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A sending off

Yesterday afternoon I took my elderly father to the funeral of an old pal of his at a nearby crematorium. We decided to get there early because we’d heard parking might be an issue and we also wished to scout the toilet facilities situation – my father is currently suffering from a slight urine infection which makes him want to pee more frequently than he would like.

I do not have a problem with this, but by their nature crematoria generally tend to have a degree of ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ process about them. As we walked to the main building I glanced at the ‘order of play’ and noticed that the establishment had been knocking them out all at the rate of one every 45 minutes since 10.30am in the morning.

There was a good turn-out for ours – I guess the room could take a maximum of maybe 90 to 100 people and it gave the impression of being full, or nearly so.

With our toilet issue in mind, we had deliberately positioned ourselves in a row right at the back. As we soon discovered, this was a planning error. The through-put set-up was organised on a ‘one-way’ system, thus when the service was over the door behind us remained shut and the congregation was required to exit by going ‘forwards’ to the left of the coffin out along a colonnade with deceased’s plaques on the wall, past a bit of a garden, before looping around again back to the car park.

Having had a tenuous connection with showbiz in the past, on solemn occasions like this my mind often slips back to some of the ‘luvvie’ (over the top) send-offs I have been to, like that of Thames Television’s Dennis Kirkland – producer/director on the Benny Hill Show. He had ordered everyone attending to wear pink and, at the end of the service, the vicar concluded his committal prayers, and the coffin’s exit on the shoulders of six pall-bearers in the direction of the crematorium, with the words “And now, as the coffin departs, it will be accompanied by a song of Dennis’ choice …” whereupon the classic rocker Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis came blaring out of the church speakers … to a great roar of delight and amusement from the congregation.

Yesterday’s effort was more subdued.

The deceased’s two children spoke eulogies, both struggling with emotion at times, and the communicant (as I think the humanist conducting the event called himself in the order of service) was competent and respectful.

Unlike some of those we chatted with outside the building before we were let in. The departed was generally regarded as a curmudgeonly and spikey sort, a perception somewhat reinforced when two of the first three people to whom we spoke cited getting a bollocking for some minor breach of etiquette or club rules that he’d decided they’d committed as their first and/or most memorable memory of him.

Ah well, I suppose you cannot win ‘em all …

 

About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts