Saturday, 7 July 2012

Return to 'normality'

Got back yesterday from my annual few days away to visit my sister and her hubby, with whom I stayed - plus a visit to my elder surviving bro and his wifey. Also took in funeral (by fortuitous timing) of my late friend who was my mental sparring partner and stimulus of the last 52 years.
   Funeral was okay as funerals go. Refreshingly, a humanist one, with the crematorium chapel cross having been removed. About 80 people there, but I'd only known his brother (younger by 3 years) - and his wife whom I'd only met twice before, the last time being 35 years ago. Shocked by how much she'd visibly aged. She was quite a beauty when I'd briefly known her, but now she has completely grey hair and is already walking with a pronounced stoop, although she's several years younger than I am. Sad.
   Not knowing anyone outside family I sat alone on bench at back but was pleasantly surprised to hear my name being one of only two mentioned in the address other than immediate family. (Apart from Mary and his brother no one else would have known who I was). Paul leaves two sons, 25 and 30, whom I'd never seen before. Both as yet unmarried but he confided to me that he thinks the younger one, who's not at all bad-looking (with goatee-type beard), might be gay. 
   'Ceremony' began with my choice of the playing of the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recording of the 'Et in Spiritum Sanctum' from the Bach B minor Mass, which I knew Paul particularly loved - as I do.

Guests were invited to convene at a certain pub afterwards for a 'wake celebration' but, having a phobia for such social functions - even worse when I don't know anybody else - I made my excuses and left.
  Anyway, so that's over and done with.

My sister and her large family (sons and daughter, all of whom are grandparents themselves) have a number of important issues in their lives at the moment, as I have, (when aren't there any?) so it's hardly been a relaxing time.
   I wanted to be left alone with my thoughts for a while. So the day after the funeral I took a train some 40 miles away to an area of the North Yorkshire moors where we used to holiday for three consecutive years when I was a boy of around 9 to 11. In that steam-train-age of yesteryear, going a distance which these days would be considered no further than one's own doorstep was an enormous adventure. Here are some pics, including self looking very serious and almost alarmed - and the farmhouse we used to stay at. The hills around it were where I and my two younger brothers would play and whoop, running up and down hills with no trouble at all. Now I can barely walk up those same slopes, needing to halt every few steps to recover some puff.
  The deluge of rain we've been having since Spring hasn't left this part of the country unaffected either. Walking off road was an unpleasantly squelchy business. However, it all looks lush and green - very photogenically picturesque.


  1. So glad you were able to be at the funeral... although I'm sure it would have been so much nicer to have a drink with your old friend instead.

    The countryside photos are beautiful and I love the seriously stuffy self-portrait.

  2. Thanks, Mitch. Yes, it would have been nice having a final drink with Paul - even knowing that that was to be the final drink. But I'm not going to get maudlin about it. Life goes on - for me at least.
    The verdant-looking countryside was quite something to behold - as is that shocker of a self-pic, which I only decided to post here to show that I have got a sense of humour, which doesn't always come through. Though goodness knows what I was thinking at the time!

  3. I hope the experience helps you live life even more to its fullest.

    1. Thank you too, Dr Spo. The only choice one has about sad experiences is to sit moping about and regretting it, or to look for the best in the memory and rejoice in it - as well as learning from the experience. It's a simple decision, though maybe not always easy to carry out.

  4. Glad that you have returned. Funerals are difficult because of the realization that something has changed forever. Your mention of Fischer-Dieskau jolted me. For some reason in American he is not mentioned too often, even though it has been about two months since his passing. I spent last evening watching his DVD, "Autumn Journey" - absolutely wonderful. Also, I have done exactly what you did - skip the 'celebration.'

    Hope the 2 pussies survived your absence. And what about Ginger?

    1. Grateful, as ever, for your thoughts, Paul.
      Funerals are like weddings in that you feel obliged to meet and talk to people whom you've never seen before and will almost certainly never see again. (And you'd rather not have met them at all in the first place!) It's rare when one's conversation doesn't come out sounding all stilted and forced, but there's a convention that it's got to be gone through even though nobody likes it. So, like you, I take the risk of slighting others by taking whispered leave of the host(s) and sneaking away inconspicuously. If they're offended that's their problem.

      Fischer-Dieskau had a miracle of a voice. What timbre! (Odd that he was also a smoker!) I have quite a number of his recordings. I did see him live once when I lived in Cologne. The concert consisted of half-a-dozen miscellaneous Schumann songs, which lasted barely a quarter of an hour. Then came the interval. And then the next hour plus was given over to a single very lengthy work by Hans Werner Henze (zzzzz zzzzz!). Still, it was good to have seen DF-D in the flesh at least once.

      Blackso and Noodles are fine, though they both seem suspicious of my movements, thinking that I might suddenly force them into their carry-cages again and whisk them off for another unpleasant experience.
      Ginger? Oh dear! I'd hoped that my absence might have encouraged him to return to his proper home. But I suppose it was a mistake to give the chap who lives downstairs food, milk and trays to feed him if he was sitting at my window - which he did every day. Now he's happy again - and sleeping in my kitchen once more. (Drat!) A problem stored up, unfortunately. Only wish I knew where his proper home was so I could let them know. Sure to be be further blogs on the subject.