Death seems to be a theme of this holiday. On Tuesday the village all but closed down because one of the village elders had died and the funeral was that very day. All curtains were drawn and everyone was wearing black. “He had a good life” I heard an elderly woman say whilst I was in the shop on the Monday morning “93 and still all his own teeth.” “Really? No dentures?” asked the shopkeeper. “Well, dentures of course. But they were his!” came the indignant reply.
“Mummy, what did the lady die of?” Mac asked as we watched the funeral procession snake through the streets as they visited all the places that Village Elder loved in the village. They cortege spent ten minutes outside the pub. I told him it was a man that had died and added that he had to be very quiet when he was playing today, out of respect. I don’t think the villagers raised their voices above a low hum all day – they needed an overexcited four year old like they needed a hole in the head. He nodded sombrely and hissed loudly at the three dogs to “ssssshhhhhh” which set them all off barking.
It was very eerie in the village so we escaped, a little along the coast to Portsmouth. No more dead animals but we had to endure Mac asking “is that dead?” for the entire afternoon. We agreed that the cockles he had with David were, in fact, dead. As was the chicken in the sandwich that I had for lunch but there followed a discussion about the salad I had with it. “Is salad dead mummy?” he asked. David retreated behind his newspaper for the duration of the conversation. “To die, something has to be living” David said eventually when he could read the sports pages no more. You’ve guessed it, we spent the rest of the afternoon saying “yes, that’s living” to the many trees, plants, horses and people we encountered. After half an hour of this, David - who isn’t that used to the incessant questioning from an inquisitive child - said in a rather short tone “Every person and every animal, if they have a pulse, is living”. A short pause from the back seat and then “What’s a pulse?”
Yesterday David took a turn out to see his Great Uncle Clarence who is in a residential home near Winchester – as Mac has become, well, morbidly obsessed with all things dead and alive we thought it best not to take him along. I stayed with Mac and the dogs and we had a lovely day just not doing anything (apart from eating, reading and dozing). David returned at nearly four looking pale and shaky. Fearing another leaping deer incident I steered him into a chair and poured him some tea (I’ve discovered teapots…..I’m going to get one for home). “It was awful” he said “One minute she was there, the next……gone”. It appeared that one of the residents of the home had keeled over on her way to the dining room and died right there and then beneath, David reported, a sign asking residents not to loiter in the hallway.
Today has been less morbid thankfully, David and Mac have been sailing whilst the dogs and I have been for a swim. Middle Dog has lost his aversion to the sea, Senior Dog preferred to spend time on the beach just lazing and Junior Dog got the scent of the Isle of Wight in his nostrils and thought he’d see if he could swim there.