Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Funerals and phones

I attended a funeral yesterday. My father's aunt passed away after Christmas, after a short illness. She got a right royal send-off. Horses and carriage, decent wake, the works. And the whole family was there.

It's weird how death can bring a family together. I saw my uncle from London, who I haven't seen in a while. My cousins, my aunties, everyone. Then there were the people who I didn't know, but were familiar faces nevertheless - people from various social and family gatherings spanning a decade or so, faces you see in bars you frequent, etc. etc.

A somewhat antiquated, rusty and downright forgetful vicar began the service. 'How awful', I thought, as he paused to look at his notes to remember the names of my great-aunt's children.

At that point, I began analysing the vicar's performance. It reminded me of the Impressive Clergyman's wizened, bumbling and drawn-out ceremony in The Princess Bride (er, aside from the fact that this was a funeral and not a wedding).

Moreover, I thought that my great aunt would have been tapping her watch and yelling 'Come on man! They've got to go to the crem then the wake yet, you bliddy useless awld fart!' She liked the local social club - that's where the wake was. She loved any excuse for a family knees-up.

We carried on through the service. We reached the point of a prayer: 'let us pray', the vicar said.

Cue the effing Nokia signature tune made famous by Dom Joly ringing out loud and clear from the back of the church. A hushed murmur swept up and down the pews. My sister let out a gasp. I stood inwardly seething at the ignorance of this absolute fool who hadn't had the decency to switch off their phone. My great uncle and my second cousins retained a dignified silence though, and eventually the thoughtless idiot's Uncle Toby stopped ringing.

She wouldn't have appreciated her service being interrupted like that, my great aunt. She'd have whirled around and given a disgusted stare, tutted and then had words with whoever had committed the phone offence. Good on her, I say.

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