Friday, 17th December, 2021

[Day 641]

Well, the day has dawned when it is the funeral day of my brother-in-law. In truth, the day started a lot earlier than this because I awoke in the night at about 3.00am and turned on the TV (at a low volume) to see if the results of the North Shropshire had come through where the Tories were defending a majority of some 23,000. The indications at this hour were that the results would take another 30 minutes to come through but in the meanwhile the Liberal Democrats were getting supremely confident of gaining a big victory. The reasons for such confidence is because (by tradition?) the counted votes are put into bundles to form a long line for each candidate and if one candidate has a discernible lead, this is evident to the observers who are allowed by law to watch the count as it proceeds. I dozed on the bed until after the count was actually announced and then discovered, some time after 4.00pm, that the Liberal Democrats had taken the seat with a majority of newly 6,000. This was the second biggest by-election swing since 1945- which makes it the second biggest swing for about 75 years. By all accounts, the Liberal Democrats had gained a lot of support once the full details of illegal parties in Downing St. started to emerge and this cut through in a massive way to those who were not allowed to see their dying relatives whilst their political lords and masters were partying in Downing Street. Meg and I showered and then got dressed up in our funeral-going gear before going down for breakfast. This had a variey of cooked or continental style breakfasts and was of excellent quality. The dining room was in what was evidently in a former time the hotel’s ballroom and I thought the the interior compared incredibly well with the Old Swan hotel just down the road, which I know well, having previously worked there for about 3-4 years. I seem to remember my mother telling me that the Air Ministry had requisitioned the hotel for wartime use in 1939 and had actually only completely vacated it in 1959, allowing it to be converted to a 150 room hotel. I think that she had actually worked there at some time during the war, probably in a clerical capacity. The building as a whole was built as a mansion some time in the 18th century and still looks imposing. After breakfast, we spent a bit of time chatting with a mother and daughter from Teeside who were also visiting this hotel for the first time. The daughter was a probation officer whose job entailed working within one of the local prisons and as Mike had taught some summer schools for the Open University with Gartree prison in Leicestershire, we found some points of mutual interest for an interesting little chat.

Meg and I went for a little walk in town and had a coffee before departing for the church for the funeral service which was timed to start at 1.00pm. We arrived there half and hour early, managed to park without difficulty and had the opportunity for a chat wih some of Mike’ extended family members that we had evidently not seen for over two years. The service was very dignified and moving in parts with poems read by family members as part of the proceedings. And so we proceeded to the crematorium where again we managed to follow the funeral hearse and arrived at the relevent part of the cemetery for the commital proceedings. This also was dignified and restrained but Meg started to feel ‘wobbly’ so we missed the reception part of the proceedings so that we could get Meg back to the hotel for a rest. After a couple of hours on the bed, she felt a bit better so we made our way back to the same cafe in which we had had taken coffee this morning. We had a delayed lunch (of lamb shank, which we had noticed during our morning visit) and then chatted to the staff in a mixture of French and Spanish as the proprietor was Moroccan, the waitress was French and the chef was Spanish so we felt as though we had quite an uplifting little continental experience. We received telephone calls from members of the family to check that Meg was OK and we managed to give some reassurances that after a rest she had revived somewhat. Tomorrow will be a quiet day in which we will do a little quiet shopping in town in the morning and then pop along to Knaresbrough to see my sister in th afternoon. We have been in text contact with my son this afternoon who was hoping that the day’s proceedings had gone well so we indicated to each other that we would be glued to the Channel 4 news to get some good in-depth analysis of the political upheavals fillowing the bye-election result in the wee small hours of the morning.