Kelston Roundhill makes a fine gathering point at times of crisis and stress. We invited the noted humanist celebrant Isabel Russo, a director of the excellent Good Funeral Guide, to devise a specific one-off ceremony for the community for 26 June. We felt we all need some sort of shared appreciation of what we are living through, and hope for the future.
We invited local villagers, the great and good of Bath Council’s eceonomic regeneration efforts, various faithful and other friends. The response was interesting. Some responded enthusiastically: this was just what they needed. Some felt somehow unworthy; since they had not suffered enough their places should go to others. Many simply did not reply; perhaps they were perplexed, perhaps RSVP has lost its traction.
But it worked out fine: numbers were precisely Covid-conformant. Weather was beautiful. Midsummer is gorgeous.
We heard from freelancers, school headteachers, doctors, faith representatives. We heard the anger and grief of a bereaved widow who had been unable to be with her dementia-suffering partner in his last weeks. We sat in healing silence, and heard the sounds of the natural world. Blackbirds sang through the silence, and continued right on cue while Charlie strummed and played the Beatles’ song of the same name.
We walked to the summit and admired the views from the clump, and returned for a shared picnic, with quiet conversation and reflection. The mood of the afternoon is well summarised by the poem Whisper our stories back written afterwards by Jon Hamp who shared the afternoon with us: see below.