her parents were now dead and subject to a few legal matters she was the sole legatee. The solicitors also gave her my address and asked if they could notify me of her current address. Of course she agreed with alacrity and since Tony had my full power of attorney to act on my behalf he was notified and in turn advised me.
 
There followed some fairly emotional and painful correspondence between Judith and I the contents of which were mainly catching up on the past many years since we had last met.
 
The unfortunate incidents with Bill

 Judith described herself as a "Recovering Alcoholic" and she was in fact "Dry" at this time. She had chosen to live with a fellow Recovering Alcoholic called Bill. A fellow of around fifty years (see picture at the end of this section) and it seemed that they were very supportive of each other. However it seemed highly likely that the sudden wealth of his "girl friend" started him back on the booze. Furthermore both Tony and I were suspicious that he was "feeding" Judith Vodka in orange juice and probably accessing her bank account with her Debit Card. Our suspicions were alerted by Judith's sudden desire to get rid of him. He was reluctant to leave, obviously, but after much unpleasantness including a court order he was finally persuaded to leave. At one point I was forced to phone him and suggest that we knew what he was up to and that we were about to call the police and have him arrested. He was very nervous at this suggestion and this only increased my conviction that he was leading Judith astray. Tony's and my suspicions were further heightened when we had a chance to check Judith's bank statements after her death. There were numerous cash withdrawals of £400 which could not be justified by their lifestyle. We never were able to totally reconcile the cash balance of Judith's accounts so we were suspicious that monies were being "siphoned" off somehow.
 
On the road to recovery
 
It seemed that the sudden comparative wealth did not go to Judith's head. She spent several thousand pounds on improving the flat, which incidentally was rented, these tenant's improvements included new flooring throughout and a brand new John Lewis fitted kitchen with all new appliances by Neff !. (about which more later) We kept in pretty regular touch and she sent me a portion of her legacy to cover my expenses and the amount that Barbara had indicated she wanted me to have on her death. Whilst there was no formal agreement between Barbara and I she had said many times that a certain sum should be given to me as her brother and the balance was to go to her niece Emma (Wendy's daughter) During our summer 2000 visit Judith came down to Worthing and after getting over the initial shock of seeing this "little old lady" who used to be my rather pretty niece, we got on just fine. She was planning on taking some adult education courses and generally getting her life in order. Bill was off the scene and his belongings had been dumped by Judith since he never came to collect them. She had joined some sort of social network club and seemed to be gradually getting her life in order. Then she decided to needed a holiday and chose to go and "all inclusive" cruise to The Gambia. At the time the significance of the "all inclusive" part of the deal didn't occur to me. It turned out that it meant "inclusive of all meals and DRINKS". The temptation proved too much for poor Judith. She was back in a luxury environment and took full advantage of all that was offered.
  
Judith's Slippery Slope Downhill
 
My worst fears we alerted when I got a transatlantic phone call at around 8:30 one evening, in fact the evening she had returned from the cruise to Gambia. This was 1:30 in the morning UK time and she was highly excited and her speech was slightly slurred. The next day an even later call when she was almost incoherent and again very excitable, I fear she was very drunk. This was the beginning of the end for poor Judith, she was found in the street a few days later vomiting blood and only semi conscious. They rushed her to hospital, patched her up and discharged her. This happened again a couple of days later.
  
Judith dies
 
If you are particularly squeamish I suggest you skip over this next section as it contains some pretty graphic and unpleasant details.
 
Click here to skip
 
Judith's departure from this world was not pretty !! In fact it was extremely sad and one can only imagine the nightmare scenes that took place in her flat the night she died.
 
I got a call from Judith's friend Sue late in the afternoon of Wednesday March 21st 2001. She told me that Judith's neighbours had called her and said that they hadn't seen Judith for a few days and they were concerned for her health especially after the incidents reported above. They knew that Sue had a key to Judith's flat and would she please go round and check. Sue had a premonition of what had happened and refused to go round, instead she called the police. At the time of her call she was waiting to hear back from the police who were very busy but they promised to report back by midnight UK time. Just after 7:00 pm Canadian time Sue called again. She was very upset and said

 "The police had to break into Judith's flat where they found her dead".
 
I made arrangements to fly over as soon as possible and Tony and I went first to the local police station to collect a key to the flat and some personal effects. We then drove round to the flat and were totally unprepared for what we saw and found. The police sergeant had warned us that this was one of the worst incidents he had had to deal with in his long career but even this warning didn't prepare Tony & I for the shock as we pushed open the front with the lock smashed and cautiously entered the flat.
 
What hit us first was the dreadful smell! Quite indescribable! We finally traced the major source to the bedroom and the duvet. It was badly stained with what appeared to be vomit. We quickly found some large garbage bags and stuffed the offending object into one and dumped it outside. We opened every window and door we could find and gradually the smell dispersed (or we got used to it!!) The bathroom was in a disgusting state and we did the best we could to clean it up. The fridge had rotting food in it and we disposed of everything that we could. We searched the flat for paper work and anything of value that we could remove and secured the flat as best we could.
 
At this point I should mention the information that the police gave us about how they found Judith's body. After they broke in they found her between the edge of the bed and a space heater that was turned on and rather hot. They reckoned that she had choked on her vomit, tried to get out of bed the wrong side and collapsed unconscious trapped between the bed and the heater. Here she had "cooked" for around 3 days before the police found her. This is what the police pathologist reckoned. You can imagine what the smell was like when they arrived. As I've already said, the police sergeant with whom I talked said he had never attended such a bad scene.
 
 Again Tony and I arranged the funeral at Brighton crematorium since it seemed appropriate to keep the entire family together even though there had been no contact between parents and child for over 30 years.
 


