The family were having lunch in Harpenden, a town that has it all, yet where a lot of the wealthy inhabitants are still unhappy, selfish and mean-spirited. I am sure there must be some nice people there, but they keep them away from the town centre. Ernie wasn’t going down for his nap so I wheeled him around in the pram for a bit, but he could clearly sense the snakiness all around him and it was keeping him awake.
I passed a church and thought that maybe a stroll around the graveyard would do the trick and it was noticeable how the energy changed the minute we’re through the gate. It clearly takes death for Harpenden people to find peace and the inhabitants of this hallowed ground were definitely the politest people you’ll meet here and the only ones who won’t barge past you, assuming they always have the right of way. I am not saying that the only good Harpenden resident is a dead Harpenden resident as I don’t want to reignite the great Hertfordshire Civil War (actually fought over basic civility and won by Harpenden was won by the uncivil - but at least we got most of them in one place. But it would be hard to deny that the world wouldn’t be improved if a meteor hit the Aga shop and wiped these unhappy people from the face of the earth, to the oblivion that clearly suits them.
Only kidding Harpenden. Do come and see me next time I am gigging in town. You guys are great.
But the calmness of the dead eased Ernie into his own temporary inertia and he was asleep. I have always been fascinated by graveyards and looking at the stones of the long deceased and otherwise forgotten. Not many of us are interred these days, but if you do end up getting a gravestone then pay the extra money to have your name, dates and one line summing up cut deep into the stone. Loads of these gravestones are now smooth and illegible and only the guys who got their deets put in sarcastically deep can still shout out their existence to the passing living fools. Once these people will have walked through the graveyard too, probably marvelling at their 18th century forebears and how young they were when they died, or how long their wife lived on once they were gone, only to reunited in the grave two or three decades later. They probably never properly considered that one day they’d just be names on a stone (or the ghostly letters of their name) gazed at by their arrogant and rude descendants.
If you want your name to live on then investigate now what the most durable marker for your remains will be. But to be honest it’s probably better to be forgotten. No one cares about you now you 19th Century dicks.
But I went on with my life as if I shall never die (fingers crossed) and we had an unusually good day involving an uninterrupted lunch with our sleeping baby, a trip to the zoo where we went on the train and looked at some elephants. On the car ride home we talked about old pets and my daughter became surprisingly inconsolable about the loss of Liono (who I didn’t think she’d remember) and how we had to get her back, or at least an exact replica, as she felt sorry for Smithers, Liono’s brother who must be missing her. She was experimenting with grief of course and it was largely hilarious, but she feels things strongly and has some empathy and I am pleased about that.
Later we would sit watching TV with me stroking my son’s hair as he sat beside me and my daughter sitting on her chair under an open see-through umbrella that she’d bought at the zoo shop (after wanting one for ages). For some reason in this moment I felt like I was in Heaven, full of a perfect parental bliss. Somehow this mundane moment where nothing was really happening was everything.
They were soon pulling each other’s hair and pushing each other again. But you get these tiny oases of happiness amongst all the stress and tantrums and they are somehow just the best thing ever.
You can’t get that on your grave stone.