There are not too many readers of this blog that will know Stanley Handcock, my great uncle. Some of the people who attended the Strasbourg Congress of JEF in October 2005 might recall that he was the unknown federalist I mentioned in my parting speech.

It has always been immensely inspiring to me that someone of a completely different generation, with a completely different academic background, can come to very similar views about the future of Europe as I have. Stanley left school at 14 and worked on the railways for most of his life. He and my aunt Betty have lived in the same house for half a century, and have been married for more than 60 years.

Yet things are not good for Stan – his health is worsening fast and I cannot know whether I will see him again. I fear there will not be any postcards from me to him from far-off places. No more of the chats about the major issues of world politics. When I last saw him on Boxing Day he was full of life, joking with the nurses in the hospital in his soft way, and saying how worried he was for my generation as a result of climate change. “We won’t have to face those problems, us oldies” he said.

So while I sit here, working on political websites to do my little bit to improve the politics of the country, that work is some small way for you Uncle Stan.

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