It's like a church in the countryside. Blue carpets, whitewashed walls. Quiet. Reminds me of Great Amwell, when I was little. Those church services. Cool air, best behaviour. Mum in her blue hat and gloves, nudging us if we fidgeted. Smell of incense and lilies. Running my fingernail along the cracks and seams in the woodwork of the pew, until the wax came out in little crumbly dark brown curls. A nudge from Mum, if she noticed. Staring at the brass plaque on the wall at the end of our pew: three old-fashioned knights, with their hands in praying positions and their toes pointing down. The knight in the middle didn't have a head. Did that mean he died by having his head cut off? Grownups coughing and throat-clearing, then all responding at once, a murmurous chorus. The Collect for the Day. The Creed. The Vicar with his bulbous head, protruding lips, sad bloodshot eyes. Doing that funny sing-song voice: The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit. Life up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is meet and right so to do. It is very meet, right, at all times and in all places... It's amazing how much I can remember.

Walking to the church from school, down a steep path under the trees, two by two, which was called a crocodile. Form up in a crocodile, children. I'm next to Andrew Gordon. The path green with moss, greenish light filtering through the leaves, and a damp greenish smell. A man digging a grave next to the path, shoulder-deep when he stood up, disappearing when he stooped for the next spadeful. A big pile of earth alongside. My brother came and found me. That's Dad's grave, he said. Come and have a look. So we went. Is that my Dad's grave? my brother asked the man. I don't know whose it is. Has it taken you long to dig? It's taken me all morning, said the man, and I haven't finished yet. You could smell the soil.

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