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The Bog Man

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My Grandpa’s a bog man. Hundreds of years from now some archaeologist is going to dig him up and study him and imagine all sorts of things about his life, but they won’t know for sure. I think we should write a journal about Grandpa’s life and leave it in the bog with him, but Mam says that’s enough putting things into the bog and sure it’s a terrible thing her Da is in there and the least said about it to anybody the better.
He wasn’t supposed to be in the bog. He was supposed to be buried in the family plot beside my Grandma, all proper like, but the funeral people were on strike, so we had to do it ourselves.
“It’s a terrible thing, not being able to bury my own Da, just because those people want more money,” Mam said. “And who are they going to get it from? Dying is expensive enough already.”
That worried me. When things were too expensive, you can’t afford to buy them, but if dying was too expensive then would that stop you from dying? I guess it hadn’t stopped Grandpa from dying, although technically he died before the strike, so Mam had to go and fetch him back.
“We’ll bury him ourselves,” said Da. “I’ll get a few of the lads to help, and we’ll have him in the ground in no time. You get Father to come along and say the prayers.”
So Da rounded up his friends, and they stopped in the pub for a quick drink along the way and then another for the road, so that they were quite jolly when they finally showed up to bury Grandpa.
“Seamus, bring the barrow round to the front, will you?” Da asked one of his friends, and he went inside and threw Grandpa’s body over his shoulder as if he was a rolled-up carpet.
“Be careful of my Da!” shouted Mam. “What are you doing with him? Why can’t you take him in the car?”
“Can’t get the car through the cemetery gates,” mumbled Da. “The main gate’s shut ’cause of the strike, so it’s foot access only.”
Da dumped Grandpa into the barrow, and Ma rearranged his suit, which looked way too big for him, then we all set off up the road, with Da pushing the barrow, Ma and Aunty Mary sniffling behind him, Seamus and Da’s other friends marching as if they were in a wobbly parade, and us children following in a straggly row.
“If you go via the moor, the way is shorter,” said Seamus, when we all got to the crossroads.
“Yes, but there’s a hill,” puffed Da.
“Only a small one, and we’ll all help,” said Seamus.
So Da turned the barrow towards the moor, and Seamus, Paddy and Mikey all helped to push it over the ruts in the road. They had just reached the top of the hill and had paused to wait for Ma and Aunt Mary and the rest of us to catch up, when one of the men fell over and crashed into the barrow.
The barrow overturned, and Grandpa fell out and went rolling like a sausage all the way down the hill until he landed with a smulch sort of sound in the peat bog at the bottom.
For a moment we all just stood there, then Seamus started laughing, Aunt Mary started wailing, and Ma started scolding the men at the top of her voice.
“Now look at what you’ve gone and done!”
Some of the men slid down the slope and poked in the bog, but Grandpa was either buried too deep or the bog held on to him too tightly, so they clambered back up to us, shaking their heads.
“Ach no, that’s not consecrated ground,” said the priest, who had just appeared, which set Ma off on another fit of wailing.
“Well, Father, I think we’re going to have to leave him there until the spring,” said Da, “so perhaps you could say a few prayers to comfort the wife.”
So the priest muttered something about eternal life and the end of days, and Ma threw her posy of flowers down the hill onto the bog, then Da and his friends went back to the pub while Ma and Aunt Mary and us children went home and ate the sandwiches Ma had prepared for the funeral.
Spring came and went, and nobody dug up Grandpa, so I think he’s going to be in there forever and turn into a bog man. I wonder if that makes me a bog child?

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