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Later in the meal, over pudding, I told him about this book, and asked whether or not I should leave a copy to pass on to Alice and Richie for when they’re grown up. He asked me to send him one.

Wendy never did get round to putting the final scene of Lucy’s play into this story. It would be a shame for you to miss it. I think it shows that Lucy does sometimes listen.           


Scene 6 (Return to Lower Shuttlebottom)

There’s the sound of a coach pulling up, followed by the wakening buzz of conversation 


Wakey, wakey. Here we are. Home, sweet home at last. Back where we started.


I was awake. I didn’t need the Billy Cotton. We’re not right back where we started. We’re on the other side of the road and facing the other way.


And if time had stood still while we’re gone, we’d be meeting ourselves coming back. That sounds like our lives in a nutshell.


It won’t be sweet at home either. The driver didn’t stop at the services, did he? We’ll get some Heroes at the shop tomorrow and tell Jason they came from Bowness.


He’s clever. I bet he’ll be able to tell. Hurry up, I’m dying for a wee.


We’ve all had too much excitement for one day. So am I. It were a reet good day out though, weren’t it, as our Dad would have said. Can we get those robbers back up there again for next year’s trip?


They’ll still be inside. There might not be a next year for us. This is probably our swansong. Next stop the graveyard.


It’s being so miserable that keeps him happy.


No, it’s being so miserable that keeps him miserable. And the rest of us.

Cue Closing Music.

So, apologies from me, Bob Swarbrick if I’ve made you miserable without any good reason. Somehow, what eclipsed my region, my social class, my religion won’t let their death throes be told, the future having no use for them. The cleft in the Rock of Ages has been filled with Polyfilla. So, when the apologetics have been written by real novelists, when the false distinctions have been analysed by sociologists, when the spurious equations have been formulated by scientists, I doubt if they’ll have managed to say any more. 

Richard rang me up yesterday to wish us a Merry Christmas and he gave me his views on this book. 

“It’s spot-on the way I feel, Bob. It’s not a young person’s book, though. Don’t let anyone see it before they’re seventy, and on borrowed time. There’s no need to know before then. Let our kids remember us as good fathers and bad comedians.” 

Life is a comedy That should have been the mood of this book. Richard doesn’t seem to think Wendy and I have achieved that. But all will be clear, and we’ll all be laughing when God is all in all.

As Martin said to Mrs Luther on a crowded Worms tram on his way to the Diet: “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

I’ll more than take Richard’s advice. I’ll finish it off tonight and then throw it away in the morning. That’s if I can bear to. It would be easy to chuck my stuff. But Wendy’s? I’m not so sure about that.