My Uncle Johnny, my Dad's brother, was born on 26th January, 1935. He died this afternoon, aged 74.
When I was a kid he was my favourite relative. I looked forward to his visits with glee because he always brought us presents - sometimes more lavish than Mum & Dad would have liked. For my first (I think) birthday, he bought me a top-notch Scalextric kit. No matter that I wouldn't have the wherewithal to play with it for another 4 or 5 years, at least. With no wife or kids of his own, and after spending most of his life living at the family home, I guess he could afford to spoil all his nieces and nephews.
One glorious day, in the early 1980s I guess, he turned up driving a fantastic sports car, the like of which I'd never seen before. It was an MG TF, built in 1954. British racing green - as all sports cars should be. Imagine the thrill when he took me for a drive on the recently completed motorway round the corner. The car had been slowly and carefully rebuilt from scratch after it had a "prang" many years earlier (early '60s?), if I remember rightly. Johnny told my Dad that he wanted me to have the car someday. But some time ago he needed money to live on and sold the car to my other uncle. It sits in a garage now, waiting restoration one more time. I couldn't afford to store it anyway...
Johnny and Dad shared the same sense of humour and there was rarely a time when a joke wasn't far from his lips. In recent years, he "let himself go" as people like to say. His long, unkempt beard and habit of answering the door in his underwear could be off-putting, to say the least. And while he spent most of the last 10 or 15 years in the pub smoking his roll-ups, surely a factor in his demise, it never really dulled his intellect.
The last time I saw Johnny was not long after my Nan's funeral. Astonishingly and shamefully, that was nearly 3 years ago. I had 'planned' to go and visit him 'sometime'. To pick his still-sharp mind about the family history and the mysterious fate of his own uncle, their Dad's brother, while he was still around to do so. Too late now...
Johnny was a talented artist; a keen rifleman; and a kind, generous person. He was unique. I'll miss him.
Raymond John Moore, 1935 - 2009. RIP.