And there was wailing and gnashing and sandwiches and sherry – on funeral imagination

The present can be a difficult place to occupy. Many people spent their days remembering how much better things were in the past, others look to a joyful future, it is just now that is always not quite what you wanted. Perhaps the best thing to do is remember that what is happening now will soon be in the past, and once it is safely there, it can be remembered as much better than you thought it was at the time. 

I enjoy imagining what things will be like so much that I can be quite content without them ever actually happening. That meeting where you talked of the possible funding of your film – revel in those thoughts of your Oscar speech, of becoming friends with Bill Murray, of your Vanity Fair cover, and your future of carte blanche to create anything you want and always with a vast and delightful weight of accolade on your shoulders like 24 carat epaulettes. 

Do other animals daydream? Does a fox imagine breathlessly and victoriously looking back on a lost pack of Beagles and some huntsman in a huff? Does an Octopus dream of its children leaving home and living an undersea life unburdened by feeding duties? Hopefully it is unaware that, once they’ve fled further out to sea, it’ll die, starved and rotting under a rock.

The ability to imagine the future has its pitfalls too. The horror of penury means we might sacrifice quite a lot of living to make sure we earn money for all those things we think we need. It may mean that we submerge our ethics fearing personal economic woe. We hate reading of tax avoidance and venal corporate shenanigans, but we usurp these worries when we see the internet bargain offer or a level of coffee convenience that save sole wear. 

Child labour disgusts me, but these trousers are so very attractive. 

The other pitfall of prescience is knowing we are going to die. You might believe that your consciousness goes to play harps on a cloud, but you know that this flesh and skeleton is finite. It’s smoke and soil for this carriage. 

Combining the fear of death and optimism for the future, it is fun to imagine your funeral. How many times have you stared out of a window and imagined the eulogy about you?

Who is in your front pew?

How loud is the gnashing of teeth?

Just who is mournfully and wholeheartedly declaring the like of you will never be seen again?

On dull days, you might imagine a Gatsby funeral. How did you end up forgotten? 

What is that vicar saying, he hasn’t even pronounced your name correctly and you never had an interest in 15th century tapestry and Santana, someone must have been telling lies about you, or maybe he’s got mixed up with the 11.30 internment. And why is there a vicar anyway, you asked for a humanist service. Look, there’s your wife laughing and riding a bull with a swarthy matador… Better start imagining this again, something has gone awry. 

That’s better, back to a friend in the pulpit reminding everyone of your artistic importance, by jingo, they are weeping, what accolades and anger that they have said in death what they wish they had said in life. You pan across the pews, a good turn out, hang on, what’s that Matador doing in the back row, get that bullfighter out of here again.

Sometimes, mainly in youth, these imaginings can be spurred by vindictiveness. 

That slow and oppressive and frightening time at school, the waiting to be pounced on, that uncertainty whether a brief trip to the urinals will lead to an ambush and head in the toilet. 

In your pent up frustration and inability to see an end, you imagine a melodramatic suicide, “that’ll show those thugs and odorous ogres of low brain and moronic, thoughtless laughter”. A flash of funeral appears, oh how their faces look heavy with regret for what they did to you. Then, you remember you’ll be dead and they’ll be alive. You’ll lose that one, and you stop looking at the drop from the fire escape and remember that even Dorothy Parker realised, “you might as well live”. 

Now stop your daydreaming of eulogies, and get on with doing something, no point on doing it all for a pulpit speech you’ll never see, but make a note that the entry rules will include No Matadors and a coffin with an interior “break glass i case of suddenly being alive” alarm system. Damn, I read Edgar Allan poe too young. 

 

I am off to Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham, Bristol, Chorley, Falmouth, Southampton and a town near you soon. Details HERE

 

and here is trailer 2 for my latest DVD released last week (Bible version)  HERE

 

 

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2 Responses to And there was wailing and gnashing and sandwiches and sherry – on funeral imagination

  1. Inga says:

    I never imagined the eulogy or the funeral. I only ever compiled lists of who would get which of my worldly posessions.

  2. I remember being smarter, wittier, more sociable and in much better shape. My wife tells me I wasn’t. Maybe that will be my Eulogy.
    Good post as always, Robin.

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