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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NEIL ARNOLD: Tribute to Quentin Rose

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years; we are just both a tad older....

Quentin Rose is, rather sadly, rarely spoken about today. Here was a guy who on a full-time basis investigated reports of large exotic cats roaming the countryside. He was the best at what he did. And yet despite his investigations, he was ridiculed and also sneered at by many other ‘researchers’ across the field because of their jealousy. I think that maybe it was down to the fact that Quentin had the know-how as to track such animals; he had the experience, and an official say on the matter. Sadly, in October 2002, Quentin, who I’d begun to liase (I’d already done a few TV bits with him) with, passed away unexpectedly, and so, on one of my old websites I posted a small tribute to him. Thankfully, this was picked up by Quentin’s good friend Chris Bosley who sent me the below email a few years back, which I’ve now decided to release as a fitting tribute to the man.

‘Quentin and I were good friends for many years, sharing many common interests, including an almost theological zeal for the natural world. Many interesting conversations took place whilst walking the Malvern Hills. He successfully cured me of a spell of Buddhism on one such walk! We shot pistol and rifle together, he being a far better pistol shot and was actually a member of the British Practical Pistol National Squad for a time. I was, I am glad to say, a better rifle shot though. I knew his mother very well, a kind and tolerant woman who put up with quite a lot of Q's eccentricities, such as drying jerky on the living room radiators and curing rabbit and hare skins in the bathroom sink!
We shared some 'primitive' camping expeditions from time to time, both locally and in the Brecon Beacons. I have marvellous memories of those times. We used to use cotton bags soaked in lanolin to store food. These worked well, but imparted a certain flavour to the food! We both appreciated the work of 'Nessmuk' and his writings on lightweight camping at the turn of the 20th c. That's where the cotton bags and a lot of other primitive stuff came from. Some worked, some didn't! As you say, Q worked as a zoo keeper. He enjoyed his time with John Aspinall at Port Lympne, but did not enjoy some of the other parks and zoos he spent time at. His concern for the welfare of the 'inmates' led to a spell of work for Zoo Check, which pretty much blacklisted him from that line of work.
His time in Canada is especially interesting. He canoed along the North shore of lake Athabaska, pretty much living off the land, using a Savage combination rifle/shotgun and a telescopic fishing rod. He wrote home when he came to a settlement that could get post out, but managed to run out of writing paper, so sent the next letter on a piece of birch bark! Very Q! I still have the skinning knife and beaded sheath he brought back for me. He traded this with a Cree trapper for shotgun shells. His return trip was not so successful. Intending to spend a full winter trapping around Reindeer Lake. Although he learned much from the Indians and had some success, he met with a series of misfortunes, including a bad fall that temporarily lost him the sight of one eye. Seeing these mishaps as signs that he was not welcome there, he cut the trip short.
The trap design and the 'Rose Cuff ' occupied most of his latter years. I went on several trapping sessions with him to test the early prototypes on local foxes. I also assisted on several abortive attempts to trap a local big cat on an large estate between Tewkesbury and Worcester. Our bait consisted of some Lion dung and urine and a waterproofed (in a plastic bag) tape recorder emitting various recordings of lions. No success I'm afraid.
Q had several alter egos and several groups of friends all over the country. his brother lives in Dove dale and Q would disappear there from time to time. probably when the jerky making or canoe repair in the kitchen got to his mother! he also had a passion for the Northumbrian pipes and spent some time somewhere up North with a pipe maker. he returned with a set that he had made himself and proceeded to perform a competent rendition of a tune that I can no longer remember the name of. As you may be aware, Q was a chronic diabetic and this is certainly what contributed to his tragically early death. he often spoke of this illness and knew he would not make 'old bones' but refused to succumb to self pity and lived his own life. I was present at his funeral, which was a non religious outdoor celebration of his life. His father's eulogy was deeply touching. Each of his friends who wished to was invited to step forward and talk about their relationship with Q. I did my bit and at the end of the service placed the green leaf on his coffin.(If familiar with the philosophy of Grey Owl, you will understand that)

I sincerely thank you for the obituary. It was most unexpected and I am very grateful.
Good luck in your work.

Chris Bosley

After Quentin died his father contacted me and offered me the traps Quentin used to track large cats, but I was unable to get to Gloucestershire to pick them up. However, the TV footage I have of Quentin, and the advice he gave me is much treasured. R.I.P.

2 comments:

Nora Abercrombie said...

Thank you for this post. I was just looking over some old photos, and remember Quentin from an odd encounter we had on the north shore of Lake Athabasca. My canoeing partner and I hadn't seen another person in some weeks, so remote was the area, and certainly did not expect to see a diminutive Englishman untangling his fishing line on a rock. But there he was. We passed a pleasant evening, shared a few tips (such as using a swivel for his lures so that he didn't twist his fishing line), and wished him well. What I remember was his stories about working with large cats in zoos, being thrown over a fence by an elephant, and the fact that he slept on his food. We don't recommend that, for obvious reasons, but Quentin told us that if he lost his food, he was dead anyway, so we accepted that. Quentin was on his way up a river that most canoeists find challenging to go down. We were impressed. Frightened for him, but impressed. I am very sorry that he died so young, as he was a very nice fellow. I'd like to hear more about what he was doing if anybody cares to get in touch.

Nicholas said...

I'm very sorry to hear of Quentin's death. I am on a train today and seeing a strange looking animal in a field, was reminded of Quentin's tracking exploits and looking up his name on the web, found this article.
In the mid 1980s, Quentin worked as an instructor at the Survival School run by my company, Survival Aids Ltd of Morland, Penrith, Cumbria. He was a brilliant instructor, due to his intimate personal experience of living off the land in Canada. He had a great sense of humour too. He particularly enjoyed munching big confectionery bars, apparently needed to control his diabetes, whilst out on the fells showing half-starved Survival School students how to cook roots for their supper. God rest his soul. Nicholas Steven pilgrimways@gmail.com