Tag Archives: sadness

A Post that took a Week to Write

I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad. Even after thinking about it for a week I’m not sure.

Last  Sunday we laid my parents’ ashes to rest in a  Lancashire churchyard. On the day I was glad that the weather was good, my knee held up and my 91-year-old uncle was well enough to be there. Since then, I have been thinking, and suffering mixed feelings.

They wanted their ashes to be together, and as they were married over sixty years that seemed fair enough. When I agreed to it, I hadn’t really assessed all the implications. My sister, for instance, has been looking after mum’s ashes for the last five years, which has always felt slightly uncomfortable. Dad died about 18 months ago and we have been waiting for a convenient time to meet, allowing for the various problems with lockdown. We were going to meet a couple of weeks ago but both my uncle and I were ill, so we postponed it.

They are in the churchyard in Chatburn. It’s next to the school where they met, and it’s the church where they married in 1952. The vicar officiated, and it felt serious enough, without being overly formal. This was particularly true when the vicar found the second set of ashes to be significantly heavier than the first and my uncle remarked, “That’ll be our Jim.”

The black stone on the right is the grave of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. One of my aunts is also buried there and their son Bill is commemorated on the stone, although he is buried near Ypres. You can see it from the front in this post.

One day I should research the family history of the churchyard. I know I have at least three great grandparents buried there, two aunts, a cousin and now two parents. I’m sure there are more but I have to admit that I have never researched it or kept track of the fate of modern ashes.

It was a great day from the point of weather and views and the sense of a task completed. However, it was also sad, and raised some questions in my mind about the wisdom of delaying such things. I wouldn’t mind being buried with Julia, but I’m now wondering how fair it is on the people who have to carry out these wishes, as it does prolong the sadness. In the week leading up to the ceremony I did feel a lot of the same feelings that I had done in the week before the funerals.

On balance, I’m glad we did it the way we did, but times change and I’m going to have to think things through regarding my own ashes.

Julia’s dad had the right idea, I think. The neighbours planted a cherry tree as a present for Julia’s mum when she retired from volunteering in the village. One night after she died, Julia’s dad buried her ashes under the tree. Later, after several moves, he died, and the family was able to sneak out under cover of darkness and bury his ashes under the same tree. They are together, but there wasn’t the element of delayed sorrow I had with mum and dad.

Meanwhile, if you are ever in Chatburn, and you might be one day if you ever feel the urge to visit Pendle Hill, do call at the Brown Cow for lunch. I had the best steak pudding I’ve ever had and my sister’s cheese and onion pie looked excellent.

The church. Another uncle Bill is on the war memorial. He never lived in the village but my aunt did and had his name put there.  He is also listed on the West Witton war memorial, where he lived for some years with his grandparents. If you research memorials you will often find cases like this.

They are now buried in the walled off section at the bottom of the churchyard and are, as the vicar said, part of the history of the village. If you look across the Ribble Valley the hills you see in the distance are the Forest of Bowland. If you could see over the ridge you would see Slaidburn, a village we have already visited in the blog.

Requiem for a Bookshop

There was a time you could go to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar, browse an interesting selection of books, buy a few nice greeting cards, have a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat, listen to the elderly gents discussing steam railways and come away feeling relaxed.

It was, to be honest, a bookshop from a different time and it probably wasn’t very profitable.

Judging by the crowd in the cafe it’s much more profitable now. But ithe profits, unfortunately, don’t seem to have been used for upgrading, or even maintaining, the toilets.

In terms of stock, we couldn’t buy any cards this time, as the ones we liked seem to be out of stock.

The Natural History selection seemed a bit bigger this time and the poetry seems to have grown a little in quantity, though the quality has, I think, declined. They still have a good selection of History and Military History but Julia wasn’t able to find anything in her line this time. I quite like travel and cookery books but I haven’t been able to find any decent ones for a couple of years now – both victims of the increased cafe space/reduced book-shelving.

It is also more difficult to get round, as the gangways were always quite narrow and the increasing customer numbers make access quite difficult at times, particularly as so many of them seem to drift round aimlessly and clutter the place up.

There was only one dog in today, but it was barking quite a lot. It was only a pup (though an Alsatian pup, so quite large) and the owner was bribing it to stay quiet by giving it treats. Or teaching it that if it barked it would get treats. For me this goes to prove that people should have to pass a test before being allowed to have a dog. Judging from the evidence of her kids it wouldn’t be a bad thing to make them pass a test before breeding either.

I did manage to buy a few books so it wasn’t a wasted journey, but I’m afraid it’s going to be the last time we treat it as the main destination for a day out.

Apart from the access issues, the toilets and the stock, I just don’t feel relaxed there now, and the cafe reminds me too much of what happened to our kitchen on the farm, even down to the cliched decor.

I wish them well. They’ve invested time and money in the place and made it much more lively, and presumably a more viable business. However, it’s lost something in the process and it’s not the pleasant, relaxing experience it used to be. I suppose that’s the story of life.

If you want to read a selection of opposite views try this site. Lots of people love it, and they all seem to love it in the same formulaic way. If I was a suspicious man I’d think someone was rigging the reviews. However, having seen some of the customers it’s more likely that they all belong to the Stepford Wives reading group.

There are some very informative negative reviews too, some of which echo my feelings.

I did like a few of the quirkier ones – like the one where they ate, spent an hour browsing and then bought a book.

Or the one where they found it a good place to while away a few hours with the kids.

Presumably they also spent a lot of time cluttering the place up and getting in the way of grumpy old gits like me.

In conclusion I will leave you with a nightmare vision of the future, where you can’t buy books in bookshops or plants in garden centres because they have all expanded their cafes and gift sections until there is no room for actual stock…

And having unburdened my soul of this sorrow I will enter the New Year as a happier man.

Happy New Year to you all.