Some sense of the texture of his life as a musician aspiring to become known beyond the cliques of music lovers is gained from this excerpt from his memoirs:
In 1951 I had written a somewhat absurd setting for speaker, flute, cello and guitar of Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" as a Christmas present for some friends who were staying at Ordnance Hill at the time; in return they presented me with a copy of T.S.Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats”. Some time later, a performance of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat was given at a charity concert in Nottingham, organised by Reggie Smith in aid of the Nottingham Playhouse; the cast included Douglas Byng, Paul Scofield, Peter Ustinov and many others. The regional director of the Arts Council was in the audience and asked me if I would write two further settings of cat poems for the same combination, as he wanted an interlude for a poetry reading tour of various Midland towns which he was organising. The tour eventually took place in 1953; as speaker I was lucky to get Ian Wallace, who is not only an excellent singer, but a fine comic actor as well, and the players were George Crozier, Freddie Phillips and Joy Hall. I set two poems from T.S.Eliot's book, Macavity and Growltiger; the tour went to such towns as Kettering and Northampton, and Lesley and I caught up with it in Birmingham, where we also met the poetry readers, Valentine Dyall, an old friend, and Daphne Slater. The Cat Poems were performed without a conductor; apparently Ian Wallace, standing in front of the players, gave the beat to them with-his heel. Since then he has given many performances of them in his inimitable manner, and I dedicated the Eliot settings to him; his quilted smoking jacket and big dark eyes gave him an agreeably cat-like appearance.
It is not surprising then to read Humprhey Searle described himself as a "great cat lover." And this cartoon of the twelve tone composer is a lovely way to close the post.