Friday, October 01, 2004
Third funeral I’ve been to, and they don’t get any less strange, whether they’re for your brother’s housemate who died slowly of testicular cancer or for a 70 year old philandering ex policeman who pickled himself with gin. The readings were well chosen – “Religion did not play a part in Ron’s life” – too right – “Two things you never talk about in the pub, Nick, and that’s religion and politics. Unless someone else brings them up and gets uptight about it, in which case you have fun with both of them. I’m a radical muslim” – on other occasions he’d be a radical Marxist, a devout atheist, a communist, a conservative, whatever it took to try and alter a perception of the world that he thought was too narrow (which was ALL OF THEM, except his, obviously). For the first week, back when I was 18, I thought he was amazing. For the next four months I thought he was a bastard and hated me. Then somebody pointed out that the reason he vanished upstairs every time I came on shift wasn’t because he thought I was a twat, but because he trusted me to run the bar in his pub while he spent time with his daughter. Over the next four and a half years, three of them spent away at university and only back at Christmas, Easter and summer, the pub was my second home and he was my second dad. I told this to his – not wife – partner last night. I said “He was a sod, but I loved him to bits.” She laughed. And then she cried a bit more. “He was; he absolutely was. But we did.” One time his best mate in the village went away on holiday to Spain (he was on holiday yesterday too – he departed the day his friend died – I don’t know if he knows yet, but his son was at the funeral) and by the time he got back my (ex) boss (Rocket) had procured a “Sold” sign and attached it to the gate of his (Swifty’s) house. Then there was the incident with the football and the river, when Bam Bam had to save Swifty with a hosepipe after Rocket had made a bet with Swifty that he couldn’t kick a football across the stream. Father’s day, that one. Lots of others. Silly things. Numerous faux-official letters sent on properly headed paper acquired from friends who worked for the council or university or Tesco or who ran funeral directors, more wind-ups than you’d imagine business men in their 50s would- there were a lot of very hard men not quite crying yesterday. A lot of men who run businesses and have shares in race horses and spend weekends away drinking legendary amounts of alcohol. Like I say, very strange.
The man on the cliff was lying down on the bench in the observation shelter this morning. I wondered if he was dead.
10/01/2004 09:03:00 am