3 July 2020

Who knows where the time goes?

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?

I'm just back from Kingshill Cemetery, Berkhamsted, where we have just interred my mother's ashes in my father's (and her) grave.  My black Skoda the hearse, a purple cardboard box the coffin....

It's not far off ten years since dad died, and though I still miss him, I guess I was getting used to it.  Then mum passed away at the end of October last year, and we managed to get together as a family for a funeral in December....

Since then we've been waiting for the right time, with family all over the place, and the world struck down by a virus, and waiting for the stone to be cut....

And all that time she's been with me, in my room, waiting to be back with her man....

With the virus in mind (and travel restrictions) we decided I would go ahead with the burial, and then we will get together when we can, and visit and mourn and celebrate....

I thought it would be easy.  A piece of cake, perhaps....  She died at the age of 96, severely affected by dementia, and in these last months of lockdown, I have often thought that it was merciful and good that she passed away before this wretched time.  And I thought today would be a simple act, a kindness, of sorts.

But....  Then come washing back the waves of years, the memories of life and youth, and happiness.

Who knows where the time goes?
Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it's time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?

I notice a bumble bee entering a hole by a neighbouring grave.  The sexton tells me there are several nests around, and that the badgers from adjacent Brickhill Green (where I used to ride my bike in and out the claypits) dig them up and unearth the graves.

Nature, take your path....

I take Amanda for a walk in Hockeridge Woods, just down the hill from the cemetery.  I grew up round here, and as a family we walked here timeless times. Later I took my own girls here, telling the names of trees....  

These beautiful woods, owned by the Royal Forestry Society, have grown with me throughout life.  I wish there were more like them...

We used to stop sometimes by these shaded picnic tables.  It was in this grove the pictures at the head of this piece were taken, many years ago.

It's quiet here now.

Sandy Denny wrote the song I've chosen here. It was the last song she sang in public, before her untimely death, the result of a mixture of drink and dangerous medications and a catastrophic fall down stairs.

The song itself, and Sandy's life and death, have nothing to do with my parents. But she had the voice of an angel, and I find her thoughts on the passing of time appropriate to this day.

I don't mean this flippantly, but I often think of Sandy, especially when I come down the stairs at home.  Who knows where the time has gone?  And who knows when our time will come....?

Who knows where the time goes?
And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it's time to go
So come the storms of winter and then 
The birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

The Lady
Alexandra Elene
MacLean Lucas
(Sandy Denny)
6·1·47 – 21·4·78

In memoriam
Mum and Dad


  1. Hockeridge Woods! Now they contain some memories!

  2. You have a knack of encapsulating thoughts and feelings, and you also have enough musical hinterland to be able to find appropriate words to go with it. I envy you both of those things.
    We spread my father’s ashes just before lockdown, on …in, really… a river that had associations for him. I was not as close to my father, indeed, not even as close to my mother, as clearly you have been to yours and I suppose I envy you that, too.
    Lindsay Easotn.