He looked like a hipster before it was unhip to be one. His name was HO, short for Hans-Otto, pronounced Hah-Oh. As kids we loved him. In the eighties he chatted with people from all over the world by radio. An aged, rattled box tossed into the back of some dingy room in his house. He had a broad, fleshly face, actually, he looked a little like Bukowski. Maybe he was a bit like him, too. Conventions did not interest him terribly, and shock was his favourite means of communicating.

Him and my aunt lived in a house with a pool, and, since they had no children the place had the aura of a factory hall to us. Mammoth! His beard was constantly unkempt, and at times I wondered if he had morsels of food from last Christmas still stuck in there. One day he set out to bite my tummy, and I literally imagined he would move his head back with a huge shred of torn flesh stuck to his teeth and obviously his beard.

He was a baptist pastor who was unlike any other baptist pastor.Although he and his wife have not been living together for years they remain married, yet another thing no one really understands. I miss him at family gatherings. He made us kids laugh. I wonder if now, thirty years on, he would still have us in stitches? One saying that would make us choke with laughter was what he said before excusing himself for the loo: I have to abseil something. HO! Hohoho!


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