One of my father’s last wishes was that his ashes be strewn onto the River Severn, where he had often cast his fishing line. I carried out his wish, accompanied by my mother, on an afternoon in October. I stood on the river bank about ten feet above the water, and after murmuring a few words, and receiving a nod from my mother, launched the remains. As I did so, a swan paddled towards me. In seconds its white plumage had turned grey, and we watched open-mouthed, as my father traveled on his final journey downstream towards Bewdley Bridge.