First, sorry not to have posted in so long, not that you gave a damn – no anxious e-mails, ‘where are you?’ – but there was a health scare which is now okay so feel free to feel guilty. The other thing, that I was finishing off a novel as in re-writing the damn thing and that left little time for blogging. Lots of time for net-surfing and generally avoiding the re-write, but nothing remotely useful.
So Big News down here is yes, as part of Her Royal Progress, the Chair and CEO of HM Queen and Sons is coming to Sherborne. Our Mayor – who probably considers Thatcher a dangerous socialist – is already quivering in ecstasy. Meanwhile Eric the Cleric who minds the Abbey is brushing down the episcopal purple and wondering how to keep the local bishop away. And the town council has decided that all shops will be offered special red and white hanging baskets at a mere £77.00 a pop. Now this might sound expensive but someone has to make a profit, and while the baskets aren’t compulsory, Eyebrows Will Be Raised should anyone refuse.
Thing is, people in their eighties only ever come to Sherbome to die. There was a previous post about this annoying practice but they’re still coming. Maybe I should have used extra-large print. Anyway, the local cemetery is filling up sharpish but the Town Council has just come up with the solution: expand into the children’s playground next door. It wouldn’t stay a playground, of course, but that doesn’t matter as the kids live in social housing so clearly don’t matter.
Now this isn’t to suggest that the Queen, gawd bless ‘er, is coming here to die. Aside from anything else, one would not welcome Special Branch crawling all over this blog. But what with her age. . . and Sherborne’s record with the elderly. . . and the fuss about not enough room in the graveyard. . . it’s possible that the Mayor and others might have considered the possibility. You can see the attraction: to be part of an international, historic drama with the opportunity to weep gracefully in public. But would they really imagine that their Monarch, gawd bless ‘er, would actually be buried here? What about the Windsor family plot in Nunhead Cemetery near Peckham, London? And Golders Green Crematorium is long overdue a Royal burn-up. Well, never underestimate the power of dreams. More to the point, a little known bye-law states that anyone dying in the town has to be buried locally under penalty of ear-cropping and a fine of three groats. This dates from when the Digby family, local landowners and traditional suppliers of courtesans to the gentry, were official Parish grave-diggers. To this day each Digby male has to dig a grave on his eighteenth birthday, although nowadays it’s more of a quick scrape with a rusty trowel. Still, both tradition and bye-law live on, with the possibility of an unseemly argument, perhaps even a tug-of-war, over burial rights.
So please, Ma’am, stay the hell away from Sherborne, for all our sakes.