Uncle Fred, Paras and Badgers

It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind of a week in one way or another. My Uncle died last Saturday and it will be his funeral tomorrow. There has been lots of to-ing and fro-ing and telephone calls and a lot of sadness. He would have been 85 this week and in March he and my Aunt would have been married 60 years. It feels like they were cheated out of that milestone. The Paras are sending a standard bearer, which my Uncle would have been immensely proud of and which is going to prove a choker on the day.

Lots of memories have been coming to the surface for me and a very comforting feeling that my Dad has been shining through me for my Aunt’s sake and for mine. For a man I knew for less than a third of my life he seems to be exerting a big influence right now. I feel like I’m there for my Aunt on his behalf and acting for him in this troubled time. He was their best man at their wedding and he’s present now too.

I keep remembering other things in my life too. It’s funny how one set of memories can set off a train of others.

Some things from about 1985/86:

–       Being stung all over my head and round my ears while mowing grass in the churchyard at Stow Maries with a petrol mower. I think the bees in the hives at the bottom end of the churchyard took exception to the petrol fumes or to the noise and came out to protest. I fell over as I ran away flapping my arms to get them off me.

–       Lying on my side and on my back painting in the names of the fallen on the War Memorial in Wickham Bishops because they had worn away over the years. I was using black enamel modeller’s paint, probably Airfix, and had trouble deciphering some of the names. I was on a back to work programme with the Job Centre at the time and got paid extra for attending community work. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember people stopping to talk to me about what I was doing, including a woman on a horse who showed interest too. It struck me at the time that I was doing something that meant a lot to people in the village and that there would be people who remembered some of the names on the memorial.

On our way home from Mum’s last night we made out a small animal in the headlights ahead of us in the road. At first we both thought it was a rather corpulent cat waddling along in the road. It turned out to be a badger running lazily down the middle of the road. We braked sharply and it carried on running, looking over its shoulder at us and used our lights to find its way into the verge a little way further on. Apart from being bitten by a badger some years ago, I’ve never seen one so close. It was also a first for Stephen.