The man who lives in the woods knocked on the door yesterday. He is of a type that's becoming rare in Kent now; born and bred in the countryside, with a grizzled face, an ancient cap and a head-down demeanour, as if he doesn't have much self-esteem. He wouldn't be too proud to use bailer twine to hold his trousers up (but then, nor would I).
He had lost his cat again, and wondered if we'd seen it. Last winter when it went missing we managed to catch it and carried it back to him and his wife through the woods in the rain, in a recycling box.
In the course of the conversation he mentioned - diffidently, as though it might be of passing interest - that his wife had died last month. They had been married for 51 years. She hadn't been feeling all that well, but neither of them thought she was all that ill either. Then, one morning at breakfast, she said, "Hold my hand." And he took her hand, and she died.
Then he said something that rather took me aback. "I've buried her in the garden," he said. "My son is there too. That way I can tend them easy."
"That's nice," I said.
After we'd promised to keep an eye out for the cat and he had gone, I went online, and sure enough you are allowed to be buried in a garden. Or almost anywhere for that matter, as long as the hole is deep enough, and you don't affect a water course, and you have the landowner's permission, and the neighbours don't object. You don't even require a coffin, although you do have to keep a register saying which of your friends and relatives are buried, and where. But apparently having relatives buried in the garden may reduce the value of your property by up to 20%, and could put buyers off. Some people are so picky.
You can also be disposed of at sea, although only a dozen or so people in the UK choose this option every year, because there are Rules, and just tipping your loved ones off the side of the Dover-Calais ferry won't do. (I've never been comfortable with the phrase, 'burial at sea'. It conjures up an image of sailors with spades, vigorously shovelling seawater.)
The Social Secretary rather cares for a garden inhumation, although her suggestion that we put her on the bonfire first and then collect up the ashes is not such a great idea. Half the time I can't even get the hedge-clippings to burn, and if we had to relight her over a period of time I'd have to keep checking for hedgehogs.
I admire the funeral arrangements that Meg's friend made for her pet.