Sunday, 11 July 2010


England have crashed out of the world cup, Murray is out of Wimbledon despite giving it his best shot and it's raining. Could there be a better time to write about funerals?

At my age I've attended many of them. I've seen off all my Grandparents - although one Grandad only succumbed at the ripe old age of 96. Various Uncles and Aunts have dropped off their perches. Thankfully a few remain though some look a little grey around the temples. Notably, my Uncle Roy stipulated that when we saw him off, nobody was to wear black - in fact he requested that everyone wore hunting pink and so we did. I spoke at both my parents' funerals - not a dry eye in the house. I know how to milk a situation!

The worst by far of course, are the funerals of children. It's just not meant to be like that. The small coffin is hard to bear (excuse the pun). It is also usually the case that when the deceased is young, there is standing room only in the chapel. Sadly, as a teacher of special needs children many of whom were life-limited, I attended many such events.

Now that I am in my sixties, I face a new challenge - attending the funerals of my own peer group. As the actor Ray Winstone said in a recent interview in the Times, "Losing elders is tough but it's losing mates and contemporaries that makes you realise you're a man and not a kid anymore". The trouble is, they are dropping off the same perch as the one that my claws are tightly gripping.

It does make you think though. I mean, have you ever considered what you would like written on your tombstone? There are many examples of 'Tombstone Humour'. One I rather like is

"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, stepped on the gas instead of the brake".

Then of course there is Spike Milligan's well-known gaelic epitaph "I told you I was ill" - though it had been used before his demise, he seems to get the credit for it. Maybe I'll go for "I don't suppose we could we make it best of three?"

My Grandad is my inspiration. My aim is to pass his 96 years and receive the royal telegram when I make it to 100. If that fails, I shall follow in the claw steps of the Monty Python 'Dead Parrot' sketch. My feet will be firmly nailed to the perch with no chance of my dropping off.


  1. your observations as ever as spot on Tony.

  2. I love this saying :

    remember that “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved manner, but to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand & vodka in the other.

  3. To many funerals of peers. A bit scary.. i do think I have good "Claws" to hold on with LOL