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 I'm starting to realise that the greatest hazard of getting old isn't dying yourself, but that all the people you've grown up with start dying.

This has been a bad year.  Gareth Thomas, Terry Pratchett (and several other actors I enjoyed), my mother in law and now, this weekend, a concertina friend of mine.

Gary and I met regularly to play concertina - and now we won't any more.  He was an odd bloke.  Rude and a bit annoying in group settings, but much easier to get on with on a one to one basis.  (Some of that may have come from social awkwardness)  I'd known him for a very long time, but we only became friends this last year.  He was my kind of musician. Neither of us were great concertina players, but both good enough to play for morris. It's always more fun to play with people at your own ability level.

He died a  couple of days ago, but I didn't want to sour my parent's diamond wedding party by talking about him then.  They're getting very old and frail (though still with full mental capacity) and besides, no one else there really  knew him.

The Diamond Wedding was a good party. Brought together members of the family I rarely get to see.  Really good to meet with them again.

We went to the Stockport and District Model Engineers railway track on the Sunday and my father steamed up the model engine (Puffer) that my grandad built (and the model engineers have adopted and cared for and repaired and rebuilt as necessary over the years).  Oswin got to ride on the carriage pulled by her great great grandad's engine.

I nearly cried there.  It's many years now since my grandad died, but the smell of the engine in steam brought him right back to me -he had a track that ran the length of his back garden and used to give us rides. He made around a dozen engines, but I only know where two of them are now.  (He sold most of them.  No point in keeping too many in the family as they need to be looked after by people who know how to use/maintain them and have the skills to keep a valid boiler certificate, etc.)

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Judith Proctor

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