Passing shades

On Tuesday I returned to Gloucestershire, to see my father just before his eighty-fifth birthday and to attend the funeral of Barbara Thorley.  David came with me, and it was a pleasant , mild day with sun and no rain, after a torrential downpour on Sunday. I felt a whole network of emotions, in pastel shades of melancholy and the memories of my childhood, but I was  pleased I was there. Painswick Church was full for a very long funeral, devised by Barbara herself, with readings from Donne, Joyce Grenfell, and two passages from the bible. Carolyn Cooke sang “I know that my redeemer liveth”, and the scratch quartet of Val and Robert Wicks,  and a couple of others from our little coterie of music specialists.  I think, though, despite the very  normal and friendly arrangements made by her sister and extended nieces and nephews, and the concentration of music, good hymns, (mainly Parry) and organ playing from Chris Swain, that it did not quite catch the essence of her. The vicar, the too elderly retired vicar of Stroud muddled the liturgy dreadfully, and his sermon said nothing of any merit either about Barbara or the readings, or about the situation. Even the committal and commendation were muddled. I can imagine what she would think, as she was such a perfectionist.   They sang the final chorus from The Dream of Gerontius  and the coffin disappeared out through the door, to go to the crem.   I think very few  there probably knew her as  well or as long as I did, and remembered all the other aspects of her life.   But music lives on. They carried in Sir Edward Elgar’s conducting baton, which her piano teacher, a good friend of EE’s had given to her. David had a little hold of it during the tea afterwards, which was a religious moment for him!  When I came home later I phoned Chris Baines who told me she had lingered for four or five days in hospital longer than they expected,  didn’t speak during those days,  while the niece and nephews  kept a vigil at the bedside. I wonder what she was going through during those last days. In the church I did have a strong feeling of Hope Senior waiting somewhere for her.

About mrsgarnettsgarden

After a life in International Development where I have seen many resililent women farmers bring abundance out of almost nothing, I'm now more often at home in Derbyshire with my husband David, a retired Archdeacon who runs the churches on the Chatsworth estate. Our garden and my allotment are the setting for a little diary of plants and pottering, aided and abetted by our dogs, Spaniel jess, and Collie, Pip. David is a hen fanatic so the chicken runs encroach ever nearer the house. I work freelance as an assessor for Comic Relief International grants, and also run a little not for profit agency to help African women get going in business, called "Lasting Solutions."
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2 Responses to Passing shades

  1. penelope shield says:

    Were you, like me, one of the members of the choir that won The Gold Cup at The Cheltenham Festival , in 1969! I remember practising Stanford’s ‘ Bluebird’ before the performance. Carolyn Cook possibly the soloist? Am trying to research, without any success , the operetta ‘ Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Saint’ [ based on life of Francis of Assisi by Antony [ Anthony?] Hopkins which we sang at the church next door to Stroud Hospital as part of one Stroud Festival. I remember the composer talking to us in SHS main hall .No mention of this composition on his Wikipedia..

  2. Funnily enough, I was drawn to search for Anthony Hopkins, remembering those exact performances and talks probably as a 14 year old at Marling, and being part of the chorus. He had a penchant for fast cars, I remember!

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