Sunday, 8 April 2012

Seeing my own grave

Easter Day is ending with Pot Noodles in front of the telly. It doesn't get much better than this!

We've been in the Midlands all day, mostly in Sunny Nunny, the ancestral home of my father's father's father's father and beyond. Nuneaton doesn't seem to be doing very well during the recession. Maybe the fact that it was Easter Sunday made everything seem a little emptier and sadder than it would normally have appeared, but the road where my Nana lived, which always came across as very well loved was looking somewhat shabby. Many of the front gardens, which were once filled with beautiful flowers had been concreted over and turned into dumping grounds for rust-bucket cars and, in one instance, a shipping cargo container. It was a little sad to see.

We went to the cemetery to tend my grandparents' graves and spent some time washing it to make it look presentable again. We then went on a search for my Uncle Ben Till's grave, which six of us took half an hour to find. Oddly, just as we were about to throw in the towel, I decided that the universe might like to get involved with the hunt. I closed my eyes, and decided to allow myself to be guided. A minute or so later I got a very odd feeling in my stomach and looked down to find I was standing right over the very grave we'd been searching for. It was an incredibly surreal moment. I called the rest of the family over, and we set about washing the stone.

Nathan, understandably, got quite emotional looking at a gravestone with Ben Till written on it. I tried to consol him with the thought that my grave would say Benjamin and not Ben, but the whole experience was feeling a little unsettling from my own perspective.

We went to see my Grandparents' former house, the place where my Dad grew up, and stood on the street trying to peer in, whilst floods of memories bounced around in our heads. My Dad recalled the time he witnessed the Barwell meteorite hitting the earth. For the record, it was a foggy afternoon, there was a sudden smell of sulphur and the sky turned a sort of greeny-yellow colour. At the time, I think it was the largest meteorite in living history to hit England. It was wonderful to hear the vivid memories which every corner and every new vista triggered and I could have walked for miles and miles simply listening to his stories.

In the afternoon Brother Edward, Sascha, Nathan and I went to Stratford Upon Avon. It's an extremely attractive little place, which I know a great deal less than the other Warwickshire towns. We walked along the river and back up through the town before saying our goodbyes and heading south.

We picked Fiona up from Northampton on our way home. She'd spent the day with her family there and it was lovely to pop in for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a good natter with my substitute parents who were on particularly good form.

Pepys entertained two of his cousins at lunch time 350 years ago. He despised their "impertinent" husbands, the brothers Anthony and William Joyce, but obviously felt the need to impress them, for he wined and dined them with barrels of oysters and roasted veal.

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