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  • Philip Dunn

Sweet Thames, run softly

Hello everyone,


It was another beautiful afternoon on Tuesday 16 July, when high tide that ends on the Thames at Teddington Lock was due to turn at about 4pm and therefore perfect for the little family ceremony to scatter my late mother's ashes on the outgoing stream of the river. So I met up with my brother, Richard, and his wife, Louise, at the house that my parents squatted in and then bought for £750 in 1947, and where my father, George, still lives, now alone and in his 102nd year. The four of us and Arty made our way the few hundred yards from the house down to the suspension footbridge that links the Middlesex bank to the island with the lock, which is followed by an iron footbridge that joins the island to the Surrey side of the river. Both of these and the lock I had crossed so many times in my youth with my bicycle, when exploring the towpath, either left towards Twickenham and Richmond or right towards Kingston and Hampton Court, or going straight on to Ham Common and Richmond Park...



...and Arty went straight into the river and drank as much of it as he could...



...but everything has improved beyond measure since I was a kid, including the water quality and even this Purple Loosestrife...



...and the gate on the gangway down to this pontoon was kindly unlocked so that we could do what we had come to do, freely and in our own time...



...so we waited until the water coming over the weir (seen in the background here) overcame the tide and changed the direction of the flow...



...and this is where my mum started her last journey down towards the sea...



...then, after we'd had tea at a nearby cafe, my brother and I took a nostalgic stroll over the suspension bridge...



...from where the view downstream towards the lock has been smartened up in the intervening years...



...while all that has changed about the iron bridge, which links the island to the far bank, is that its paintwork is no longer battleship grey...



and fish teem in the sparkling clear water below...



...but we couldn't cross to the island by walking back over the lock gates, because there were locked gates, that weren't there when etc...



...so, we had no choice...



...but to retrace our steps...



...back over both parts of the bridge.

My mother, Sheila, died in February at the age of 93 and, although we will all miss her, I couldn't help thinking that she had persuaded her friends, the powers-that-be wherever she is, to smile upon us and give us such a lovely day that it was difficult to be sad even when releasing her earthly remains back into the cycle of existence...



...and I will remember her, the person through whom I was brought into this world, wherever I go and whenever I am able to recognise and appreciate beauty.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Summer and long may it continue.

Love,

Philip Xx



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