The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Thoughts of a funeral-goer

Friday, 20 April 2012

 

Posted by Lyra Mollington


I love a man in a kilt.

This week I was treated to the magnificent sight of dozens of men in kilts!  It was Braveheart without all the blood and gore!  As the hearse came through the gates, the pipe band marched at a slow and steady pace, playing Highland Cathedral, one of my favourite tunes on the bagpipes.

With the unsettled weather we’ve been having lately, it was a relief when the sun shone brightly that morning.  But there was also a stiff breeze – just enough wind to add a little drama to the proceedings.

I have to confess that I didn’t know the Scottish gentleman who had died.  I’d heard about the funeral on the grapevine and I felt hopeful that it would be more engaging than the sombre send-offs that have been the norm in recent months.

Whilst I greatly enjoyed hearing the band when we were standing outside, I was relieved that only one of the pipers played as we entered the chapel.  Robbie’s widow looked both dignified and radiant in a pale cream suit and tartan scarf.  Sitting next to her was a man with a beard.  His name was Angus and he read the only eulogy.  He was tall with sturdy calves, and extremely entertaining.  He began like this…

‘Let’s face it, Robbie was a bit of a show-off and he wore his tartan at every opportunity – he didnae save it for best!  Once when he was walking across Trafalgar Square, two middle-aged women approached him.  One of them said, “I’ve always wanted to know but I was too afraid to ask: is anything worn under the kilt?”

“No madam,” said Robbie with a completely straight face. “Everything under my kilt is in pristine condition and in perfect working order.”’

Having lightened the mood, albeit with an old joke, Angus continued by telling us that Robbie was one of three children.  To Robbie’s embarrassment, he was the only one not to have been born in Scotland.  His mother had been visiting friends in Wolverhampton when she went into labour.  This biographical detail was greeted with nods of sympathy – poor Robbie’s secret shame!

Angus was in his stride and he spoke movingly about the people that were closest to Robbie’s heart… his wife; his sons and the Scottish rugby team – not necessarily in that order.  He told us about some of his favourite things – the bagpipes; single malt whisky and Midsomer Murders.

The tribute was wonderful – affectionate with just the right amount of humour.  Perhaps most importantly of all, it wasn’t too long.  He left his audience wanting more.

He ended by telling another joke.  Whilst this is not often a good idea at a funeral, Angus had judged the mood of the mourners well.  It was greeted with laughter and applause.

‘Old Dougie was on his death-bed.  His devoted wife Janet sat at his side and asked, “Anything I can get you, Dougie?”

No reply.

“Have ye no’ a last wish, Dougie?”

His voice weak and frail, he finally said, “Just a wee bit of boiled ham.”

“Och, man,” said Janet. “Ye ken fine that’s for the funeral.”

As everyone was applauding, I noticed that Angus was retrieving something from behind the lectern – it was a bottle of Scotch.  Robbie’s favourite Glenfiddich.  He poured himself a generous measure and, standing in front of the coffin, he downed it in one and bowed his head.  Another round of applause.

As the curtains closed, we sang Flower of Scotland.

There wasn’t a dry eye.

4 comments on “Thoughts of a funeral-goer

  1. Friday 20th April 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Better out than in. The din can be overpowering in the acoustic Bermuda Triangle of a crem.

    Agree about the magic and immediacy of live music. And the sound quality is so much better than that offered by crem speakers.

  2. Friday 20th April 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I know the pipes aren’t popular with everyone but when played well (and I agree Ron Paterson is one of the best) they are very moving. I love live music at funerals.

  3. Friday 20th April 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Ae, ae, rest in peace bonnie lad. I have to say that some of the most moving ceremonies, ( and if I’m honest…to my surprise… ) have included the noisy pipes….it all depends on the quality of the piper , now if it’s the amazing Ron Patterson from Reading, (sturdy calves and everything) he makes them sound sublime…unlike anon from further South whose blended whiskey breath knocks you over before the squalling squeaking strangled whine can!

  4. Quokkagirl

    Friday 20th April 2012 at 8:50 am

    Oh, Lyra. A stiff breeze, kilts, sturdy calves, Glenfiddich and jokes. What a superb funeral. RIP Robbie and bless those who had the foresight to send him into eternity in such a healing way.

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