There comes a time when you only meet some people you know at funerals!
A couple of days ago, I travelled back to the very pretty Cotswold village where I was born and grew up, and to the Church where I’d been Christened and attended Sunday School; where my Siblings got married, and where my parents are buried. The visit was for the funeral of one of the old villagers, and by that I just don’t mean his age, but that he was one of the people living in the village when I was born.
At that time the very small village was a mix of Gentry, Professionals and working people. We all lived alongside each other but this being England, we mixed mostly with people from our own social group. A lot of the cottages were ‘tied’ to the Manor, which was where many of the villagers worked. The ‘old villagers’ number about three families now, and the rest of the residents are retirees and weekenders who bought the cottages as the Manor estate was broken up.
So I’d known Malcolm, the old villager, and his family all of my life, and his children were my friends and playmates, and we learnt our life experiences together, with all that that entails! Over the years we’d gone our separate ways to live our own lives and contact had dwindled to next to nothing. The last time I’d seen any of them was at the wedding of one of his daughters, getting on for 30 years ago.
Yesterday though, was a day when we all met and remembered Malcolm and reminisced about old times. There were several other ‘old villagers’ there too, although they’d long been elbowed out of the village by the ‘newcomers’ – some of whom it must be said, have lived there themselves for several decades now and would bristle at being referred to in that way, but that’s just how it is!
It was during this reminiscing that I shared with the family, a strong memory I have of Malcolm. It was from that daughter’s wedding many years ago. Malcolm, was a good, honest, proper working man, just like many in the village, including my Dad. He had no pretensions, he liked his pub and darts, and a small flutter on the horses at Cheltenham races.
At the wedding, it came the time for the Father of the Bride speech, and I doubt if Malcolm had ever spoken in public before. It’s well known that the fear of public speaking is right up there for many of us, so we were all probably expecting a nervous, stilted, and uncomfortable performance, but what we got was a total revelation – a Tour de Force!
He stood up without any notes, collected his thoughts as if thinking ‘now what shall I say’, and without a hint of nerves, just spoke from the heart and with great spontaneous humour. It was an unforgettable performance, had us all laughing, and still ticked all the boxes. It was a speech that any professional speaker or stand-up comedian would have been proud of. I’ve been to countless weddings since, and nothing has ever come near it!
It’s not a bad thing to be remembered for, is it?