I’m in the car with my uncle and my cousin. The Staffordshire countryside is passing in the winter sun before our eyes. The trees in the distance are white and beautiful. We’re listening to The Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. What an amazing album. We’re not speaking, the music and the road let our thoughts wander.
We’re on our way back from Tamworth where John and Ben made a list of the furniture left at Grandma’s house. She died in February. It felt awkward to be back in the now nearly empty house. Childhood memories. Ben and I had a smoke in the garden and we remembered the big family barbecue in the garden back in the 80ies. I took a framed wedding picture of my parents off a wall and a photo of my mother when she was about my age. John also gave me Grandad’s Bible, which I will take back to my parent’s place and give to my father. It’s a heavy book, bound in back leather, printed in 1953.
After the house we went to St. John’s pub, the place were Uncle Michael always goes to. It’s run by the Tamworth Catholic community. They are nice people and they take care good care of their community members. I’ve met the priest at Nan’s funeral back in February. He asked me if I was Joe’s son and I said yes, and we had a nice talk – considering the circumstances. He cared.
As we enter St. John’s, Uncle Michael comes up and says hello. He doesn’t seem surprised to see me and so we just sit down for a pint and talk about football and cricket and the new flat he moved into. He will be alright. He’s one of those old-timer stoics. They just get on with it. I really do admire that.
Now in the car it feels so good to be in England. To be close. A proper Sunday dinner awaits us in Birmingham and then Ben and I will go and see Belle & Sebastian and the Symphony Hall. Life’s good.