Bob and Sophie are loaded into the car and driven to the airport. Angus is heading back to London for a memorial service. Or, to be more precise, two memorial services. Both former colleagues and each 43 ( or should that be a 'mere' 43 ? ). A task of duty rather than closeness. 'The Font' knowing neither,wisely, opts to stay at home.
One former colleague steps outside a restaurant for a cigarette and is found ten minutes later, sitting on the pavement, as if asleep. The other leaves two young daughters mid-breakfast and goes to the barn with a shotgun. The second the more shocking. One of those always cheerful types. A reminder that an overly jovial surface is no signifier of the burdens shouldered beneath.
Decorous English affairs. Primarily masculine congregations in uniforms of grey suits, white shirts and black ties. You can always tell the ex-rugby players in the congregation. To the horror of the clergy they sing 'Abide with Me' and 'Jerusalem' without inhibition, as if on the touch line. Today, the words thankfully the 'correct' ones. At the end the handshakes by the church door. The parents seem aged by the unanticipated. Standard words of condolence. '' He was such a kind and talented young man ". The 'such' emphasized.
Hebrideans have at least that simple ' we go to sleep here and awaken there' attitude to death that has survived wars and pestilence. Sadly, I fear there is no such certainty at either of todays gatherings but much worry about mortgages and debt and tax bills.
A walk back through Georgian squares as night falls then several hours spent in the bar at Boodle's with old friends provides a rosier end to a rather dour afternoon. What the house claret lacks in sophistication it makes up for in cheer inducing robustness.