At ten to eleven we filed outside the church and assembled in the graveyard around a small cenotaph commemorating the dead of two wars with a dozen unmistakably local names. As we shuffled out, we hoped that the rain would hold off — no offence of course to any of the names on the cenotaph who copped it at Passchendaele. We were about 30 souls, combined age about 2,500. At 60, I was the second youngest by a decade or so, and I was attached by the hand to grandson Oscar, aged seven.
The rain couldn’t decide whether or not to hold off. Oscar and I sheltered from the horizontal spits in the lee of a gravestone five feet tall. Resting under our feet were William Weeks, who died in 1850 aged 57; Sarah Weeks, ‘wife of the above’, who died in 1867 aged 72; their daughter Lydia, who died in 1865 aged 30; and William Isaac, grandson, who was taken aged eight months, also in 1865.