It's been warm and dry again today, too warm for wearing my dark suit. I put it on as we were attending Val's memorial at St Andrew's, Sevenhampton.
Brian too, in order to see his mother off, was smartly suited - a new one might even have been bought for the occasion: the village would not be used to seeing him look so tidy. Pat of course was her usual naturally elegant self. She would have been proud of her three daughters, for the well-chosen contributions they made. Matt's family too was out in force, including his two lovely-looking Woodmancote nieces.
Val's good friend Carol took the service with just the right degree of affection and seriousness, another nail in the coffin for those clinging to the idea of an exclusively male clergy. As usual, Gill told us where to sit and Muriel played the organ.
Everyone was there. Skip's sideboards, as bushy as ever, are now newly-back in fashion, thanks to Bradley Wiggins. Vera and Dennis hadn't changed much, but Clem looks older: her daughter Georgina has clearly taken over a more presidential role in the village. Ann and a deafer John, Robert and Lynne represented the Manor Farmers.
Robin and Sarah of the extended Smith family were alongside us in church, Sarah still playing hockey, and looking not much different from when she arrived as our efficient office cleaner a couple of decades ago, possibly more. Moving closer to Val's late husband, his nephew Jess, for ever known to us as Young John, was smiling as broadly as ever. And then there was David, in our early days in the valley, the young entrepreneur: now he enjoys the best position of all, up at Elsdown. From just over the fields beyond there came Ian: we reminisced about times even longer ago, when we both had back row seats in the sun around Elsa Marland at Dover's Court, and were spooked by her friend Ken Hay's Captain Hook arm. (Had he been in the wartime SOE asked Ian?)
Last but not least a clutch of Val's closest, including Bill and Sally, who helped us at Hill View as young teenagers.