Mr Jonny sets us right

Jack at St BeesToday I learnt that when Uncle Jonny wasn’t travelling light, teaching the young or lending a supportive shoulder, he loved to consider the fun he was having and he would write a poem about it. Perhaps I have somehow inherited this desire for expression through my ponderings. Anyway, I’m going to try to hunt down some of these poems – there’s one about Spring, I know for sure – because we could do with some of his characteristic cheeriness, not to mention his wise words, at this dark and turbulent time. I would like to emulate his kind of optimism! Here he is, overlooking gorgeous St Bees, smiling broadly from the cliff at the beginning of the Coast to Coast Walk. He always managed to look happy, which is a real gift. The Great Spirit obviously moved through him when he was with us, visible in all our pictures of him where joy is unconfined. What a loving boy he was. A slave to his digestive incidents throughout his long life, he certainly knew what it was to suffer from his tummy and many’s the time he would woof once in the night to summon help so he could trundle into the garden to try to find relief – often long in coming – as Kemo Sabe kept watch through the bathroom window to see if it was time to call him in. Talk about chimes at midnight, eh Jack? Just the one woof; nothing unbridled, like me. Class. At the time this picture was taken his tummy was particularly bad, and the search was on for food which would soothe and suit him better. Though he was bleeding as the irritation was so bad he was still full of glee, despite the lady vet’s thermometer which made him squeal. Hardly a holiday without a trip to the vet’s, they’d say. Why do we think of you so much, dear Jonny? On Sunday, your great-nephew, Barnaby Rudge, will be four. He will not get the hamster he has long wanted and hopefully added to the weekly shopping list but he will be keeping the Tilldawn flame alive, dutifully dawdling among the elderly – among them Old Man Ten Blankets – bringing a golden glow to complexions pale as milk. Contorted limbs will reach to cradle his beautiful head as we so often cradled yours. The sparrows chirrup for the seed on your grave each day, in Dostoevsky’s way. We know who to ask if we don’t know what to do: the communication just goes on and on.

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