As I sit here, the most beautiful piano music is coming from the stereo. I wish you could hear it: it's got a gentle, rising melody, sad chords and builds up to a hopeful and happy ending. It sounds like a film score.
It was composed and played by Dudley, who was buried yesterday in the village churchyard. As the many mourners filed out behind his coffin, I picked up one of his CDs that his family requested people to take.
They were astounded at the turn-out of villagers.
'We didn't realise he knew so many people,' his cousin said.
It was a typical Enchanted Village day, with that misty mizzle swirling through the rooftops and in and out of the church gates.
'Do you know?' I said. 'He had his problems but we all loved him. He was Dudley. We'll miss him.'
The church was full of the great and the good, villagers, eccentrics and even a tramp, who had scrubbed up well for the day. He looked bewildered as he gazed out across the pews but here he was an equal. Behind me, an elderly gentleman with a big bushy beard pulled out a tie and belt from a small white suitcase and proceeded to change and comb his hair.
Night Nurse, behind him, was fascinated.
'He had lovely hands,' she told me later.
I looked around and everyone was there: Mamma Mia, Celebrity Farmer, Mr F Word and Camilla, the Popes, Hawkeye, Dudley's dear pal Caruso, Super Mario and Princess Peach, Manual and Mrs Regal Bird and two sets of ex-publicans. There would have been more there but Pelly and Mr Sheepwash, the lovely Mrs Bancroft and Nobby Odd-Job were all away.
In the pub afterwards, Mr Grigg drank so much he fell over and crashed into a table. A combine harvester went the wrong way up the one-way street outside the window. The village shop where Dudley used to go in early and do the papers, because he couldn't sleep, was closed while our shopkeepers attended the funeral.
Hawkeye proposed to his long-time girlfriend and the ornamental hunting horns were taken off the ceiling with the usually shy landlady leading the bugle call as she galloped around the bar.
In the corner where Dudley once sat, the high-backed chair remained empty.
Caruso sang a song and we each raised a very large glass of Grand Marnier to Dudley's memory.
Here's to you Dudley. God bless.
That's about it.
Love Maddie x
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