It wasn’t my fault. I swear. It was the Devil Child. Living up to her name and all that.
So, we went on a little visit to Clevedon on Sunday. Partly because the Boy had been out partying the night before and I wanted to spare him the pain of having to hang out with an overexcited 5 year old when he wasn’t quite feeling his best, partly because I wanted to visit the much raved about Clevedon farmers’ market (Crap. Unless you have piles of money. Then I’m sure it’s just lovely!), and also partly because my great-grandpa is buried at Clevedon. I figured that since I live quite close by then I should visit him once in a while. The closest family is on the North Shore and I can’t quite see them trekking all the way out South to see Bill all that often.
After discovering the market was for lifestyle-block owning, wanky Aucklanders (why did I think otherwise?) I embarked on my mission to track down Bill. Unfortunately I hadn’t checked with anyone where exactly in Clevedon he was buried, thinking that it’s called Clevedon VILLAGE so how many damn cemeteries can there be? Errrrr… wrong answer. Turns out there are quite a few.
I started off with the one in the middle of town which was beside the Presbyterian church. Being Sunday morning, everyone was in service. I felt quite terrible that I was traipsing all around their graveyard while they were inside observing their religion and shiz. But Bill wasn’t there. Which is quite as well as I don’t think our family is Presbyterian.
Grave Quest continued. I drove aimlessly around Clevedon village for a few minutes and asked some people where I could find dead people. They politely informed me about the Presbyterian cemetery and one that was out on the way to Kawakawa Bay. Quite a way, they said. “Quite a way” can mean anything when you are out in the rural suburbs of Auckland and the kid was already bitching about having wet feet and wanting and ice cream so I was ready to give up on Grave Quest. BUT as I was driving out of fair Clevedon, I spotted a cute little church and some suspiciously head stoney looking objects. I performed quite a dodgy vehicular manoeuvre and made my way up to the church. An ANGLICAN church even. That’s a bit closer to where I think I’m supposed to be!
The grounds were a lot more empty than the Presby cemetery and I didn’t know whether I was meant to check with anyone before I rocked on in. But there was no one around to check with anyway. And no one in service. Do those Anglican folks get up super early or something? The Presbys were still well into it when I was there. Shows how great I am at this religious business. Or perhaps maybe more accurately, how well I am doing at this atheist business.
Anyway, Hannah and I let ourselves in and I start checking every damn headstone to see any mention of Couldrey. The kid is starting to get bored at this point and given the lack of ice cream and presence of even more wet grass, I give her the camera to keep her occupied. And behold, my memory card ends up full of photos of head stones. Ace.
Yeah, there’s about 50 more where they came from. Brilliance.
Then she asks me to take a photo of her.
Apparently that is America’s Next Top Model. Apparently I am not ever going to get a normal photo of my child again. I tried to convince her that you needn’t pose like that but it’s like talking to a brick wall. A brick wall that knows everything in the whole world.
About here is where it starts going downhill. I’ve not found anything even remotely close to Bill Couldrey. And now I’m pissed that America’s Next Top Model has corrupted my child, so I try and get the brick wall to pose normally. That’s a mistake. This is the result:
I’m pretty sure it was about this moment that the Vicar appears as if from nowhere. Moving like stealth along the headstones and appearing at my elbow. And it’s terrible when your first reaction when you get a fright is to screech “JESUS CHRIST!”… well, it’s terrible when the person you are screeching at is a vicar anyway. So that was strike one. Then trying to explain why your child was yelling in the very, very quiet cemetery, and why “America’s Next Top Model” seemed to feature a lot in the yelling, was strike two and three respectively. Thankfully the vicar wasn’t actually counting strikes didn’t actually kick us out. She also politely ignored my blaspheming. And the use of her church’s cemetery as a set for our modelling session. And the kid running over the graves and whatnot. Bless her. She even only mildly frowned when I mentioned that I didn’t actually know where my great-grandad was buried and admitted that I’d checked out the Presbyterian cemetery and confessed I didn’t actually know a lot about my family’s religious observance.
She actually turned out to be quite helpful and insisted I give the church office a call during the week and they’d check their handy guide of which-Anglicans-were-buried-where and see if they could find Bill. So next time, I’ll be able to actually visit. Instead of desecrating pretty much every grave in Clevedon. My apologies, dead people and Anglican vicar. And thanks for your help.