Thank you so much for all the kind comments.
Yesterday I registered my father’s death. This seemed a very grown-up thing to do. Of course, one should be grown-up at my age.
I had to stay in the house in the morning for the gas man to come and try to stop our heating system sounding like an aircraft taking off. Then I went up town. As I got to the top of our street, there was a nice shiny van belonging to a car-valeting service. It was parked half on the pavement, near to a hedge, so I walked round it on the road. The side of the van announced that the company was “commited to excellence”. Though I was in a bit of a daze, I obsessively proof-read this in my English-teachery way and wondered vaguely if it said the same on the other side. Popping my head round between the van and the hedge in pursuit of this thought, I came face-to-face with a startled young man, the car-valeter.
Me (feebly): Oh. I was just looking at the spelling on your van.
SYM (looking at writing): Is it not right?
Me: Umm. Well, “committed” should have two “t”s.
SYM: Should it?
Me: The way it’s written would be pronounced “co-might-ed”.
SYM: That’s my designer’s fault.
Me (wishing I’d never started this conversation): Well, I’m sure your car-valeting is excellent, anyway. That’s the important thing.
SYM: Thanks. (Pause) What does “co-might-ed” mean, then?
It was a lovely sunny day. There were lots of tourists on the bus. One tourist looked at Donaldson’s School for the Deaf – a beautiful, castle-like building - and asked a fellow-passenger what it was. “That’s Fettes College,” she replied confidently. I considered putting her right but then decided I wouldn't.
The registrar was lovely. She must have to register people’s deaths all the time, but she sympathised, asking what Dad was like and how Mum was coping. She told me that her father died when she was 11, and that she was the oldest of six children. Wow. But they had a happy childhood, she said, and have all done well. I asked her if she liked being a registrar and I admired her neat handwriting. She said that it was an interesting job, and that she’s careful to sign the certificates legibly, because she likes to think of people in the future seeing her signature and wondering who she was and what she was like.
Very nice, that’s what she's like. I wished I could add a bit on to the certificate to tell this to any future researchers into our family history.
And then I came home. The sun was still shining. Later we noticed that, since the gas man’s visit, we no longer had any heating or any hot water.