If you thought that was an unusual greeting, coming from Martin, who is 60 (and looks it). You’d be right.
Because today is a first for Grave Mistakes… *drum roll* A guest post! With me, the ever-delightful and some-time helper in the field of grave collecting, his charming daughter, Sally.
I told him off for his last post where he was moaning about no-one reading/buying his book. I said it made him sound like a right grumpy little misery-guts, and if it turned you off buying it, that’ll teach him.
Anyway, I’m here to give the inside track on grave collecting. Mostly it consists of eating sandwiches on a cold bench on a windy hillside, getting a bit lost and getting mud all up your back because you’ve fallen down again.
An average grave-collecting expedition starts with a long and involved consultation of the map – in which everything is marked in exacting detail. The two of them plot a rough route through the country lanes. Claire is calm and methodical. Martin gets raucous and over-excited. Sandwiches are packed, and they’re off!
Martin does the first bit of driving even though he can’t park or reverse.
And here begins a list of "Things That Can Go Wrong" whilst grave hunting:
· The gate is locked or otherwise won’t open. Meaning you have to brute-strength it open, or climb over – and that isn’t especially elegant for two folk of a certain age.
· The graves are not in straight, uniform lines. There’s 2 there, both facing different directions, there one over there, lying down, and there’s 3 more over there, in that corner, miles away, down a steep and wet bank of grass.
· Whilst travelling down that steep, wet bank, someone inevitably falls over. Cue “there’s mud all up my coat!” “I’m wet now!” “My socks are soaking!” “I think I’ve broken my wrist. Seriously!) ß He hadn’t. And, to be fair, that didn’t happen on a cemetery trip, but… men are whiners.
· The church is locked.
· It is raining.
· It is blowing a gale.
· Someone else is there, and wants to engage you in detailed talk of architecture, church events, or something else of zero interest and you can’t escape them.
· People give you strange looks and some ask what you’re doing, as they watch you peer at every single stone, forcing an explanation from you, and polite smiles and sometimes backing away from them.
· The camera battery dies.
· The sandwiches are squashed.
· Having to listen to adults going “beep beep beep!” when they find something interesting. Which is a bit weird, as you’ll agree.
· Your coat is still muddy and wet.So, pretty please, buy their books. It would make their little faces happy, and it has the perk of boosting my inheritance. Thanks a lot!
Oh, and I’ve read the books, and they aren’t half bad. So, don’t buy that Starbucks this week, buy a book instead. You wonderous, charming readers, you.
Specimen pages from Amazon previewer