It is, as I have remarked before, the blight of the eldery to see the other elderly in the grave. Today I went to my Uncle Tom's funeral in the beautiful St Mary's, Banbury (above), my Mum's younger brother. He had lived to be, on my reckoning, 88, and with a spirit that could still tell me a thing or two about SPQR (which I had sent him) just before Christmas.
It was a wonderful joyous, as well as sad, occasion. Tom had grown up as a reckless country lad in the Herefordshire village of Stretton Grandison, with two older sisters (my mother the first born), a Dad who was the village wheelwright etc, and a Mum who was the village school mistress (until she was married). His daughter Mandy (herself a teacher) gave a brilliant eulogy, capturing those days when kids like Tom bunked off school and did little more wicked than explore the local wells. And she reminisced about the visits with her Dad and Mum, and younger sister Nikki, to the local folk music evenings, so thick wth cigarette smoke that you'd be prosecuted if you took your children there now.
Tom had become an estate-agent cum auctioneer, and my own most vivid memories from way back were nothing to do with folk music, bit listening to him do his auctioneer patter. I had never known anyone to speak so quickly before (and I practised fruitlessly at home -- to be honest I'd have been useless at selling a sheep).