At my office in Rodney Road, we were lucky to have the services of Martin Wright for a while, after we took over the firm opposite, Ticehurst Wyatt & Co. for which he worked. His wife Mary was one of the Meigh clan: she died a while ago, her brother Philip six years ago and her brother Walter last year. Now Harry Joseph Meigh, the survivor of his generation, has also died aged 90. His splendid requiem took place today.
Harry and Clothilde themselves presided over a large family, occupying a good proportion of the front of St Gregory's Church. Unlike at many Catholic funeral masses, however, there was nothing reticent or bewildered about the next generations' participation in the rituals. Indeed quite the reverse, Dominic leading the way both with his singing, and a very fine tribute: it was something I could not have begun to manage for either of my parents.
His father, Dominic told us, was said to have been blessed - as a child - with the face of an angel and the temper of a devil. A Christian Brother who taught at his school once admonished him: "Harry Meigh! Don't harry me." But he excelled in practical tasks, and in a career making aluminium bronze castings. More importantly, he and Clothilde worked out their understanding that the laity were as much called to holiness as the religious by bringing Equipes Notre-Dame (Teams of Our Lady) to these shores: of the 11,000 teams across the world, over 120 are in Britain. (The organisation's colourful fish symbol, with intertwined wedding rings, adorned the service sheet.)
In his homily, a monk from Prinknash described one of Harry's final acts - blessing each of his six children and asking them to forgive him. Having arranged a meeting, we were told, Harry was forever fixing a post mortem: we certainly gave him a good one.
I was sorry not to be able to track down a photograph I was sure I had taken of Harry in his prime. This one will have to do instead: it's of the representative of the local Normandy Veterans Association who attended the funeral. Harry having landed on Gold Beach on D-Day, his medals were placed on his coffin.
PS The family have now sent me this happy picture of Harry: