Thursday 24 March, 2022 INDEX

A Frank farewell
Frank Brown is dead, news that will probably not mean much to any but my most long standing friends; since Frank was reclusive by nature and for at least the last Covid cursed years rarely went out.

He suffered a heart attack last Friday that caused severe brain injury and died through natural causes a couple of days ago.

Until quite recently he was banged up in a psycho geriatric unit, that perhaps might more accurately be described as a loony bin, in Dumfries. There they diagnosed severe heart problems. It was the first time the psychiatric system actually told Frank anything useful, despite several lengthy encounters with it over the last several decades.

I told him that if there was something wrong with his heart he needed to go to a specialist cardiac unit, not an institution dealing with mental disorders, but Frank assured me that it wasn't life threatening.

Though Frank was a charmer who could be good company, if he wanted to be, he had a tendency to find the worst conceivable thing and then say it about himself. He was extraordinarily self destructive probably because he never recovered from the death of a child and the disruption of an intensely close relationship he had with another of his children, when a marriage broke up.

He clearly blamed himself and took his grief to his grave.

He made two very serious attempts to commit suicide, the latter one fundamentally damaging his long term health.

He also managed to make some incredibly powerful enemies and had some almost surreal encounters with the police. On one occasion he was arrested and charged with harassment of a person who never made any accusation against him, on the basis that he had allegedly driven past the house this person was living in. In the court hearing screens were put up to protect the identities of the people who were attempting to bring about this travesty of justice. I was there. I saw it.

Although Frank was clever, university educated and worldly wise; he also had a strange tendency to be very gullible and believe the most unlikely stories. And he loved to buy things. This was probably his greatest joy in later life.

So when some con artists, allegedly from Africa, got in touch with him via social media, he bought a ticket and set off for Nigeria. Fortunately, the authorities wouldn't let him board the plane. I don't think he had the right visa.

The conmen turned to blackmail and not long afterwards indecent images of Frank appeared on WhatsApp groups in Millom, Cumbria, where Frank lived.

Frank believed that most of the people of Millom hated him, but I will miss the 6 a.m. phone calls I had been getting from him on and off for years.

I don't think he did anyone harm and, though some certainly feared him, he did me a lot of good.
Jonathan Brind
Thursday 24 March, 2022