At this time of the year there is often a page in the newspapers giving a brief outline of the legends who have died in the year just ended. Like many of you, I suspect, I read them and travel down memory lane with a mixture of sadness and wonder. During the year others die, and are remembered. Most of them ” a credit to the community of which they formed a part”, and ” a source of sunshine to those who knew them”. They will all be sorely missed etc.
In many cases I am sure this is true. But surely there must be other unwritten obituaries of those who have had their moment in the national or local press. Looking at holiday photographs, with everyone smiling and tucking into hangover free drinks, I wonder where are the photographs from the holiday from hell. You know, the one with Auntie Carol being sick down the front off the wine waiter’s shirt after an extended chat with the margaritas, or a picture of a selection of cockroaches dancing across the hotel suite just before you try to go to sleep.
In the same vein, I wondered where the obituaries of the rotters and swindlers went. I could find no trace of any acknowledged villains other than Hitler and that pastry chef at the bottom of Wilmot Avenue. To help redress the balance I decided to write one myself as a template for future obituaries.
“Slippery” Norman Olthwaite 1938- 2012
Norman Olthwaite, more commonly known as “Slippey”, born on Febuary 13th, 1938 to “Smasher” Olthwaite, a local protection Baron, and his wife Elsie, famous for promoting the benefits of food poisoning, died following an overdose of carpet cleaner at his apartments yesterday afternoon. The youngest of five children, Slippey soon made his name, at the age of seven, by swelling his lunch money selling diluted lemonade to naive classmates. A profitable sideline bought to an abrupt halt by his expulsion once the enterprise came to the notice of his teachers.
After qualifying as an accountant through a combination of mistaken identity and good fortune, Slippey built a career by signing off company accounts, whatever their merits, in an exchange for an inflated fee and a bottle or two of his favourite tipple. Another period of fortune bought to an abrupt halt, but this time by the tax authorities once his methods became clear. Following a short trial he was invited to spend a number of years, free of charge, at one of the government’s specially built hotels.
On his release he forged a new and succesful enterprise as a confidence trickster and serial bigamist. The acknowledged father of one son, he is widely reputed to have fathered a number of other children during his extensive travels on the edges of civilisation. He became a recognised expert in separating wealthy ladies from their inheritance. A profitable source of income reluctantly terminated after discussions with the local police . His unwavering charm and good looks served him well, and he was always the soul of courtesy with all with whom he came into contact. He made a brief name for himself by wishing the judge a happy new year on the way to a period of incarceration following his appearance in a court of law.
A skillful cheat and swindler he was never without a pack of cards, brandy and cigars, and could normally oil money out of anyone with whom he came into contact. He will not be entirely missed. particularly by nine of his surviving wives. A lover of other people’s money, his oldest friend, who had known him for over three weeks said, “Slippey will always be remembered for his fund of great stories”.