Thursday, 8 August 2013

A Family Failure - Part 3: My previous funeral experience

I had only ever attended one funeral before my own, and that was of my Great Grandma Gladys.  Less of a funeral it had more similarities to ‘Noises off’. There was large amount of miscommunication, like the hearse being told the wrong church to go to, arriving just before the bride at her wedding. Half of the guests had been told that it would be more of a celebration of Gladys’ life and to wear something colourful, while the other half turned up in the traditional, sombre black. Uncle Joe decided it would be a good idea to down half a bottle of whisky and loudly proclaim that it was all his brother’s wife’s fault, and that he’d never seen such a shambles, which made it a timely moment for three vicars to show up, all planning on the leading the same service.
              However, at least nobody was particularly late, whereas at my funeral it looks as though I will be lucky to have one man and a dog to see me off! But I am still ahead of myself, for I must tell you of how I died.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Family Failure - Part 2: On Wills and Jumble Sales

Now no-one expected me to die, it just happened when nobody was looking, which meant there was a bit of a rush to get a funeral sorted and all the other things you have to do when someone dies.
           I died on a Monday; a sad case in itself for Monday is such a dull day already. The weekend snow was turning damp and slushy, everyone was trying to get back into a work routine after the Christmas break, feeling thoroughly miserable, and I went a died.
          My family spent the next day and a half crying a lot before realising I wasn’t going to bury myself and that I was starting to smell. This all led to them rushing to get my funeral prepared. They booked a church for Friday, but found that no-one could come because they all had parties to go to already. So then they moved it to the following Monday. Great, so I not only die on a Monday, but I get buried on one too!
          Just because my family will be late to my funeral doesn’t mean you can get away with it. I expect you to be there on the dot. I will try to give you a little time to get seated before I begin the ceremony by making my grand entrance.
          Actually these days it’s a little more humiliating. There once was a time when six pallbearers would carry you shoulder high down the aisle in a slow, mournful yet dignified fashion, while the organ played and everyone respectfully stood to watch you pass. Now they dump the coffin on a trolley and roll it up to the front to the tune of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’, while everyone sits back and pretends to cry into their tissues (in fact their just hiding their noses from the smell). Most of them are only there to hear if they’ve been left anything in the will. Well I can tell you now that they will all be disappointed at my funeral. I died so quickly and unexpectedly I didn’t have time to write one. (Unless you count the thing I wrote aged 6, leaving my jar of two pence pieces to Dad and my book on Monster Machines to Mum).
           I often wonder why they call it a ‘Will’. Was it because someone called Will wrote the first one? Or is it to say that you are willing to let other people have you stuff? It would be interesting for someone to write a ‘won’t’ of all the things they don’t wish to have handed on to another person, who would probably only sell it at a jumble sale anyway.
          Talking of jumble sales, I went to one once. Just bear with me here. They are crazy places, where you can go and take all the stuff you don’t want or need, and really free up your house (everyone has too much stuff). But then you make the crucial error of wandering around to look at all the other things on sale. Most of it’s chipped or worthless, but your eyes spot the cheap price tag and you start emptying your wallet. Then you get home and you realise, that you spent more money than you made and you have more junk than you left with.
          Anyway, as I was saying, I went to one once, just to have a look around, and I came across this chap selling weird bracelets. They had a selection of pretty stones on them and the man said that I should wear them when I died and they’d help in one way or another when I passed on to the next life. That all sounded ridiculous at the time, but they looked so nice that I bought one and wore it for a long time after. I even started thinking it would help me when I died. Of course what I forgot was that when you die you can’t really decide what goes with you into the coffin. Mum just chose a nice outfit for me and my stone bracelet was left behind in a draw. Although as it happens they wouldn’t have been any use anyway as I am almost stark naked, so it looks like I left everything bar my body, and one useful item of clothing, in the coffin.
            But I am getting ahead of my self, I am neither dead nor buried as far as you are concerned for I am yet to describe the events to you. But please be patient, I will come to them soon. Besides it will be a while yet before my family reach the funeral so let me go on.

Monday, 5 August 2013

A Family Failure - Part 1: The nature of names

They’re going to be late, I just knew it. Well I suppose you can’t blame them. We were all born late, every one of us in my family. In fact I was the least late, only three days, whereas Uncle Andy was more like three weeks, or so I’m told. And now they’re going to be late again, they can’t even manage to get to my own funeral on time.
            Dad has always been one of the worst. He almost missed my birth because he was trying to catch a fish. He did actually succeed, but when he pulled it off the hook, it wriggled out of his hand and back into the water. Then there was my wedding. He actually came in after the service had begun with his tie all loose; Mum had given up waiting for him. But now to be late for my funeral? I suppose I have to take some of the blame, because dying in mid-January, when Britain shuts down after 3 flakes of snow, was a bad idea, but still!
            My name is Rufus, which is utterly ridiculous, because far from having red hair (Rufus means red-haired, in case you hadn't guessed) I have none, I never had much, and even worse what I did have was bright blonde. But my Great-Great Granddad had been called Rufus and so of course we had to keep it in the family. Not that I mind Rufus, I find it quite cool. It certainly helped me out in my youth. It put me head and shoulders above the tallest kid in school whose parents had named him Clancy. I saw him many years later by which time he’d managed to make people call him Lance instead.
            Names really are funny things, you can’t choose your own (well you can go and change it if you’re really that bothered. Generally it’s the sort of thing people say they’ll do, like; “I’m going to change my name when I’m older.”
            “Really, what to?”
            “Oh, I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about that bit.”
            “How about Alexander the Great?”
            “Yeah, that sounds awesome.” But of course they never do it). Then once you’ve got your name you never use it. Instead everyone else uses it for you. In some cases they wear it out completely. Or else they just forget it, and every time you see them you have to remind them, and they say “Oh yeah, I remember, sorry. I will remember it next time.” But they don’t, they just make a wild stab. “Is it Vincent?”
            “No, no it’s not. Good try, better luck next time Katie.”
            “I’m Pamela.”
            So you see really they’re ridiculous. At least with my name there aren’t too many around. My younger brother’s called Jack and there are hundreds of them. You just meet them everywhere you go. I’d try to call my brother in a crowded room and 20 people would turn round.
            But enough of names, I was going to tell you about my funeral.