Bizarrely, the seed for this idea came one summer’s day, back in the mid Nineties. I had just said goodbye to my mother-in-law when I noticed a blob of jelly at my feet in our back garden. It was a breathing blob with tiny eyes and a miniature beak; perhaps a hint of some very primitive feathers. Being an animal person, I couldn’t just let it die, so, with my two daughters, we constructed a nest and wondered about how we might feed this tiny creature -presuming it to be a baby housemartin. There was a broken nest overhead after a violent storm the previous night – one of a whole colony of nests that clutched to every corner of our house. And we had to assume there were anxious parents watching somewhere from surrounding trees.
Anyway, we were successful. For weeks, the girls knocked on neighbours’ doors, initially asking if they had any flies we could feed to ‘George’ (as this little creature became known) – not that we had any idea of it’s sex, simply decided it was a boy. As it grew into the family, George came for drives in the car and, when tired of watching TV in the evenings, would climb up under my shirt collar and go to sleep.
We fed it cat food with surgical forceps – not very popular with Clouseau, the cat. Then it started to fly. As it wasn’t growing very well, we had to keep it in the hot press at night for added heat. Then, when it got stronger, we took it outside for flying practice; but, one day, it spotted an open window in the kitchen – and was gone.
Bereft, we searched our valley for hours on end, calling, crying out, pleading for it to come back – but we never got a glimpse of George again.
Telemachus was my attempt to trace its path in life, but it became a lot more than that. From a simple story of adventure, it became a construction of society, a search for ideals, a questioning of all that we humans have and, perhaps, abuse.
“This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle, -.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My Telemachus is a different kind of fish, a relic of the scary stories we were told as kids, intended to frighten us in primitive times – when there was no electricity and the world was haunted by things that moved in the night.
About Peter Gray
I was born in Dublin, a long time ago, at the tail end of a very large family. My father was a Commandant in the Irish Army; my mother, who was only 4’ 10”, had a burning desire to produce sons – with a hope that one would become a priest. Sadly, she was disappointed in that.
We were a whole range of individuals, all with different tastes, talents and careers. The eldest, May, had a Masters in chemistry, but got married young and never worked again. The next, Ned, was called to the Bar, but went into the Civil Service and had a sparkling career that ended prematurely when the plane he was traveling in went down in London in 1972.
Ned loved everything classical, also loved rugby, but was un-athletic. Mick loved jazz, Patsy loved ballet and opera. So, being a tail-ender, I was bathed in all of that; and the love of literature came really from the atmosphere they all created as well as some excellent lay teachers I met at school.
The decision to study veterinary medicine was probably in the genes, as there was farming in the blood for generations. As a kid, I was farmed out to farmer relatives for all of my youthful holidays. Apparently, I was too active for those at home and had to be got rid of.
And that’s been my life: my first career was on the sports’ fields of Dublin; my next among Thoroughbred breeding stock and racehorses; my next with a pen and computer.
I’ve loved every minute and have been blessed with a wonderful wife and some very exceptional children.
From Sara: Make sure you check out Peter’s book Telemachus here!