Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

There’s a spade stuck in a pile of earth, and Harry would want it so. We’ll not disturb it, letting wild plants grow and moss run riot. He loved digging. Said it made a man of him when he first did it in the trenches, and lamented the fact that politicians didn’t have to spend a month of every year ‘getting their hands honestly dirty’.

We’ve used his ashes mixed with compost and loam to bed in the tomatoes, and we hope that his crop will be a bumper one. And, by being in the tomato troughs, he’s next to Maggy in the marrows and rhubarb. He always said it would be good if they could be together again.

Consider it our little contribution to that wish, Harry, my old friend.

The shop’s doing well and the council has approved our grant to revive the old greenhouses. I think it had more to do with Beatrice being the Mayor’s grandmother than ecological reasons, but a win is a win, and these days that’s so rare no-one will say a thing to endanger it.

Losing Harry is a sad landmark. He was the last of us who remembered retirement. Even during his last years, there were people who scoffed at him. A period of your life when the government paid for you to have time off? Nothing but myths spread by scroungers to hide their parasitical lifestyles, living off the back of hard working people. ‘Cradle to grave labour, the only way for the good of all’. That was the credo, these days. You only got your cremation for free, and a little memorial service at your local temple if you’d served in the emergency services or armed forces.

Harry said that the Merger Temples were heartless, like supermarkets for gods. When Edith pointed out that the Merged Places of Religion Law reduced fundamentalism, Harry only laughed, and said that all it reduced was the amount of prime real estate owned by the Church.

I’ll miss Harry. He had a way about him. Like he carried truths he had fought to find, and they are what gave him ‘weight’: the gravitas we are lacking.

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