The book consists of seven true short stories in which my cousin Fred, along with my brother Frank, played a dominant part. I would hope that the reader gathers up Fred’s character as he or she reads the seven stories. Fred made a lot of enemies in his lifetime, the most venomous being himself. Fred left the army in the early fifties during a period of austerity and very quickly discovered that jobs were scarce and there was no post military assistance, as there is today, in employment seeking. Fred served seven years in Palestine, Egypt and other areas in the Middle East and was then simply demobilized to join the job queues without being provided with any trade, training or guidance in how to find work. Fred very quickly gave up the vain search for employment and sought to befriend the gangster community who he regarded as successful when he saw them drive big shiny black limousines and frequent clubs in the West End of London- some of which they owned. They formed a liking for him. He had film star looks, was charming and when he sang he sang with emphasis on the words which took on a meaning and the women adored him. Sadly all these plusses were counter balanced to zero by his inability to hold or control his drinking. He found himself on the receiving end of some horrific sickening attacks of a physical nature none of which brought about a rethink of his drinking habits. Fred’s assets of looks, charm, authoritative voice, singing voice and natural presence were all negated by his weakness- drink. In self- destruct mode, he converted his assets into dust and I, on numerous occasions, stood there helpless and unable to stop him. When I reached seventeen to eighteen years of age he took me on as his protégé with the intention of teaching me what life was all about and the stories that make up this book are just a few examples of the lessons and my development under Fred’s tuition. Our campus was East London and my tuition fees were paid in every kind of hurt imaginable and his inimitable style of dividing the spoils ensured that my tuition fees were also paid in cash. Despite his well documented faults, a day spent with Fred could be funny because he failed to realise how outrageous he was. Also amusing was his inability and refusal to accept a setback and my efforts to include this part of his character in the stories is intentional and I trust will enable the reader to appreciate the humour in an otherwise tragic story. I have resisted the temptation to fictionalise in search of ironic or anecdotal conclusions but have allowed the individual stories to end factually.
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by John Haynes
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by on January 17, 2017
- Xlibris UK, October 2011
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