John and George continued

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It seems that my post regarding John and George touched a few hearts. And quite rightly so as it’s a wonderful story of someone turning their life around thanks to talent and also the help of a rather special four-legged friend. I was very excited to be reuniting with them both again at the Howard Griffin gallery in Shoreditch, though I didn’t really know what to expect.

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Anyone familiar with London will know that Shoreditch is a very trendy, artistic area in the East End that feels like a rough cut diamond – it’s a bit grotty, to some extent deliberately so, but art and innovation is at its core and that makes it a very exciting place to be. I wasn’t surprised when the taxi pulled up outside a gallery that would not have looked out of place during the Blitz bombings of London. I was glad that I had dressed down in jeans. What did surprise me was that John, my companion Sam, and I were to be the only people wearing jeans that night! The whole place was full of suits and cocktail dresses who had bravely ventured outside of the City walls in order to open up their wallets for a good cause. Now I understood why the guest list was so particular – the idea was to bring in people with money!

We snuck in anyhow and bumped into John escaping for a breath of fresh air as we were doing so. I couldn’t help wondering if it was the intense heat he was trying to escape from, or the people. After braving it out for a few minutes we too joined him outside. He introduced us to his family and I told him that I’d written about him on my blog. “I saw it!”, exclaimed his sister-in-law. “Remember John, I told you earlier that someone had blogged about you.” I like to think that this revelation gave us a little bit more cache with John and his clan. I may not have a fat wallet but I was genuinely interested in him and my friend and I were not just there for the Cabernet and canapes.

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But it was Sam who later got the warmest reception, from the other star of the show – George. We realised that we hadn’t seen him so we asked where he was. “Follow the trail of the canapes” we were told. And so we headed downstairs to where they were being dished up and there was George staring at the serving staff as if his life depended on it. “He’s eaten so many I’m surprised he hasn’t been sick” exclaimed one, as she gently popped another one into his mouth. It seemed that George was quite easily adjusting to the life of a celebrity. As I came empty handed, he ignored me, but when Sam called him he trotted towards her. We were sure it was because he remembered her giving him water on Columbia Road last Sunday. He hadn’t forgotten this act of kindness from a stranger when, to all extents and purposes, he was just a sad and beaten up street mutt, not A list celebrity in doggy world.

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Last time I had seen George he was in a sad state, but now he was apparently back to his old self. He was clearly a very warm, gentle dog – but also one with a bit of East End attitude. He strutted around the gallery, ate the canapes as if they were dog biscuits and cocked his leg up outside a lamp post as if he was a celebrity and he didn’t give a toss who saw him misbehaving. John was a bit more bashful and I sensed that his dog was adjusting to the limelight slightly quicker than himself.

By the time that we had left that evening we’d found out a bit more about John and his relationship with George (for example he was ‘bought’ from a friend in exchange for an extra strong can of lager); fed George far too many canapes; photographed them both; bought John’s memoirs hot of the press; received another sketch of George from John plus I bought myself an early birthday present of John’s favourite picture of his best friend (seen in the background in the first picture of them both).

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As we headed for our bus home we saw an elderly homeless guy with a very little dog in his arms. We stopped to say hello and he turned out to be a lovely softly spoken gentleman whose sweet dog, Pixie, couldn’t hold back from jumping up and licking us.   I wondered if maybe we would have just walked on by if it were not for our recent encounter with John and George. Together they had taught us an important lesson – that things are never quite what they seem, and you should never judge a man by his appearance or by his current misfortune in life.

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