Tuesday 24 September 2019

Contemplating friendship

Last Friday was one of those glorious late summer/early Autumn days with baby blue skies and sunshine.  The views were clear and we could see for miles as we drove through the Cotswolds.  The light was beautiful on the yellow stone of the buildings.  I couldn't take photos as I was doing the driving but I did manage to take one when we arrived at our destination.

We were on our way to a funeral.  I don't think I've read a blog post about a funeral and I have certainly never written one before.  It was David's funeral - a lovely man who we had only met twice.  Once for dinner in a pub near Lacock and once for a curry in Redditch.

However, I have been friends with his wife Helen since January 2014 when I sat next to her at the first session of Hilary Beattie's Make It Personal at The Bramble Patch.  In the five and a half years we've been friends, we have met at various workshops and occasional meet ups for coffee.  Considering we live 90+ miles apart I think we've done pretty well.

As I drove it gave me plenty of time to think about friendship, social media and technology.   Social media tends to get a bad press, but I find that if I block nastiness then it stops appearing.  My contact with the Hopper Juniors is very much based on technology - WhatsApp, Instagram and FaceTime.  With Helen most of our conversations have been via Messenger, with the occasional email.  It has been a great way to keep in touch especially this year as David's health deteriorated.

So back to the funeral and why I am writing about it.  David had been involved with Morris Dancing for many years, and as is their wont the Morris Men came out in force - both dancers and musicians.  They danced the hearse to the chapel.

This gave such a lightness of touch to what became a great celebration of David's life.  At the end of the time in the chapel the Morris Men danced.

The dancing continued outside the chapel.

And then we all moved to the pub by the side of the river.

There was food, drinks and a gallery of photos of David with his family and friends.  There was a lot of reminising amongst the dancing friends.  They also entertained us with more music and dancing.

A very touching moment was when Steve danced a solo in honour of David, in front of Helen. The jig is Princess Royal and was one of David's favourites. Steve was David's best friend and visited him every week both times he was in hospital and every week since, to play music with David to begin with and for him, once David slipped into unconsciousness.

Which brings me back to the subject of friendship.

Friendship is so important.  The support of our friends sustains us and encourages us.  We may not meet up 'in the flesh' very often but the occasional phone call, text, or other techy message is all it needs.  We do not know sometimes what that sign of being remembered means to the recipient.

And yes I know it's difficult when someone is caring for another with a terminal illness.  I found that when Helen told me about the latest sad report and I had no words, I would say just that.  'I have no words, but you know where I am if you need to talk.'  I didn't want to say things just for the sake of saying them.

We are living in times of division and unpleasantness but we don't have to dwell in it.  I have tried not to watch the television news for a while now, and I don't read much of the daily newspaper.  My Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of art, photographs and textiles.

Family, friends and strangers need our smiles, our encouragement, our respect.  When I was growing up one of the characters in the children's story The Water Babies was Mrs. Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By.  And a troll was a character living under a bridge in the 3 Billy Goats Gruff story.  I was also brought up with the mantra 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.  This is what we need right now.

Friendship and kindness.

This is what I saw amply displayed on Friday.  Of course you don't have to dance if you don't want to.  Smile at strangers! As you drive, let someone in to the line in front of you!  Help with directions for someone who looks lost!  Send a text to someone to tell them how much you appreciate them!

Above all, change the atmosphere around yourself.  Let's change the world, one kind act at a time.

And to finish.  The final dance at the pub was a repeat of Bonny Green that the dancers had performed in the chapel.

Thank you for joining me today.


  1. A lovely post, Bernice, on an amazing send off for David - and yes, it was a “send off” in every sense of the phrase. Thanks. We were privileged to be there.

    1. Thank you Christine. Thank you for inviting Roger & I to sit with you

  2. WOW Bernice. VERY well said abiut friendship. That looks like a great send off for David. It reminds me in a way of when my BIL died and members of the Male Voice Choir he was in came to the funeral. They sang 'Steal Away' and it was very moving.

  3. I do want people to be happy for my life when I pass and certainly celebrate! What an honor to have these gentlemen dancing. My father read to me every night as a child. We read from 'Journey's through Bookland" and my favorite of the stories was Tom, the Waterbaby. I still love the story and have drawn the picture of the mermaid holding Tom while sitting on a rock. It was great artwork in the story and you brought back many memories today. I need to dig out that old book and begin reading that story to my two grands. Thanks!

  4. What a lovely post Bernice. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and Helen’s husband. It sounds like he was much loved and respected and I imagine the Morris Men created a wonderful atmosphere and spectacle. What a way to go, to the glorious bells and merriment!
    I share your sentiments. The friendships l have made in line are special and next week l am going to Scotland to spend a week with friends l met on an online course. One is flying over from California, others from Denmark. And last week I had my first school reunion. Most were people I’ve not seen in over 50 years and it was amusing trying to remember that far back. I had managed to track down 2 of my special friends and one came from Cheshire. Another was a friend l keep in regular contact with, we have been friends since we were 8 and at junior school together. Sadly her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly this year so we have been to a friends funeral too. A poignant time and reminder that life is fragile and precious


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