Bizarrely, the seed for this idea came one summer’s day, back in the mid Nineties. I had just said goodbye to mother-in-law when I noticed a blob of jelly at my feet in our back garden. But 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 that clutched to every corner of the house. And we had to assume there were anxious parents watching somewhere from surrounding undergrowth.
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. It grew into the family, came for drives in the car and, when it got 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 – which wasn’t very welcomed by 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. When it got stronger, we would take 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 days 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
About the Author
Peter Gray was born in Dublin, Ireland, during World War II, coming at the tail end of a very large family. First educated by Christian Brothers, he later studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin.
After three years spent in a mixed agricultural practice in Devon, England, he set up business in Fermoy, Co. Cork, where he became part of a developing Thoroughbred horse breeding industry that was then in its infancy.
This experience is reflected in his Allen Series books and in those on soundness and pre-purchase examinations, the latter having come from time working in international sales arenas.
He moved to England in the mid Eighties and resumed practice in the Midlands, where he wrote his equestrian books published under the J. A. Allen and David & Charles imprints.
His clinical experience is reflected in these books which cover the expansion of his interests into performance, athletic injuries and rehabilitation.
Telemachus was written after a family experience in nurturing a baby housemartin. The story began as an attempt to trace the migration path and life of the birds, but grew into something more complicated.
Premonition – A Story of Ireland is a memoir. It pursues the path of his life but extends far beyond that to follow the changing face of a country that had had its own wars and managed to emerge into the light of freedom.