I haven’t written anything for my blog in a while. To be honest it isn’t that I don’t have anything to say it’s just that I’m not sure I know how to say it. I had to write something this
Saint George’s Day though. Not about Saint
George, but about my cousin Leslie who died last night.
I can’t say that I knew Leslie George Edward Johnston very well. He was ten years older that me and by the time I was old enough to know him he was pretty much grown up. To me he was a shadowy figure sometimes spotted in the distance, always moving, tall and spider-like in a good way. He had two sisters, Mary and Linda, and a brother, little Ian - called so because his dad was also called Ian. His mum,
was the fiercest woman I think I’ve ever known, and to be honest most of the
time she scared me.
Leslie painted. I saw some of his pictures when I was a boy. Scandalously he painted his wife Fran in the nude. It was a good painting and I didn’t think it scandalous at all. But our family was like that and we lived in a small market town where people still went to church sometimes.
I think I only saw Leslie about twenty times as I was growing up, only once since my teens. I had no idea where he was, what he was up to, or what he did for a job. But today when my cousin texted me to tell me the news I felt a deep sadness. Leslie was the last of his clan. Big Ian,
Lena, Mary, Linda, and even little Ian - who was just a
year older than me – all died before he did.
That’s about it. The only picture I have of Leslie is the one in my head. I know that he painted, and I like to think he painted all his life; even painted a picture or two of himself maybe. In my mind he will always be that tall, long-haired, rushing glimpse of a shadow – a bit of rebel, a man who liked a drink or two, a man who felt beauty and art.
I may not have known him, but I think if I had I would have liked him if I had.
After all he painted his wife in the nude.