Mr Grumpy . . 26th July, 2018
I went to a funeral today.
I hate funerals, but at least I was looking at the coffin, not the lid inside it. That’s the most positive way of approaching a funeral: all this talk of celebrating life and wearing bright colours is rubbish: it’s a bad day from any angle, unless you hated the contents of the coffin and stand to inherit a fortune, in which case it’s a double whammy, and — for sure — wear a tasteless Hawaiian shirt and slip the organist a tenner to play Ken Dodd’s Happiness as the curtains close.
I’m a bit of a coward at such things. I could stare anyone in the eyes and sack them for being useless, and ignore cries for leniency as I tip the contents of their desk into a bin bag, but if I went to the same person’s funeral, my lip would be wobbling. Not because I’d been so ruthless, but the event opens up wounds and gets the mind racing.
Yes, it’s a bit selfish, but today, much though I was gutted to lose Steve, I probably spent more time thinking about the past and previous losses and my own mortality.
I try not to look at the coffin as it comes in, listen to the lyrics of the song, sing the hymn (I mime better than Beyoncé) or concentrate on what anyone is saying.
Today, my eyes were fixed on the window (needed a bit of a clean, and I spotted few cobwebs) and tried to think about the currency exchange rate (I need some euros) but when I heard his kids crying, I was off like a blubbering sealion.
I thought of the suddenness of losing my father, in a car crash as I flew out on my honeymoon, and then mum, as her beloved pet dog licked her hand; albeit followed by the awful realisation that the damn animal would be coming to live with me… And a couple of years ago my pal known as The Scots ****, who possibly didn’t realise how much I thought of him.
As the organist bashed away (I’m sure they make most of it up as they go along) I was lost in a memory of watching Roger Waters play The Wall. Every time I go up to Scotland, I think of him wittering on about hating the English (although we have a suspicion he was born here but moved across the border when the midwife identified him as trouble) and when “the boys” reconvene for a drink, we raise our glasses and sometimes place the Scottish flag on a chair.
We toast him every round, which proves we really liked him. I hope he felt the same about me.
Today, I wanted to get away as soon as possible. It was a burial so flashbacks to Frankenstein filled my head, mainly because (mercifully), I couldn’t see or hear anything.
I’d tried to avoid the “wake” but felt obliged because I knew I was “on the list” whereas the less favoured — and clearly without even an outside chance of inheriting even a stamp collection (might have a Penny Black in there) — walked towards the bus stop.
Plan was to make my presence known, then bugger off back to work (Monday is so busy) but the pies looked fab, so I got a tiny bit fatter and closer to death myself at Steve’s expense.
My last memory of him was us staggering to a bar in Manchester (supposedly working) and me asking what he wanted, with him replying: “I’ll have two double vodka oranges please” and my look of amazement getting the response of “…it just saves time…”
All this made me proud that — for once — I’ve been something like a responsible adult by having more life insurance than Mrs G and the kids could possibly need to keep assorted home-delivery vans in business, but also made me think about …. a snake.
A few weeks ago, the Press carried a story about a bloke who used a shovel to decapitate a rattlesnake in his back yard (obviously American, not from Coronation Street) but 10 minutes later, screamed as the head bit him, requiring 20 life-saving injections.
Experts, paid fortunes to study useless things, say the body can reflex in a controlled manner for up to an hour.
This makes me think that if my consciousness or “soul” has been with me for the 110 years I hope to live before I croak it (hopefully not by decapitation) that it truly might not die with my aged body.
I’m not hoping to be able to stagger around like a zombie, chasing Mrs G around the bedroom one last time, but that my soul may well float up somewhere, be it heaven or maybe even just around the Manchester Arena or Apollo, so I get into concerts for free.
I wouldn’t fancy being able to see some other bloke chasing Mrs G around my bedroom (after a considered period of mourning, of course), not least because he might use that life insurance money to buy himself a Porsche.
I felt bad for all the things I’ve done and said and hoped — come the day — the place would be packed for me, too, with people queuing up to say nice things (with the inevitable degree of artistic licence). Not least the Chron editor, who I have every intention of haunting.
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