Mike - just how I remember him
Mike was a very skilled builder and decorator and that is how he made his living. He would buy a house that was tatty but just about OK to live in and he would transform it. I saw loads of "before and after" photos of projects he had done and it was amazing what he could achieve.
He would sell the improved house at a good profit and use some of the money to buy another house to start working on. But in the gap between finishing one house and starting on the next he used to do something very strange - he would go on a quite long and expensive sea cruise. I can remember at least 10 of these cruise he did and he must have seen more of the world than most people. I was quite jealous when he visited Antarctica and when another time he went to New Zealand.
Another strange thing he used to do was to suddenly get bored of where he was living so he would pick somewhere almost at random and move there. When I first met him he was living in Watford, then it was Taunton, then Hull and finally Chester. He used to say that he had never had a home as a grown-up. He just had places where he lived. I have heard other foster children say that as well so perhaps it is a common feeling to have?
Mike never married but he had lots a lady friends. Sometimes in his letters I could tell that part of his brain wanted to settle down while the other part was so restless that settling down to married life was never going to happen.
Mike was a fixed point in my life. Part of my weekly routine and somebody I could share things with that might seem strange to a non-fostered person. He helped me sort out my wife’s funeral and that was typical of the man he was. I think he deserved better than he got from his life. Hardly anybody made the effort to go his funeral and there were less than ten of us there.