On Tuesday, my Mum and I executed a ninja-like raid on a graveyard. Well, I say 'ninja' but without the black overalls and the black balaclava helmets and in broad daylight. And with a wheelbarrow. And a not insubstantial pile of plum slate chippings. And huffing and puffing from
me because it was a very hot day and the wheelbarrow with its load of slate was very heavy. And wobbly. Especially on the run down the hill to the church and down the church yard to our target grave.
Mum, as I wobbled and puffed and started feeling the pull of gravity on the wheelbarrow and the uncomfortable realisation that gravity and the wheelbarrow might just be winning over my flimsy biceps, said, 'Are you okay, love?'
To wit I replied, 'As soon as I am not okayI shall release this wheelbarrow into the wild and woe betide any stray vicars who happen to pass in front of its wild and out of control passage,' or something like that.
What, you may be wondering, were Mum
and I up to, with our barrow and slate, scuttling around a deserted graveyard trying not to look too shifty? I shall tell you...
You see, my Dad's ashes are buried in his grandparents' grave down in our local churchyard. And Mum has been fretting about who will keep the grave tidy in many years to come. I am sorry to admit that I would be very bad at this job. I don't know what it is about graves that I find, well, odd. It could be the whole permanent memorial thing. The whole 'visiting the dead' at a defined plot of ground when the essence of that person isn't, to me, really there. Well, not if they have any spirit of adventure that is (pardon the pun).
Which is why I have given instructions that when my time comes I am to be wrapped in my Celtic woolly shawl (if it can be prised away from the cats), popped in a willow basket and planted under a tree in some green burial site some place, don't mind where. No headstone, no plaque, just a nice tree that I can fertilise with my leftovers.
Anyway, back to the Ninja grave-dressing, as this adventure turned out to be. Mum
had tried to take a formal approach to her idea of covering the grave with gravel, or pebbles or, as it turned out, slate chippings. She had approached the vicar to ask his permission. I wouldn't have done this - I would have just gone ahead with the slate. But Mum is very good about this kind of thing. She has different bad habits, like performing U-turns in the middle of busy roads which I would NEVER do. Swings and roundabouts, you see. U-turns and formal permissions.
The vicar was appalled to discover that we had planted Dad in with his grandparents. 'You need permission to do that!' he exclaimed. Mum gave him her best stare. 'We did have permission,' she said. 'From you. You performed a service for us. I paid your gravedigger £35 to dig the hole for the urn.'
The vicar seemed confused by this. But I suppose it was over 16 years ago. And he couldn't really argue given there were several witnesses there at the time who saw him in all his vicarly glory. He said he would get back to Mum about the chippings. He didn't. This was several months ago. He is a very bad vicar. My theory on this was that he wouldn't notice if we put a luminous green full sized replica of Godzilla on the grave so we should just go ahead regardless with the slate and if he phoned Mum to tell her off then she was to give him my phone number and I would be more than happy to discuss the matter with him until I won.
So we purchased eight bags of slate chippings, weeded the grave, covered the earth with weed suppressing membrane, spread out the slate chippings and all in all made a marvellous job and the grave looks most neat and tidy. And did anyone see us?
No, they did not! Ha!!