The Late, Great Mr. Harry Meadows

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


This week seems to be turning into a bit of a tribute week. Yesterday I paid tribute to Stephen Pile who was the worst founder of a club ever! Today I would like to take a little time to pay my tribute to Mr Harry Meadows.

I’ll come back to Harry in a moment. First a general comment. Old folk are peculiar at times. As I get older myself I understand more and more why. But despite my tolerance level for idiots heading inexorably towards zero, I’d like to think that even in my later years, if I am spared, I would retain my sense of humor. I would hate to just become another miserable old ‘git’.

Speaking of which, when one of my aunts died a lot of years ago, I was helping to make the funeral arrangements, part of which involved organizing the undertaker. When he arrived at the Nursing Home she had been staying in to do his thing I noticed that he was in a van and not a hearse.

Always curious, I asked him why this was the case. “Oh dear,” he said. “You have no idea. We were forced to buy the van for coming to places like this. If we arrived here in the hearse it caused so much distress and panic amongst the residents who all thought their time had come and we were there for them that the Home owners all demanded that we get a different form of transport or lose the business.” So now you know.


Back to Harry Meadows.

I have no doubt that most, if not all, of you will never have heard of Harry. He wasn’t a famous man, didn’t invent anything special, wasn’t a public personality, in fact he was just an ordinary person like the rest of us.

Except one thing he did have in common with me at any rate was a sense of humor, and one that was right on the edge.

Harry was a resident at an old peoples’ home in the 1960s. It was called the Haslemere Home for the Elderly and it was located in Great Yarmouth in Britain. Haslemere, at that time anyway, had the largest elderly population in the country.

The Home had first hit the headlines in September 1960, when another of the residents, 81 years young Gladys Elton, decided it would be good fun and would break the monotony of the place if she performed a striptease, which she duly did.

Unfortunately Gladys must have been hot stuff, too hot in fact, because the excitement she generated with her performance was too much for one of the male residents who as a result died of cardiac arrest. Five more of the inmates of the Home also had to be treated for shock.

Old Gladys must have been quite a ‘goer’!

So what about Harry Meadows?

Well Harry didn’t take part in the striptease, but the following year, in 1961, Harry who at the time was 87 years old, thought it would be funny if he dressed up as the Grim Reaper. He duly did so and then from outside the Home, peered through the windows complete with a scythe in hand.

Unfortunately Harry had an even bigger effect on the inmates than Gladys. This time three of them died of shock at seeing the Grim Reaper outside their window!

The Home was subsequently closed. I don’t know what happened to Harry.


Is this tragic or funny? To me it’s funny that it happened and tragic that there are not more people in the world like Gladys and Harry.



9 thoughts on “The Late, Great Mr. Harry Meadows

    • I think it’s very funny, in spite of the consequences. Great to keep your sense of humor as you get older. Thanks for dipping into the archives.

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