Mr T and I lived in a pub. He ran the pub and I drank the wine and taught foreign students how to speak English (not at the same time). There are now countless numbers of Chinese and Arabic students wondering around Nottingham asking strangers “D’yow no the wayi te thi airport?” I digress. One of Mr T’s more irritating habits was to disappear. He could be anywhere in what was a very large pub. I spent most of our 15 years together asking people “Have you seen Richard? I’m going to bloody tag him”. When he was buried I at least thought that I would now know where he is… not so.
One day last year, I visited Mr T at Tithe Green, http://www.woodlandburialoxton.co.uk/, but spent 30 minutes trying to find him. This part of Sherwood Forest is a meadow, which is left to grow wild flowers and has no headstones (only slate plaques laid flat on the ground). Mr T and I had accidentally stumbled upon Tithe Green Burial Ground after a visit to Rufford Park, where we escaped from the stress of pub life by taking a flask of tomato soup, ham and mustard sandwiches and a bag of bird seed. We were driving home when I spotted a road sign advertising the place. “Ooh look, an ancient burial ground” says I, always the geek and always eager to visit a new place of English Heritage. Perhaps a long barrow would be found, or a circle of ancient stones. It turned out that the “burial ground” is just that. A part of Sherwood Forest that is laid aside for modern day burials rather than for our fore fathers. Nevertheless, we took a couple of leaflets from the handy container in the car park and read through it at our leisure in a nearby pub. This was about 3 years before Mr T died. We kept the leaflets and later put one of each inside our wills. If and when we died, this is where we’d like to go. When Mr T died, it was assumed that the funeral would be at the local crematorium. We had already made other plans. He was off to Tithe Green.
A tree is planted in memory of the loved one (Mr T’s is a Rowan – lovely berries in the winter), and as they’re all young trees, they look the same. The land looks so different in winter and summer. My husband had been buried in November 2011, so that by the time I finally went back to visit after the funeral (couldn’t bear to visit for ages afterwards), the whole place had changed. Trees covered in leaves and flowers everywhere. No bloody husband.
I wandered up and down each row, reading the names on each plaque. I found Mr T’s neighbours; a lovely lady who was a music teacher was somewhere nearby. As was the doctor and the plumber. In November 2011 As Mr T was a local pub landlord, we figured that this little community would be in need of someone who could pull a mean pint and decided to put Mr T and his “basket casket” in with these other fine folk. Yes, when choosing someone’s grave, it is vital to consider all of the variables. I didn’t want him hanging around with n’er do wells, and a plumber was always useful when the public toilets blocked for the tenth time so I figured Richard would be appreciate of one for a neighbour.
I found all his neighbours, but Mr T surely had disappeared. I even thought of ringing the local pub at one point, convinced that he’d nipped out for a Stella and lime.
Finally, after much frustration (had they actually dug him up and moved him somewhere quieter – he did get rather vulgar when he was pissed and I could imagine the neighbours complaining about his stupid jokes), I spotted the estate manager chatting to a lady who was holding a box, so I wandered over to them. “Can I help you?” says the awfully helpful Steve. “Er, I appear to have lost my husband” says I. “Oh, I can certainly help you with that. I just have to inter this lady’s ashes and I’ll be right with you”. Cue mortified look from me, who promptly shuffled off muttering “so sorry to disturb you”. Eventually I did find Richard, who no doubt was having a huge Sid James like guffaw at my expense. He now has fat balls hanging from his branches which the birds love and I can find him at a moment’s notice.