Small numbers and the silence added to occasion’s solemnity, Town crier’s column

Town Crier Roger Bourgein at the Steve Gazzard organ donor sign up event that has resulted in over 6

Town Crier Roger Bourgein at the Steve Gazzard organ donor sign up event that has resulted in over 6000 donor registrations. Ref exe 36 19TI 9289. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Town crier writes about attending the funeral of a neighbour

Greetings citizens and visitors to Exmouth, this jewel set midst Devon’s red cliffs, green hills and silver seas.

No one should wake up at 3.30am, check the article they finished earlier that evening, to find it gone!

Dawn is not far, seagulls not yet raucous and my brush with death by Covid-19 not done.

So many regulations and instructions, my brain is whirling, oh bring me peace! I know I am suffering the same stress that causes so much of the fear and anxiety writ large on faces and bodies as I walk through our town on my morning journey for coffee and company.

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Yesterday, I wore my robes for only the fourth time since this pandemic began and I disappeared into the care that was to save my life, of Tom and his team at our Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.

The funeral of a neighbour had brought me out, she’d led a remarkable life, was feisty, suffered no fools gladly and old age, as nature intends, had taken her.

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I drove a lovely old lady from close by and we settled in our pews, no hassocks, no singing and socially distanced! As the organ struck up, the celebrant spoke the words and my friend and I began to hum, a satisfying and respectful feeling.

I’d known that feisty neighbour in the small coffin through a mutual love of my home town Oxford, where she’d studied at LMH (Lady Margaret Hall) and I’d lived for 50 years.

The very small number gathered, the utter silence save for the quiet words and memories gave a solemnity and dignity not always felt at funerals today, I sensed as if a bond had formed between us.

Now the gentle dawn chorus has muted to a murmur, the gulls are sober not the frenzied cries and screams of the day’s fight for food and survival! Human behaviour is similar, is it not?

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