A word from the author
I felt these few words were necessary because of the complexity of the character Cornelius Randolph. From the outset I (the author) wanted a plausible character to live in and adapt to an implausible situation. I found the responses I wanted from Cornelius were not what I would call normal.
I needed reasons for these responses and felt it could only come from life experience. At 92 yrs Cornelius had life experience in abundance. His great age and extremely poor quality of life led him to believe he was 'dead', but no one had given him permission to lie down and his stubborn attitude in the face of adversity would not allow him to do it for them. 'They want me, they can damn well come and get me'.
The following potted biography (emphasis on potted) of Cornelius helped me greatly to produce this character and I hope it helps the reader to understand some of his reactions and make them more plauseable.
Born 10\11\1922 in a slum section of the East End.
1923 age 5 months. Parents died of TB. Grandmother born and bred in the East End stepped in to bring him up.
1925 age 3 years. Diagnosed damaged by forceps at birth he was prescribed his first pair of glasses.
1927 age 5 years. He started school. It was the beginning of hell on Earth. Children are very cruel, especially when you wear two milk bottle bottoms secured to your face by bits of wire. Fighting back made for unpopularity by both staff and pupils. A bitter loner was forged.
1936 age 14 years. Left school a confirmed loner, rough, tough and belligerent; his treatment at school led him to expect nothing from those in authority. Immediately started work and began learning to earn money via manual labour, in a new location. Grandmother had waited until school was out to move out of the East End.
1939 age 17 years. War broke out with no immediate effect.
1940 age 18 years. Call up. He was rejected by the Military because of his eyes. Otherwise declared fit and ordered to a reserved occupation, farming. A new type of life with new skills to learn. Not particularly onerous as hard work was no stranger and a plethora of young widows and Land Army girls were only too pleased to introduce a callow youth into to the ways of pleasuring women. Such was the shortage of men.
1946 age 24 years. Released from reserved occupation he returned to his Grandmother's home. There was so much work about and so little labour that the money was good and the fiddles were awesome. 70% of a week's wages could be earned per day on the fiddle. Transport clothes and a good lifestyle were there for the taking. Obliging widows were available in abundance.
1960 age 38 years. Work was still easy come by, widows and fiddles less so. Dolly birds were coming on line. He was swiftly becoming the 'oldest swinger in town'
1968 age 46 years. Grandmother who was 89 and who would have had to attend the doctors to enquire about symptoms for the common cold should she want one fixed breakfast, sat in her chair and died. Verdict natural causes. Cornelius lost the only person he truly cared for.
1969 age 47 years. Grandmother's death left an emotional need to find somewhere else to live. A long standing mutually beneficial relationship with a widow a couple of years his senior resulted in a marriage. There was no burning love just mutual respect for each others space and agreement on division of labour. However commitment was given and received. The liquidation of Grandmother's place allowed the widow's two up, two down to be bought with some left over.
1981 age 59 years. Bad prostate surgery meant erections became a memory and added to Cornelius's bitter attitude.
1984 age 62 years. She died of cancer; he survived a massive heart attack. It took surgery and 18 months convalescence before they wrote him off to six monthly checks. A pension was arranged that became an 'old age' pension at the right time. He was then kicked out to grass.
1986 age 64 years. Home alone, very weak, on a low fixed income and unable to tend the property a smaller place was looked for. As luck would have it a three roomed plus WC ground floor flat, on the end of a block, at the edge of town came up for rent, cheap, owing to the location. He was probably the only person in the entire block that wasn't either on drugs or an unmarried mother. An even more reclusive lifestyle was entered into. Apart from a few household necessities, books and his collection of tools every thing in the house was liquidated and the town house sold in a matter of days.
1990 age 68 years. Reasonably recovered by now but knowing full health was a thing of the past negotiations with the landlord were entered into. He knew that his tenancy was legally secure unless he done something to 'blot his copybook'. A request was made to allow him to modernise the kitchen and bathroom. The landlord was agreeable with the proviso his own man oversaw all works, for this inconvenience he would pay 5% of the cost. The landlord wanted a piece of paper to cover his arse. It worked out very well; the landlord's man knew exactly what was needed and where to get it at the right price, if you had folding stuff to pay for it. The job came in quickly and under budget.
2000 age 78 years. Stents had been fitted to keep the legs working and the dwindling money supply purchased a half decent Japanese car that should last 'long enough'. Cornelius had discovered computers, in came Windows Millennium and the internet and out went the TV. Mr Thug Cat walked through the back door. Needless to say Kissy-Kat soon appeared on the weekly shopping list. His general health was slowly declining.
2014 age 92 years. Aliens made a house call. Shit or go blind, take your choice. It was actually a no brainer for Cornelius. Near blindness had been a lifelong companion and held no fears for him. Shit on the other hand had to be cleaned up and that smelt of hard work. Blind trust or a quick death was better than the living hell he had persuaded himself he was enduring.
The preceding list was of help to me to build the character of Cornelius and I hope will be of some help to the reader in finding understanding and enjoyment instead of incredulity at some attitudes and reactions of Cornelius.