Photo credit: Elsie Pinder.  Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Now, you’re thinking, just when I thought FATman couldn’t get any weirder, he comes up with this!  More to the point, what’s he on? And yes, I do know, now, that there’s Life on Mars …

So, what has happened to warrant this really quite unreasonable outburst on your part?  Well, you’ve found a post entitled My brother George only to find that, on opening it, there is the picture of a cat.  Could happen anywhere in the blogosphere.  Probably happens in some places all the time …  Well, here’s the story.

I’m an only child, with all that entails.  And I was born into a household that consisted of my parents and a big tom cat called George, who was then around two years old.  So he was there, he was with me from the beginning – and he apparently used to stand up on his back legs, put his forelegs on the side of my pram, and stare in at me – probably wondering if he was allowed to eat me.  I had no siblings and so, in effect, he was my brother.  He was two years older than me, and he was always, always there throughout my boyhood.  And he died at about the age of 15 – that is, when I was 13 – and even now, 54 years later, I think of him, often, and I miss him – which must say something.

And I have remained with a great love and appreciation for cats, and have been very close to some really big ones in East Africa – and fantasised about having a Cheetah as a pet – what beauty, what grace, what presence!  But no, before you ask, I’ve never again owned a cat of any sort – for no particular reason I suppose; things have just turned out that way.

George would sometimes stay out all night, around the garden and countryside in which was set our hilltop house.  And, after some of these nocturnal forays, a  favourite memory is of the means he devised of getting back into our home’s warmth before our family was generally up and about.  From our back lawn, he would jump up with that the ease that cats have onto the top of a wooden fence, probably about five feet off the ground.  Moving along the top of this fence brought him onto the glass roof of our conservatory which, mercifully, could support his weight.  And so across this glass roof, and up to the top of another, steep roof, which was just below my bedroom window.

And in all weathers, exposed as we were to the western gales coming in off the Atlantic, George would perch on the ridge of that roof, reach up with one foot, put his claws out, and bang on my window.  And this little boy would be out of bed in an instant, calling to him to hang on and, opening the curtains, look down at him being buffeted by the elements.  Holding onto the window for dear life with two hands, I’d open it and he’d jump nimbly up onto the sill.

And there was one final obstacle for him, for in those days I was an avid collector of rocks, minerals and fossils – a prelude to becoming a professional geologist in later years – and the window ledge was covered in my geological samples, each with a neatly typed label >>> and he would come in across that window ledge without disturbing a single thing.  Impressive is simply not the word.

And, since this is the only memorial that this long-dead little creature is going to get – this creature who now lives on only in my mind  – I must tell you this.  Simple question – what did George eat, what did he exist on?  Well, apart from whatever he may have killed or found outdoors, indoors he did pretty well!  I can’t remember if there were tinned cat foods around in the 1950s but, even if there were, they weren’t for him!  For my father was a butcher, who would bring home vast amounts of raw beef for him – he probably got through more steak than anyone else around!  And if he couldn’t have steak, my mother would buy cod from the fishmonger, and serve it up to him cooked piping hot, along with a crushed up tablet of Tibbs healthy cat medicine!  We were a middle class family who – then! – had some money, and my parents evidently thought cod beneath us, as we always ate plaice – and it was only later on in life, after I’d left home, that I found cod was pretty damned good too!

Mostly I loved George, but I recall a few times when I was unkind to him, and I continue to regret those times bitterly.  But, two great truths – first, I was young, unformed and uninformed then, and had not the compassion I now feel for all creatures.  And, second, I know only too well that the past cannot be rewritten, it is immutable, unless of course you’re a politician.

This photo was taken by our neighbour Elsie in her garden.  She loved George too, and always welcomed him.  And she gave this photo to my mother, who kept it with her for the rest of her life.  Elsie died, aged 86, in 2005.  My mother preceded her by two years, and so this picture has passed to me  – and I am delighted to have been able to scan it and present it here.

We all have our own beliefs, and one of mine is that, after death, there is only oblivion.

But, should that not be the case, I wonder where George is now?





About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

10 Responses to PEOPLE 259 – MY BROTHER GEORGE (MONO)

  1. Meanderer says:

    I really enjoyed reading about George, Adrian. How lovely that your memories of him are still so strong.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, M. Yes my memories of him – and my affection for him too – are strong, and I value these emotions. Maybe its the getting old thing, and maybe also he was a really good part of a childhood that, a little after he died, fell apart. A


  2. Sallyann says:

    I was astonished to see a cat when I looked in the other day hoping to meet your brother, but you’re forgiven, your tale of George (such a great name, I contemplated changing my name to George as a young tomboy – encouraged by an Enid Blyton character in one of the few books I actually read) your tale of George reminded me of another window, many, many moons ago.

    I was forever getting into trouble as a little girl (note the word little here) trouble for forgetting my keys.
    In our house, the bathroom and toilet room were separate, and downstairs, the tiny window to the toilet room opening out to the back yard. If I had forgotten my keys I would have to scale the back wall, not really much of a feat as it wasn’t one of those smooth brick walls of today, it was made up of huge grey chunks of stone. I’d have to go down the steps to the small yard, but from about the second step up, I could reach across and stand on the small windowsill. The window was always open slightly and by turning my head sideways I could just squeeze through, hands first, then head, then I would catch hold of the windowsil inside and pull myself through. There was no room to bend my legs, or to get my knees through the window one at a time. I just had to rely on gravity to pull me inside and in a downward direction until I arrived in a crumpled pile on the floor next to the toilet.

    Funny how some things we do remember isn’t it.


  3. bluebrightly says:

    Sweet…and I’m with you on the animals and afterlife topics, totally…I love the image of George stepping with that feline nimble ease across the rock samples, and the little typed labels brought back memories of that, because that’s how it was done back then. It’s good that Elsie gave your mother the photo.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Lynn, I’m very glad you like this post, George still means vast amounts to me – which is why I was moved to make the post in the first place. Yes, its so good that the photo has been passed on. And its a sunny Sunday, and I’m about to subside and grow mellow with some Belgian beers of truly world class quality – Duvel, and some products of the Trappist monastery at Westmalle. I wish you both a good Sunday. A 🙂


  4. paula graham says:

    Yes, that is the eternal question. There are those who say there is not heaven for animals…but we are animals of a higher order (perhaps)…so…?


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Because you are a very valued friend, I will moderate my replies. We are ALL animals, we just happen to be the most (as far as we know) intelligent animals on this planet. Apart from our intelligence, we are nothing special at all, and thinking of anything like a higher order is just not something I go along with. But, notwithstanding all our intelligence, we have throughout history divided ourselves into groups, clans, tribes, nations, you name it, and made quite a good job of being oppressive or lethal to other groups, etc, while waving a flag, believing god is on our side, etc, etc. And when we get something hugely beneficial and informative like the internet, what happens? Well, quite a few of us use it for “good causes” – whereas others use it for criminal gain, oppression, political strife, mayhem, etc, etc. Haha! >>> am I a bit cynical about us??? As always, I try to be realistic. A 😀


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