Emma, Shirley Jaffe, Wendy - at Judith's wake
March 2001

Closure
 
We again had the problem of intestacy since Judith had not left a will. This was further complicated by the fact that we had to prove a) her illegitimate son had been adopted and b) her short marriage had ended in divorce. We were able to obtain the necessary documentary evidence and eventually probate was granted to Tony. This was agreed between Wendy and I as he has a legal background and had been involved with Barbara's affairs previously.
 
Tony also arranged for the flat to be cleared including what could be salvaged of the new kitchen, primarily the appliances. He also arranged for all the contents to be either disposed of or stored in a public storage area in Hove. Since there were several unanswered questions about Judith's death an inquest was necessary. Strangely enough we never got a coroner's report or for that matter a final death certificate. I have applied for a final death certificate and it will be interesting to see what arrives. (The death certificate has duly arrived, verdict "Alcohol Poisoning, Accidental Death". The Coroner's report is available but at a cost, so I shan't bother since it can't tell me anything I don't already know.
 
Eventually Tony was able to allocate all the assets between Wendy and I. He apportioned them according to our relationships and we ended up with the kitchen appliances which were installed into 47 Bath Road where they are used regularly on our annual visits. Full description of this makeover is below.


 Finally here are a couple of "before and after" photos which show the ravages that alcohol can wreak...


 
Late 20's or early 30's                            55 years old (with Bill)

The Great Kitchen debacle 2001

As a result of Judith's death Tony was finally able to settle her affairs and allocate her assets between Wendy and I. We ended up with the kitchen appliances as detailed above and a small amount of cash.

47 Bath Road with Judith's Neff Appliances

In summer of 2001 we came to England for a 6 week stay. We had decided to use Judith's appliances, Cooker, Washer, Microwave & Fridge in 47 Bath Road's kitchen. This required a considerable makeover of the kitchen and we obtained an estimate from Brian the same guy who purchased Barbara's house. He claimed to be a builder and as it turned out just employed a series of rather unreliable tradesmen. The original estimate was around £3,000 and a week or two to do the job. As you can guess these estimates were wildly off and eventually it took almost the entire 6 weeks of our stay and cost over £6,000 ! We ended up having to have the ceiling totally replaced, the floor likewise as well as all kinds of problems with the plumbing and wiring. The so called trades men, 3 in number, turned up from time to time, precisely when it suited them. We were without water in the kitchen for at least a week and had to rely on a toaster oven for cooking. It was an absolute nightmare. eventually the job was finished and with a few minor exceptions has worked out very well. The appliances have stood the test of time extremely well, all credit to Neff and good old fashioned German engineering. The one exception was the fridge which packed up within a couple of years and has since had to be replaced twice, lousy Italian or Korean engineering.

The Volvo

One good thing that resulted from the work on the kitchen was that one of the tradesmen, Bill the Carpenter, had a connection in the motor trade. I happened to mention that I was looking for a good used car and Bill phoned his friend in Epsom who had just what I was looking for. A 1986 Volvo 240 4 door saloon. Manual five speed gearbox and NO power steering. It was low mileage, I forget exactly what but certainly low for it's age. Tony drove me up to Epsom  and I duly test drove the car. It seemed perfect, the amazing thing was that it had every service record and receipt in the glove pocket since the original delivery to a Pharmacist. He was the only previous owner and was obviously a very meticulous man.  The dealer was asking £600, I offered £500 and the deal was done. I happily drove it back to Worthing  and it lasted us for a few years. There were a few minor repairs over the years but nothing substantial. It was a bit of a "B" to drive, the gearbox on that model was located above the differential on the back axle and as a result the linkage was not the most efficient. Dropping down to 2nd gear on a roundabout frequently caused much cursing. Also the steering, being non powered was very heavy. However one did feel very safe in it as it was very strongly built. I eventually sold it to my next door neighbours brother for £100, by this time it was in need of some major work and he was a bus driver and very mechanically minded.

Activities at St George's Anglican Church

During the early 2000s both Mollie and I got very involved with St. George's. We were both in the choir under the excellent direction of Bill Foley. We sang just about every week at the 10:00 am morning service and also on  special occasions such as the 2004 Lessons & Carols service. There is a video of this service on YouTube at the following link  http://youtu.be/qxKzRvvYaVw On this occasion the choir was augmented by non members from the congregation and went under the title of "The Festival Choir" The movie has a great deal of nostalgia attached to it. Not only was it taken in our "home church" but many of the congregation seen in the movie are no longer with us.

As a result of the small legacy I got from my Sister's demise I offered to instigate a St. George's website. I duly set this up with the help of the Internet Service Provider (I.S.P.) Elehost Web Design Inc, of Toronto. I acted as webmaster for a number of years and eventually handed it over to another member of the congregation, Christian Shoepke and was in the website business and he finally transferred it to a St. George's in-house team headed by Bryan Hunt.

During the early decade (actually in 2002) Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster British Columbia, rocked the N. American Anglican Church by declaring 'Same sex" marriages as being perfectly permissible in his diocese. This declaration had enormous repercussions throughout the Anglican world and there is a very good explanation of this situation by Rev David K. Short, of  St John's Shaughnessy, Vancouver at this YouTube location...
 http://youtu.be/8iBP4MNb1es     David explains the lead up to the present situation in the Anglican/Episcopal church in North America. As a result of this crisis the whole of St. George's congregants, or at least the vast majority of them, were eventually forced to vacate our church building despite strenuous efforts to maintain our building and all its many memories and contents. By an act of faith by 100 Huntley Street we were able to continue to worship in the chapel at The Crossroads Centre in Burlington.

Finally St. George's has a new home. Full details in the next section...

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