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The Columnist
THE COLUMNIST
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         Once upon a time there was a young couple who wanted to get married.
         And that was not all.
         After they had got married, they wanted to live together.
         And build a home.         
         And then have children.
         And raise their family,
         And see them leave home, and then move to a smaller house, and then make some pension plans, probably not very wise, and finally end up in an old folk’s home.
         Of course, none of this was on their plans originally. All they thought about originally was the getting married bit. But then, which one of us does think through our long-term marriage plans, unless we have been listening very carefully to David Cameron or the Archbishop of Canterbury?
         Very few, I fear.
         In any case, our young couple had their first argument over the very first bit, the wedding plan.
         He was happy to get married in a registry office.
         She, however, said she wanted a church wedding.
         ‘But we are not even churchgoers,’ he said.
         Did I mention that religion and churchgoing were two more subjects they had not even discussed? Honestly, young people. . .
         ‘My mother would so love us to have a church wedding,’ she said.
         ‘Is she a churchgoer?’ he said.
         ‘That’s hardly the point, is it?’ she said.
         You will not be surprised to hear that they found themselves planning for a church wedding and all the trimmings. However, the local church was very dowdy and run-down, and St Cuthbert, the church on which the bride (and her mother) set their hearts was over thirty miles away.
         ‘Hmmmm, it’s difficult,’ said the rector of St Cuthbert. ‘If you lived in the parish, it would be easier.’
         They had actually been thinking about moving, so with some trouble (but with the help of the parents-in-law) they moved house to that parish and got married there. And they never thought about moving house again. Until their children reach school age and they started looking around for a good church school. St Cuthbert was no help, but there was an excellent one about twenty miles away (St Barnabas), so good that they considered it worthwhile moving again just so that they could be in the catchment area.
         Then their children grew up and went to university, which was a lot easier, as parents do not have to live close to their higher education college of their children’s choice. (Some authorities say that the further the better.)
         ‘It looks as if we won’t be going to have to move house again for a long time,’ she said.
         ‘No,’ he said happily. ‘Why would we have to now?’
         Well, because, as it turned out, he came down with a life-threatening disease and was only given a year to live.
         ‘There is one thing we have never talked about,’ she said, after they had come to terms with it. ‘And that is how, at the very end, you want to go. I mean, whether you want to be buried or cremated, or what.’
         ‘I want to be buried,’ he said firmly. ‘In All Saints Churchyard.’
         ‘Where on earth is that?’
         ‘In the village where I grew up.’
         Which was two hundred miles away. But they went there one day to talk to the vicar, who said he respected his wishes, but there was now so little burial space in the churchyard that they had reluctantly decided now to take only people who had lived and died in the parish.
         And that is how they came to move house for the last time. Well, nearly the last time. Ten years after he was died and buried, the graveyard was compulsorily purchased for a motorway scheme, and all the dead people buried there were removed and reburied.
         MORAL  There’s no rest for the wicked. Or the other lot, either.

The Independent July 12 07

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