Yesterday there was a gathering, and words of praise and thanks were spoken for a life that had touched ours. The resting place is quiet, peaceful and troubled only by the wind and rain from above and the badgers and foxes from the neighbouring fields. The words of George Herbert were sung over a simple wicker coffin and we banished hobgoblins and foul fiends from our minds, as Bunyan bade us. A long life and a good one.
Today we wrestled with the wind, a bit further down the coast by way of an outing. We boys freed our minds and tested our jaws on a new seaweed crop, under the distant shadow of Dunstanburgh Castle. Bright sun, icy chills and penetrating rain alternated, wetting our fur and coating our faces with sticky sand: all in a day’s work for a native Northumbrian, of course. Christmas, with its frills and furbelows seems a long way away, but I am hopeful, for the twinkling tree of blue by the front door, and the sparkling fence of white alongside it suggest some further fun ahead.
If, when you look into my eyes one day, you can say I did all well – in good heart – and only got it wrong because I didn’t understand or hadn’t been taught better, then I will have been the best I can – like Uncle Jonny, or Uncle Willie, or even the great Noggs himself. Heaven knows he made enough mistakes, and he a legend and a lesson to us all. He had been known to frown, and even growled quite threateningly when infirmity began to catch his sides with pain of which he couldn’t otherwise speak and no one could suspect. Barnaby wants too much, of love and everyone’s attention; our Newman wants his own way, or he sulks. I am noisily impatient for life’s riches. We are all flawed. But we cling on and are let in under the table where the sandwiches are laid, and shelter found. Despite our faults, we find a place with Lazarus. As someone famous once said: for us there is only the trying; the rest is not our business.