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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 4, December 2015

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Bob Smith
Worcester Park, Surrey, England


No Smoke Without Fire

I didn’t make a quick decision after the invitation came. It had been a thirty year acquaintance. We had shared many outings together as joint leaders of a birding group, to marsh, wood and heath. In the last 15 years though, there was little contact except the exchange of Christmas cards and the occasional phone call.

The invitation was to a place on the edge of my birding patch and it would be strange to go there in another guise; wearing tie, jacket and polished shoes rather than an anorak and trainers.

There had been rumours in the past about my acquaintance’s behaviour towards the boys we mentored, so the invitation was declined.

After the funeral service I felt some regrets. I received a letter concerning probate. I declined the offer of a book. In his will I was called a friend.

Beside the letter, the envelope contained a leaflet fronted with a portrait photograph taken in middle age and details of the service: a list of the dedicatees and their topics and the pieces of music to be played. Outside there would have been the usual gathering, and an absence of flowers at the family’s request.

imagined smoke
the memorial face
binned, then retrieved

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