Polymaths are sometimes not easy people, especially when they are always right. I can imagine my cousin, Sheila Sowter, who has died aged 81, excelling as Frank Sinatra’s penance while teaching him the opera-trained version of My Way.

She was played in to her humanist woodland funeral to the sound of The Mikado’s Willow, Tit Willow and out to Ride of the Valkyries, the ceremony attended by friends from all walks of her life – Mensa members, Wagnerians, Open University teachers and students, locomotive and railway buffs, fancy ratters, edible dormouse population assessors and multilinguists.

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