If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday 24 January 2012


Things will be quiet here today, as I will be at the funeral of a close family member. I was speaking to the guy at a family occasion in November and he was not well. Investigations were under way. By Christmas he was in hospital, and he died last week. It seems that the medics were so intent on finding what was wrong with the first complaint that they missed the cancer that was poised to rage through him somewhere else. The speed of his decline has been utterly shocking for everyone.

That's two in a month. And it's starting to be 'my' g-g-g-generation.

In Wales, solemn black is still de rigeur for funerals. It is quite a shock to attend a funeral in England and to see the men dressed in pale lounge suits and bright comedy ties or, even worse, patterned jumpers and chinos. "It's what he would have wanted."


  1. "The speed of his decline has been utterly shocking for everyone."

    A situation I am very familiar with. Although in my father's case they didn't seem to think there was much wrong, and once again, missed extensive cancer until it was too late.

    You have my sympathy.


  2. Condolences, Richard.

    My Brother-out-law is going through the long-term diagnostic thing, and there is always that suspicion that the Consultants are so busy looking in detail at their own speciality that nobody considers the whole picture.

    I'm afraid that I'm one of those in a not-very-dark grey suit, because it's the only smart clothing I own. It's only dragged out of the back of the wardrobe once every three years or so, so can't justify the expense of a black suit for such occasional use.

    I don't really look right in smart clobber; more as though I stole it from the person it was originally made for. Wouldn't dream of going to a funeral in my only other option of jeans, though.

  3. MD - same with my father. He had a minor op where the cancer should have shown up to anyone looking for it, but they weren't. By the time he was diagnosed, it was inoperable. At least he was given six months: in the case of the late gentleman today, it was five weeks from feeling a bit poorly to stone dead. Makes you think.

    Mick - I have no problem with whatever anyone wears to a funeral, really. If all I had to go in was the bike gear, I would do it, and sod anyone who objected. I suppose for me it is part of a regret about changing standards, and a decline in formality in areas where I feel formality is good. If you turn up to mine wearing a clown's outfit shan't mind! (There was someone in jeans there today, but she was quite fit, so I let it pass.)

    It was a great send-off and, unusually for a funeral, the singing was loud and confident. Having Cwm Rhondda as the second one helped. Ad hoc harmonising everywhere: every man his own barbershop. Great fun.

  4. Music can so often be the key to how people feel about a funeral, and it's entirely subjective. I can understand how a Welsh funeral wouldn't be the same without the singing!

    The play-out music for my Uncles funeral was Layla, and we included the Ying Tong Song for my Father. Very evocative of both their characters.

    1. Funnily enough, most funerals I have been to have had appalling singing, even in Welsh Wales. I reckon no-one feels much like belting it out on these occasions. Today's was an exception. The organist played everyone out afterwards with the Pie Jesu from Faure's Requiem. That's when I cracked.

      The Ying Tong Song I like.

  5. A close relative died just before Christmas, funeral last week. I had to devise a 'no fuss, not religious' ceremony to satisfy the 'wishes'. It was harder than I thought.In the end I went for the philosophy of life according to AA Milne for the final reading:

    "Pooh", said Christopher Robin, "when I'm, you know - when I'm not doing nothing, will you come up here sometimes?"
    "Just me?" said Pooh.
    "Yes Pooh".
    "Will you be here too?" said Pooh.
    "Yes Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be Pooh."
    "That's good" said Pooh.
    "Pooh promise you won't forget about me ever. Not even when I'm a hundred"
    "How old shall I be then?" said Pooh.
    "Ninety nine"
    "I promise" said Pooh
    Still with his eyes on the world, Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's paw.
    "Pooh" he said earnestly "if....if I'm not quite..." he stopped and tried again."Pooh whatever happens, you will understand won't you?"
    "Understand what?"
    "Oh nothing", he laughed and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"
    "Where?" said Pooh
    "Anywhere" said Christopher Robin
    So they went off together.

    It went down well.

  6. Very risky! Glad it went down well :)

    It's one of my favourite passages from WtP and, if you include the last sentence, jerks a tear from me every time (I assume you left this out for reasons of not going totally OTT):

    "But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing."


  7. Whole body CT scan on a regular basis is the way to go.

    Probably too expensive for our beloved NHS especially if too mnay people stop smoking.

    Thanks for reminding me of AA Milne.
    And condolences for your loss.


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