Our day off in Perth dawned: beautiful, crisp and cold. It felt right. The Hotheads put on hats and coats and set forth , our boots clomping on the rough cobblestones of the ancient city. Our mission: to find the tombstone of a man named William Lauder. Accompanying us was Bell Lacey, Nick's daughter, whose arrival that morning had created a ripple of excitement in the band.
Though only twenty one, Bell seemed to have been blessed with an intuitive understanding of aging band members and their eccentric ways. She seemed to instinctively get the point of our quest, and, asking no questions, fell in wordlessly beside us on our walk, bestowing the oxygen of her youth upon us as naturally as a sea breeze. Off we set.
William Lauder's achievement, and the reason he had inspired our mission, was the planting of the seed that had culminated in Danica Chapman. William Lauder was her Great Great Grandfather. She was determined to find where he lay. She led the pack into the cemetery.
Two hours later, the sun still shone brightly, but William Lauder was nowhere to be seen. Everyone else who had ever set foot in Perth seemed to be represented by the rough and tumble of tombstones, new and old, all set in a hodgepodge of angles in the grassy slope. All crying for attention: all asking to be gazed at, to be acknowledged, to be recognized. I lived! I loved! I breathed! I was! I was! I was! But no William Lauder anywhere.
Finally, it was time to give up and trudge home. As a group, we began to make our way out of the cemetery, our thoughts turning inevitably to a pub lunch, the default position of those who must trudge on, who must still live, who must eat, who must work , who must play, who must eventually grow old.
"I found it! I found it!"
It was Danica, assisted by a group of cemetery employees! Their comfortable association with the dead had helped them forge a path straight to the tombstone. No false reverence here, their boots had kicked away the grassy subterfuge. "Hurray! Hurray!", we cheered. " We found him! We found him!"
Then, of course, we ate a pub lunch. Well, not me. I went back to write the blog.