I’m at that age now where the generation above mine are starting to pop off.
It’s not quite that simple, as one of my cousins is only ten years younger than my mum; but, in general, I’ve reached that time of life where it’ll be more funerals than weddings or christenings.
Early last year one of the extended family died, which is how I ended up meeting my mum and two family friends at Cottingley Crematorium for the service.
We duly arrived just before 11am, stood around waiting for the hearse to arrive, when I noticed that the mourners seemed a little… white. A quick check with the funeral directors, and it turned out we’d been given the wrong time, so back inside we went into the warmth of the waiting room for another 40 minutes as various other family members I didn’t recognise arrived.
Although it was a cremation there was still a religious service, where the priest did his best to get us all responding at the appropriate points. He waxed lyrical about how Francis was a good man, how Francis loved his family as God had taught, and how our prayers would help send Francis’s soul heavenward.
All well and good, but everyone knew him as Uncle Tony. Pretty sure God wouldn’t insist on his full and proper name being used in order to pass through the Pearly Gates.
“… but the moment has been prepared for”
That was the point I realised it was safest not to leave anything to chance when it came to my own funeral. Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance, and all that.
The first thing I would do is, whatever time the service is supposed to start, to make sure I arrived five minutes late. In death, as in life.
There will be no eulogy. I rarely attend Mass these days and I don’t have a parish priest who knows me as well as the ones when I was a kid did. However, since my nephews and niece stand to benefit substantially from a financial product I took out over 20 years ago, I think it only fair they work for it somehow. I’m thinking that they have to take turns behind the lectern, giving readings from the Gospels according to Tim Vine, Tommy Cooper and Les Dawson.
If I have a terminal illness I’ll get a dumbphone, keep it fully charged and give the phone number out to as many PPI and double-glazing firms as I can find. Then divert them to voicemail, with an invitation to look me up when they join me in Hell.
As for the music: I’ll start off with Abide With Me (it is a favourite), getting progressively sillier until my coffin heads through the curtain, quite possibly to the strains of something from Trumpton, Chigley or Camberwick Green.
Now: all that might seem a little frivolous and possibly insensitive, but I don’t want people mourning me at my funeral. I want them to celebrate all the things I was about.
And let’s face it; if you can’t have a laugh at your own funeral, when can you?