• Jim Bradley posted an update 9 months ago

    His name was… George. That’s how we knew him and the only name he would respond to. He appeared to be one of many possibly alcoholic, down and out’s that frequented the main railway station, checking out the litter bins and garbage cans to see if there was anything worth saving. Perhaps a bit to eat? Or something more valuable to him. Sometimes, a charitable soul would try and offer him money or maybe even buy a McDonalds meal for him. The response was always the same, “F**k off”, he would growl at them, stepping off smartly to get away from them. The message was clear – leave George alone, to his own devices and nobody would have any bother. Occasionally, George would disappear and then reappear, hair cut, newer clothes, looking clean and almost even smart. It never lasted long before he would revert to his old ways, his old look. Then came the time when George never turned up. One week. Two. Three an still no George. What could have happened to him, we wondered. Four weeks after George died of a sudden cardiac arrest in a rain swept, cold and dark alley at night, we found out the truth. The railway transport police had known him, and all about him, all along. They were not allowed to say though. Not until after it was too late. George, our familiar, probably alcoholic down and out, who frequented the train stations in Glasgow city, the guy who had been a daily part of our observed lives for years – had a history unknown by any. We learned George had been a one time highly respected lawyer in a good paying job. He had been one of two sons to devout Christian parents who left behind them an expensive property in the west end. So what had happened to George? Turns out George’s brother and parents had all died in a tragic road accident abroad and George, unable to handle it, had given up everything and taken to the streets. Despite being offered all the psychological help he could have needed, he had chosen to follow his own path. On his passing, he left over a million pounds (GBP) to the RSPCA for animals and left instructions that his parents’ property in the west end was to be turned into a unit for the homeless. We loved that! A homeless unit among the snobs of the west end. It was his final flip of the finger to a society he had come to resent and hold in contempt. Although he appeared as a down and out, George still had his pride, hence his response to those who tried to give him a free hand-out. He never needed their money nor even their free McDonalds meals. The police would strongly encourage him to go in with them, once per quarter, to receive a haircut, shower, food and be reclothed from the vast collection of lost property, We never found out why he accepted their help above all others. I have never forgotten George nor the fact that he taught me to always pause to think that, “There, but for the grace of God, go I…!”