Of life and death and other stuff

Slowly trying to get back in the blogging habit after an Xmas hiatus and birthday shenanigans, actually shenanigans were few and far between, I’m getting too old now.

I have about 20 unfinished posts that I need to work through, not in the sense I have been torturing myself on how to write them, I just started and then had to do something else and never went back to them.    I read about other people’s writing habits how they go back to a post half a dozen times reading it over and over to make them perfect, I’ve never done that, preferring to bang them out quickly (I’m an expert in banging things out) but then you can probably tell that from reading them.

You may recall my Nan died the other week, I went back home to her funeral, it was my first burial.  The surroundings were nice as far as churches and graveyards go, it was settled below the South Downs covered in snow, the churchyard sitting at the end of a country lane.

These aren’t my photos, you can tell as there is no snow in them and I already said it was covered in snow, and I also thought taking photos at a funeral wasn’t wise.  You can read more about the church here, it’s quite interesting, there is a giant Yew tree which is being supported by rather unorthodox scaffolding


This was the view from outside though you could barely see The Long Man of Wilmington, the chalk figure etched into the hillside, since it blurred in with the snow


I honestly thought we would be the only ones there as my Nan was rather reclusive, but then many elderly people arrived, maybe about 20 in total.   I was convinced it’s like when girlfriends get married and judge each others weddings trying to outdo each other, were these elderly ladies taking notes on the type of funeral they wanted?

If so they would have gone away with little, it was very quick.  The host – the religious guy/priest/vicar/father (I’m not sure what rank he was) read out a few chapters of the Bible, we forbade singing and eulogies.  The coffin lowered into the ground on top of her husband who had passed before I was born.  This made me think of sexual positions and we joked what if they had lain them in a 69 position – Laughter really is the best medicine even when it is wholly inappropriate.

There was a nice touch when one single rose remained on the coffin as it descended, Rose was her name after all.   It made me think of the Guns ‘n’ Roses singer, Axel Rose, would he have a Rose on his coffin or would you place part of a car chassis on it?

The vicar wore this grand cape, there was a nip in the air but I found it all a bit theatrical of him.  We joked he was parodying Dracula, and we told people who didn’t attend that we found him squatting atop a gravestone and he leapt off splaying his cape and cackling at us on our arrival.


Camp Dracula

We went round her house the next day, we turned into vultures picking at the scraps of her vintage furniture (I’ve earmarked a drinks bureau).  The stench of urine was pretty intoxicating, but I remembered she always smelt this way 30 years ago, she was 91 when she died.   I hope someone has the decency to tell me I smell, maybe you don’t notice it yourself.   But then I’ve spent the whole afternoon with bits of food in my teeth after having a sandwich on poppy-seed bread and no one had the decency to tell me.

There was a tragic event in Camden Town this week, a 9 metre long shop sign fell on some poor chaps head killing him.   What is amazing is only one person was hit, I walk this stretch of road and it is always busy, and I always walk under that sign of the bookies to check the latest odds in their window.   The news report retrieved statements from many witnesses, all declaring “It’s awful, it could have been me”

What a strange thing to say.  You never say these things when people are rewarded with good luck.  When a couple win £120 million on the lottery no one says “That could have been me”  You just curse them for outwitting the billion to one odds of a winning ticket.

Maybe a terrible event  just makes us question or own mortality.  These random events do strike a chord – they are so sudden.  Tragic accidents occur every day on the roads but there is almost an inevitability to some of those due to the statistics.  There are always some cyclists being killed in my area, but it can be a dangerous thing to cycle in London, there is always an element of risk.  But then you could be in a major city and a tiger attacks you as you stop for a coffee as befell some other poor soul – would that be higher or lesser odds than winning £120 million on the lottery?

There is something incredibly sad which actually strikes me more than the natural death of my Nan, that the lad was likely just on his way for a pint after work, or popping into the supermarket for his dinner that night, or on his way back to the tube after work.   A young life so suddenly snuffed out when your mind is just on your everyday chores.

It’s a tragic situation and such a shame that he never lived long enough to accumulate vintage furniture that his grandchildren would later scrap over.

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  1. Again, so sorry about your grandma. I totally get the joking at a funeral. My brothers and I all cracked little jokes while standing over my father’s open coffin at his wake. We almost had to do it, the reality of what we were going through was almost too much to bear, having a little inside joke helped ease things a bit. Plus, my dad was a very funny guy, I know he’d think it was okay.

    It is strange how we get that sick feeling that ‘it could’ve been me’. Course, this happens more and more the older you get. A friend of mine died in a freak accident last year on an ATV. She left behind two little kids. I kept thinking, damn, I could go any day, couldn’t I? But you can’t dwell on that too much or you’ll never relax enough to enjoy life. Hard to strike that balance.

    • Thanks Darla, sorry for your friend, how awful.

      This poor guy having a sign fell on his head and the other week a helicopter hit a crane in central London and landed on another guy. I always walk looking down so I don’t tread in dog poop and incase I find some money, I think I’ll be looking up from now on.

      You have to laugh when you can, I don’t see it as wrong, it’s a great way of dealing with things.

      I waded into a debate on someone who was Freshly pressed the other day. His post was in reaction to another blogs joke about gay Jesus, the guy who complained was a gay christian and it was the most offensive thing he had ever seen. What got me was he said he enjoyed satire but this was directed at him and his lifestyle. How bizarre, I said everything is game for a laugh or nothing is, you can’t enjoy satire but then not if you are the topic – learn to laugh at yourself. Lighten up dude!

      • Oh god, I saw that helicopter accident and I thought of you. How awful.
        I agree, I think everything can be considered funny if you do it right.

        • It reminded me of Northern Exposure as Maggie’s ex boyfriends all had weird deaths and a satellite fell on one of them

          • Oh god! How I LOVED that show! I watched all the seasons again recently on netflix. Just a great quirky show.

          • Holy cow, I forgot all about how her exes all had untimely deaths. I miss that show.

            • Wasn’t it great, maybe my favourite ever. I always wanted to live there and have a drink in The Brick.

              Who knows there maybe something exciting on the horizon…I may yet be near some small snowy towns if I move to Canada. I’m about to write about it.

  2. You’re very philosophical today.
    Hope the sad recent events inpsire you to go out and enjoy the hell out of yourself.

    • I’ve been doing that too!

      Maybe I’ve just been sensing my own mortality as it also coincides with my chest hair turning white.

  3. Good to read your Nan had a decent send off Joe – I was due to come to London today but there were two suicides on the train lines one in Gloucester and one in Swindon. All that cliched stuff about living for the moment rang true when you told us about that poor lad getting hit by the sign. Life is pretty random. Poppy seeds are a bastard as well.

    • That’s a selfish way to go, causing however many people to miss their train. Even in suicide I’d like to think about others first.

  4. Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen! Oh wait, wrong country.

    I’m sorry to hear about your Nan. I felt the same way when my grandmother died a few years ago — picking through all of her things. I did get quite a few nice antiques, though. However, I must ask: “drinks bureau”??? Is that like a bar?

  5. Good post. I want to explore the English countryside with you and shop for knickknacks and see little old churches.

  6. Although it is nice to know that America is 20 years ahead of you in sign hanging technology!

  7. Condolences again, Joe. I’ve made twisted jokes at funerals and wakes too. You really have to, to keep it bearable. The countryside down there looks really pretty, at least. I’m glad your Nan had some friends come to see her off, there’s nothing sadder than when people are buried and there’s nobody to pay last respects.

  8. Sorry about your grandma Joe


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