[Image: A grainy picture of an Indian man who is waving]
Part 27 of a series of posts honoring the Grenfell Tower victims.
Joseph Daniels, from the 16th floor of Grenfell Tower
Joseph Daniels was 69 years old and suffered from dementia.
He was from Lucknow in India, and the son of a brigadier. In younger life he served in the Indian air force, and then worked in security at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
He was a Christian who loved music, bodybuilding, and Elvis
Presley. He married a woman called Lucy Daniels, and although they eventually divorced he had one son with her, Sam. Sam became his full-time carer after the dementia took hold, and was with him the night the fire started. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his father’s condition, Sam couldn’t get him out of the building. He alerted firefighters, but the firefighters didn’t find him. Sam said at the inquiry that he believed the firefighters got lost on the way to his father’s flat owing to the council not labelling the floors of Grenfell Tower correctly. “He never stood a chance of getting out. It should never have happened,” he said.
A letter exists on the internet which appears to be from Lucy Daniels, regarding the funeral of her ex-husband:
“The Service was simple and beautiful and Sam was able to
bestow dignity on his father which the horror of his death in Grenfell Tower had tried to rob from him.”
Before any funerals, while Joe was still listed amongst the missing, Sam’s uncle Patrick Smyth wrote a letter to the Irish Times condemning the lack of care which led to the Grenfell fire.
Why no fire breaks on the walls? Why were no internal or
external sprinklers installed in the £10 million refurbishment? Was the latter just a cosmetic exercise? Why did the central alarms not work? Why no second staircase? And no floor numbering on the stairs?
We join demos at the town hall and in Westminster, a mix of
inchoate, justifiable local rage at the unnecessary tragedy and ritual chants of “May out”, somehow tone deaf to what these people need now. But people feel the need to do something.
My sister, Sam’s mum, a one-time leader of the Grenfell tenants, hums again and again an old family favourite about the Titanic: “But the dirty cowards hid and denied the things they did. It was sad, it was sad when that great ship went down…”