Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2005-07-28 026 Fluttered by...As for me 'mostly' seems to be getting used a bit. I know and yet manage to do doublethink. I'll be fine until something nudges me into trying to work out how something can just vanish; I can answer that, but somehow the answer seems inadequate, as if I've misunderstood the question. But partly it's horrific how easily life resumes, unchanged apparent from the occasional bump of a new pothole.

The funeral was... I was going to say odd, but they all must be. Something about being cold and standing round with patronising people one has no idea who they are making small talk about death. Seemed happier than most others I'd been to, but perhaps that's partly because being a son of that box over there meant I didn't have to worry about being appropriate (and not that I counted the box, or its contents, as him; it would probably have been easier if they'd vanished when he did).

It's probably strange to have to the wife, the sons and the brother each deliver their own comment, each getting laughs from the dearly-beloved, but then it was him; not much raucous laughter but often wry awareness.

And then choir my parents were part of (it's a fairly recent phenomenon, but that's part of the cruelness; just as he was getting good at life) stood up to sing, draining half of the crematorium, and drowning us with feedback (microphone at the lectern, which can't be controlled from inside the room, cue much shuffling over and crowding round the coffin, and me nearly sweeping the curtain round the choir while trying to turn the microphone down—what damned fool puts the dial for the curtain next to the microphone?). And suddenly it's happy Zulu stuff (well, happy until one translates the words), that sounds a lot better than the CD (which I was going to be given for Christmas, but then some presents have a habit of shifting, with the vase given for Christmas to one grandfather two weeks before he and my grandmother died within a day of each other—the irises were still going—used for part of the dismembered and recycled coffin-top array currently flooding my mother's house, and the t-shirt I made for his last birthday suddenly turned into a great symbol of him by my mother [my sister-in-law suggested burning it with him, I cried, and it ended up outside the coffin, confusing pompous ex-colleagues]).

Then a bit of God and the final curtain, and out to stare at the flowers you've just seen and greet the endless queue while trying to make sure everyone know what's happening next. And then being hurried away because the car's only been booked for so long and the next funeral is about to come out.

Oddly the tomatoes ripening on the office windowsill on the right as we went in, sombrely, slowly, behind the cheapest of the available options coffin, glossy red against calming, sedate, institutional green are one of the things I remember most, possibly because I wasn't sure it was appropriate to walk into a funeral chatting, and because I nearly half turned to my father to make a flippant comment about his this (and every other) year.

And so to the cheap venue that'll let the musicians play (I suspect that was the largest gathering of folk musicians a Wetherspoons has ever seen. God knows what the gym upstairs made of the massed song. And it's a little odd standing, drinking, talking, eating, surrounded by dozens of childhood memories incarnate (and the godparent I didn't recognise, having not seen him since he divorced my brother's godmother, back when Thatcherite meant they would vote for her [no sign of the other godparents; the vicar was doing 4 funerals, no wedding, and the nun is MIA]. He chatted a bit, asked if I was confirmed, I replied and conversation ended) in what I still think of as the bread bit of Waitrose (down the ramp past the biscuits, yes, it had ramp inside, it was just how things were done then).

I appear to be turning this into War and Peace (and probably the bit about the Masons near the end, given tedious irrelevancy levels), so had better stop, or at least hire a decent editor. But then I had four people come up to me after the funeral asking if I were a poet or telling me I ought to write (I'm not sure repeating structures and dropping in zeugmas, echoes, quite counts as poetry, nor if actually ripping off both Auden and Lear is really an art [yes, I used and distorted a line from /that/ poem, you know, the one, the over the top written as mock eulogy for a dictator, but nicking the foundations of others does make it easier]).

And how exactly ought one respond to variations on the theme of "you're so clever; I couldn't do that"? Because I've yet to master it, having been praised for my public speaking, what I said, my design abilities, my photography, and my general politeness and charm. People being nice confuses and irks me (and makes me wonder if they were at the same funeral, and if so why they feel the need to lie so poorly about it)...


PS. Apologies to the person who saw this as an email before I copied and pasted it here.

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