We take the train up to Cheshire where both of us were born and were children and teenagers. We lived there until we joined the stream of young drawn to London for training and trying out a touch of independent living. Some stayed, we both did; some returned and continued their lives there, either bringing home new wives met in London or marrying local girls. We girls, mostly met our future life partners in London and settled there or perhaps in Suffolk or Warwickshire, Oxford or Cambridgeshire, Scotland and Wales. But looking out of the window of the train as we travel up for the funeral of a fine family friend, we feel the welcome familiarity of the lay out of fields, a rich landscape where Cheshire cows crop the thick grass precursors to what we will enjoy as thick rich cream and Cheshire cheeses. As we get off the train at Chester where we are met by an old and most dear friend, one who did return and marry and bring up her family there. We can almost feel or do we imagine what it was like when we were met there by our fathers who have been dead for over 20 years now, they, still young or as young as we are now, are somehow palpable in our memories now tuned back in to our growing up place. Of course, it isn't the exactly the same and the cars and the shops and the road layout have all evolved into what we recognise as 2018 but driving along the Chester Road, there are still those deep red sandstone houses and rolling fields which were there when we were driven along to ballet or horse riding or later on to parties at Mollington Banastre, Craxton Wood and the Devon Doorway, tentative teenagers suddenly waking up to romance and meeting boys!
We are here for a funeral and there are familiar faces, familiar backs of heads in the Church in front of us. The funeral is for a lady of 96, not so many left of that age so most of those attending are our age and above. We are handed a card as we go in to record our attendance but we get the feeling that perhaps the undertaker is offering future services to all of us! We search amongst those in the congregation in front of us for some of our old dance partners! There are a few there and we have fun chatting to them afterwards about our children and theirs and our grandchildren and theirs. There are daughters, grandchildren, cousins too, it is their mother and aunt who we are remembering affectionately. We find that there are 4 of us who went to primary school together, one of them is daughter to the lady being remembered. She lives in Scotland so returning to Cheshire is the same mixture of thoughts and emotions that it is for us. We are so pleased to see one another. It is a chance to remember, literally re form in our minds, that old life, the parents and their aspirations, their lives, shaped by war service and return from the war. The life shaping what created them was the foundation of the way they brought up families, did charitable works and lived alongside one another, cousins, aunts, friends, all hoping that it would always be peaceful and that life would continue in a kindly trajectory for all of us. Of course, there are changes in the way we go about things, and changes again in the way our families live, but there is a link which can't be denied and which is as palpable but invisible as the feeling of our fathers being there at Chester Station.