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My uncle John died early today.

He'd been in intensive care for about a week with a number of serious conditions and finally succumbed. His two daughters were with him; his wife had died some years earlier.

Fortunately, I was able to spend a little time with him this summer up at his cottage in Suffolk. I did not know him very well – we always seemed to be on different continents. Either him in Africa and me in England or him in England and me in the U.S.A. So we didn't see a lot of each other.

I liked him. True, he was opinionated and very fussy in his ways, frugal to an excess, and known, certainly in his earlier years, for little restraint with alcohol. None of this really mattered – he was smart, thoughtful, often wise and insightful and refreshingly frank about his feelings and desires. If I lived with him, this might have all been a bit too much but I didn't.

He was full of stories, having worked as a dentist, played as an actor and, in sport, for England in rugby. As a British army dentist, he tended to one of the leading Nazis, Rudolf Hess, and still has that war criminal's tooth. I wonder what will happen to it now?

I'll miss him.

(That's me with John and my dad on the left)

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