From the earliest age he was soft. It is true that he would sometimes lose his temper, but, like Rumpelstiltskin, he would become so furious that his demands would be resisted or ignored. The rest of the time he was soft and pliable, anxious to please and never to offend. He was very polite, annoyingly complimentary and unusually diplomatic for a man. When listening to people, he would stare dolefully at their right eyes. If they were boring, he would translate their words into punctuated text in his mind to keep himself sufficiently entertained, so that he could keep up the pretence that he was vitally interested in what they said. Consequently he was the least influential person I ever knew. He could not persuade a chocolate bar out of a paper bag, as his own mother used to say of him. On the other hand, he seldom got blamed for anything, although, as a boy, he was as naughty as any child. He would stare wide eyed when accused and was almost always judged to be innocent or at least not culpable. His passivity passed for wisdom, his gentleness passed for kindness and his lack of commitment passed for lack of overriding ambition. He floated through life like a fish that let the river sweep him where it would. He never turned around and swam against the current or even across it. He was, however, content and mainly happy in his own company, even if his company with others seldom affected them for the good or the bad. He was a cipher. He was the nowhere man.