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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, August 05, 2004
    Height of summer, more storms than ever. Height of holidays, more deaths. Since last day off I have buried / cremated more people than ever before in a week. Many more than usual sober family visits, tentative questions to determine nature of relationship (much loved mum; tolerated bigot; never-in socialite; gentle man; glum gardener; wag; wise woman), teasing out stories (the holiday pranks; the never-forgotten slips of the tongue; the surprise birthday party; the catch-phrase), putting it all together to spin out something to suit all-comers to the service, dignified, honest-enough, smattering of humour.

    Wears you down, working all that out. Tiring, keeping face while all around you others are besides themselves. At a good time, for release after a stressful funeral I would turn right out of Anfield Crem and a few hundred yards along the road turn into Goodison, pass away twenty minutes nosing around the club shop. No comfort there just now; don't want to be there. I return home instead, stare blankly at the wall, lie down, or pointlessly surf.

    Read this week that there's an upsurge in deaths at the moment - far more than usual for this time of year. Tell me about it. Tell me why because I don't know. Other than this - because those people, quite simply, are ready.