Jonathan Brown: 'Everybody loved Vince. I hope that when I die, I'll be as fondly remembered'

Home And Away

Share
Related Topics

I paused a while this week to pay my own tribute to Vince. It is a month since this much-loved stalwart of our local community died – left for dead by the side of the road after being hit by car.

In the days following his tragic and sudden demise, the floral tributes and messages of grief slowly built at his favourite bench on York's Bishopthorpe Road, where he would pause to watch the world go by and catch up with some of his many friends. When I visited the other day, however, I found the tributes had been stripped down to a single drooping flower and a plaque bearing the simple but eloquent epitaph: Vince – Everybody loved him.

I would like to think that when it is my turn to go something similar might sum up the general sense of despair and universal fond remembering that surrounds my passing. Unlikely I know, because I am merely human and Vince, of course, was a cat. Much of Vince's appeal, it seems, lay in his habit of following people to their homes as they got off the bus after work or escorting them down to the parade of shops. Being a cat that hated being indoors, needless to say he got into his fair share of scrapes and his owners conceded that he had used up all nine lives by the time the fatal collision occurred.

What got me thinking about Vince was news from another part of the North that a memorial has been planned to honour Bee Bee, a little black hen which lived along the roadside on the busy A66 in Cumbria. Another small, lamented victim of Britain's overcrowded roads, Bee Bee died on the stretch of highway she had made her own after escaping from her allotment home at Great Broughton, near Cockermouth. Motorists used to toot their horn each time they passed her by as she strolled around pecking in the dust and more than 200 joined a memorial site on Facebook to pay their respects.

The subject of animals has made a surprising return to my own household in recent days. Having deftly palmed off the family cat when we moved north last year we have been happily pet-free for the last 12 months. Twinkle, as she was rather lamely christened by my three-year-old daughter, had been taken in on a whim after she was discovered lost in the street one night shortly before Christmas. She in turn was replacing a previous cat that on a similarly rash impulse I had acquired as a tiny kitten on returning from the student union bar one lunch time in the early 1990s. Mau Mau followed me around over the following years and escorted me through all the major landmarks in early adult life – graduation, first job, marriage and children.

But when her time was up I felt only fleeting sorrow and vowed never to share my home with a non-human again. So it was with some surprise and not a little horror that I found myself the other day agreeing to get a dog.

The argument for, my canine-loving friends explained, was the unquestioning companionship and joy afforded by this faithful addition to the family. I was more convinced by the prospect of it persuading my daughters to overcome their terror of those leaping hellhounds we meet in the park and perhaps occasionally even leave the house on the lure of taking it for a walk through some of the wonderful countryside that surrounds us.

Since agreeing to this – incredibly – I have found three dogs on two separate occasions running loose in the street outside my house. Both times I have done the right thing and contacted the RSPCA but it seems a higher power is intent on matchmaking me with a suitable pooch.

At present we are engaged in a phony war of pre-dog ownership as we must until my younger daughter is out of nappies before we take the plunge, dog-wise. In the meantime our eldest child has had to make do with two snails in a Tupperware box which she found at her granny's and which she grazes on the hosta leaves that we have carefully guarded all summer from savaging gastropod teeth.

I fear the snails – rather like the stick insects I kept in a sweet jar as a boy – will prove a passing phase for her. But one thing is haunting me. When they are gone – how should we remember them?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Engineer - Managed Services Provider

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Eng...

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot