"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
When you see a vicar setting out extra chairs at the back of a packed church, you know that this is the funeral of a remarkably well-loved person: and so it was. Arthur Gardner’s last appearance brought in a congregation of over 300 friends, colleagues and grieving relatives. We read poetry, shared stories and remembered the little ways in which his quiet goodness popped up. How lucky we are to have been his friends, we thought as we gathered afterwards in the pub.
For we lucky ones, life goes on. On Wednesday and Thursday I did readings from Navigation in Wilmslow and Hartford. Friday saw Hannah Fox and I at Derby City Hospital, a medicinal behemoth where we will be doing some work over the spring and summer. We rooted about in some mysterious boxes of archives and get really excited about their potential – or slightly nauseous as we realised what they were. ‘What’s this? Ooooh, it’s a slide that says ‘abscess tissue’… aaaargh….’
All boaters are obliged to read Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, Terry Darlington’s travel classic telling how he, his wife and their dog Jim took a narrowboat across the Channel and through France, unimpeded by the fact that it was impossible. Their new book Narrow Dog to Indian River is about even more unlikely adventures in the US, complete with rednecks and alligators. Terry was signing books at a pub in Stone, a little town where there lurks (like an alligator in a swamp) my own canal hero, Skipper Jon. Jon supplied us with canal gossip and scurrilous conversation, his infinitely patient wife Judy supplied lunch – then we all went to pay homage to the Darlingtons at their book signing.
Our former Bunch of Fives collaborator, Harry Owen, sneakily got married at the end of the week! Congratulations to Harry and Chrissie, beginning a new life in South Africa. How he must miss Congleton as he looks out at those southern skies…
Back in the wet North West, where spring clearly has no intention of showing its face, I have a fabulous bedroom on Tinker now, and no longer have to put up the guest bed every night. The simple pleasures are the best. Now all I have to do is sort out why the back end of the boat keeps filling with water. And so to bed….