On the Orient Express

It’s the snow that does it – gives you that feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world.  Like in Murder on the Orient Express.

So it was last night when we went up the glen and up and up above Blairgowrie for the AGM at Ballintuim.  It was snowing.  The satnav was struggling because the voice was set to English-Belfast  rather than English-Perthshire.

We sat down – most of  the congregation – around the table in the bothy.  It was Orient Express carriage-shaped and there was a blazing fire.  Dandy was on my left.  We discussed the tableau of photos on the wall – pictures of her mother jumping fences on a bull which she bought at Gloucester Agricultural Show in 1902 for 35 shillings.  There are times when I begin to think that all this is entirely unremarkable.

Thinking of bulls … as one does when the meeting gives itself to a discussion of maintenance issues at The Birks,  my mind sidled towards one of my all-time favourite funerals.  All clergy have favourite funerals.  It isn’t disrespectful – just rich.  Three of my – how shall we say – slightly more charming and eccentric parishioners and I sat in the funeral parlour in Portadown beside the open coffin of a friend.  She was not wearing the Davy Crockett hat with which she normally greeted me.  Above her head had been fixed a picture of random matadors with random bulls.  Her nephew stood up and began his tribute, ‘My Aunt was like a wounded bull….’  Too rich sometimes, I think.

And then we had supper which was sort of what we really came for.  Poirot did not make a cameo appearance on this occasion.  We enjoyed the company of friends.  We shuffled the Passat down the snowy glen again …