I was back in the homeland today - yes, Stoke.
Where people say book like it should be said. Where oatcakes are eaten at every meal and where a duck is not only just a water bird or getting out in cricket and not scoring but also a Stoke term of endearment.
It was a glorious day, which I am pleased about because it was the day of Jessie Moston's funeral. My Dad's cousin who died just 30 days shy of her 100th birthday.
I went to the funeral today and decided to go up on the train to Stoke because I just couldn't face the M6 on a Friday. I'm glad I did as I felt more relaxed and as I was due to read a eulogy to Jessie, I wanted to be calm as I always get very emotional at funerals.
It was nice to meet up with Stan's family (Stan was Jessie's companion for 20 years and he sadly died a few years back leaving Jessie on her own). Stan was the love of Jessie's life and at the funeral today, the Minister said that she often used to tell him when he was her Parish Priest, how much she regretted never marrying Stan.
Jessie came to the Church (St. Matthew's, Birches Head) in a beautiful wicker coffin which was draped with flowers, the colour of which took your breath away. I didn't really see much of Jessie after my Dad had died, so I was very pleased to meet Linda Goodwin and her family who were Stan's relatives and who looked after Jessie and her affairs until the day she died.
Linda bought some pictures with her today and asked me if I wanted any of them. I took some that had my Great Grandparents on (my Dad's grand parents) and also my great uncles and aunts. It was nice to have something as I don't have many pictures of my Dad's family and there's no-one left around who can tell me about his family, sadly.
The funeral service was really nice and I managed to keep it together to read the piece I had written about Jessie. I was sitting on the front row on the end and when I was called up, I had to walk up a couple of steps and read at the lectern. I was a bit nervous, but as soon as I got up there, I was surprisingly relaxed and even managed to get people laughing at some of the things I said.
Jessie would have liked the laughter - she had a sense of humour. The one thing I was really scared about, was bumping into the coffin on the way back down the stairs and I did! I slightly touched it with my hip, but thankfully, it didn't knock it over.
We stood outside in the sunshine after the service and a couple of people came up to me to say hello as they remembered me from my presenting days on Radio Stoke and they all said how much they missed hearing me on the radio, which was nice! One of them was a former Lord Mayor of Stoke and his wife.
I was given a lift in one of the big cars with the family; a seven-seater Jaguar no less. It was lovely. I asked the driver how he felt about taking me back to Coventry later!
After the service, we went to the crematorium and then back to The Birches Head Pub (pictured) for sandwiches and tea and that's where I was given the photos.
It was nice to be back home, albeit for a short while but tinged with sadness to say farewell to the last link to my Dad's side of the family. However, if Dad had have been alive, he would have done what I did today and said a few words about Jessie, so in a way, I'm glad it was me that did something on his behalf. I basically used stuff from the blog I did about Jessie when I heard she had died and updated it slightly.
Once I had said my goodbyes, I got a taxi back to the station to get my train to Coventry and while I was waiting at the counter in the shop to buy a bottle of pop, I saw and spoke to Wendy Turner-Webster (Anthea Turner's sister) and we had a chat and she introduced me to her kids. It was nice to see her as I hadn't spoken to her for years and I told her that I was only with her sister a few weeks back! What a small world.
I travelled to Stoke First Class on the train as it was not that much more than standard class and you get a seat and something to eat and drink - I like to do it when I can afford to do it.
Hubby picked me up in the car when I got home to Coventry and for the rest of this evening, I've been quite mellow. I guess funerals do that to you, make you look at your life and compared to what Jessie fitted into her first 46 years, I've done nothing!
I was going to mention something about watching "Britain's Got Talent" tonight, but I won't because I found the whole thing very disturbing.
All I want to say is that it is fine for kids to take part in talent shows, but this was just car crash TV tonight watching the little girl plead for another go because she cocked it up first time and then they put her through to the final!! Gawd knows what she's going to be like tomorrow. I am not going to put myself through the ordeal of watching it live - I'll record it and whizz through the uncomfortable bits, especially if it means witnessing dumpy Divas, groaning Grandads and Crying Kids all over the place.
Britain's got Talent, Britain's Got Schmalent! If Jessie was still alive, she would have auditioned for it playing her recorder!