GEORGE ALGERNON PRATT - A brief biography
Much of Pratt’s early childhood is shrouded in mystery. Born to loving parents, it is unclear why they made several attempts to foster him into other people’s care, only for him to be returned within a short period of time. What is known, however, is that in his teenage years he developed a fascination with flying. Sadly, events conspired against him pursuing his career of choice. After several flying lessons and the loss of a number of aircraft he was advised to seek alternative employment. This was undoubtedly a bitter blow. As he himself remarked in later years, “My failure in the aviary industry left me feeling as though I was trapped in a cage”.
Shrugging off this early disappointment, Pratt’s legendary resilience came to the fore and his love of animals led him to train as a veterinary surgeon. Regrettably, this vocation also had to be abandoned following a serious incident with a goat. It was at this momentous point in his life that he decided to dedicate himself to public service as a police officer and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Unfortunately, much of this history has been lost with the passage of time. Being rapidly transferred through a number of different forces, his early work is unrecorded. Rumours of the suicide of some of his senior officers are largely unsubstantiated but there appears to be some truth in the tale of a cycling accident. The resulting destruction of a police box and related head injury may, in part, account for some of his later social and linguistic difficulties.
It is known that Pratt’s promotion to Sergeant was the result of an administrative error but it was from this point onwards that he finally made his mark in the force. Full details of many of his cases were lost in the fire when he was preparing to write his autobiography shortly before his death at the age of ninety three. We are, therefore, indebted to his biographer, Peter Gordon, who has meticulously researched and presented some of his better known cases in dramatic works on the stage.