David Hall, of Vintage Lorry Funerals, always speaks to the Florist who is creating the Family’s Floral Tributes at the earliest opportunity after his lorry has been booked for a funeral. David designs a layout that will feature the Family’s Tributes prominently, he makes a sketch of his ideas and emails it to the Family for approval. A salient feature in every layout is the facility to accommodate extra flowers which turn up at the Family home. Up to three Flower Trays can be pulled out from beneath the front display, filled with flowers and then positioned around the coffin, and this additional ‘pop up’ facility is ideal for funerals in the current economic downturn, however, a requirement beyond the three trays unexpectedly hit David during a funeral in Carshalton on November 19th 2007.
When David had the layout for the Late Bobby Dudley signed off by his Family, his Daughter-in-Law, Sharon, warned that there would be stacks of flowers. However, having heard this many times before, David assumed that the 8 Family Floral Tributes would become 12 or 14 based on the pattern of funerals at the time. When David parked the Leyland Beaver outside Gillman Funerals he was oblivious to what he was about to encounter.
On going through the door all that David could see was flowers. There were flowers on desks, on chairs, and on the floor with large scale Tributes so tightly packed the carpet could not be seen. It was as if a tsunami had swamped Carshalton and washed up flowers into Gillman’s shop. George Hards, Funeral Arranger, was diligently attempting to document each Tribute, identifying who had sent it, trying to segregate those he had documented whilst more and more were being delivered. When confronted with such a situation where many flowers must be loaded, the one element that can’t be changed is the time available. The only way forward is to adopt a strategy of loading the Family Floral Tributes first and using a tactic of acting like a machine, to be totally focused on the current and next tasks and not to be distracted by anything or anybody.
However, building such a large display of flowers always attracts the attention of members of the public who often ask questions. Although David is always civil and speaks to people despite the pressure, he often wishes he could hold up cards, like Bob Dylan did in the Subterranean Homesick Blues video, displaying information such as, ‘1950’, ‘No Powered Steering’, ‘No Heater’. Some people on seeing such a large volume of flowers think back to Princess Diana’s funeral. As David was climbing up his ladder with another two tributes in his hands, he felt two sharp prods in his back and he turned around to see a small elderly lady in a fur coat and hat, accompanied by a well attired gentleman. The lady with a cut glass accent enquired, ‘I say, for which famous person is this wonderful display being created?’ David replied, ‘Bobby Dudley’. The lady looked inquisitively at her husband and said, ’I’m afraid we don’t know Bobby Dudley.’ David said, ‘Bobby Dudley the Carshalton Coalman.’ The lady began to twist her face, as if she had tasted lemon juice thinking it was going to be orange juice and exclaimed, ‘Surely not for a Coalman.’ David put his arm around her and whispered in her ear, ‘You don’t need to be famous to be treated like royalty.’
David went back into Gillmans to get another two Tributes and just as he was about to
climb the ladder he felt two prods in his back. He turned around and the lady in the fur coat asked, ‘Does one have such a thing as a business card with one’s contact details?’
The interest people showed in the rear display will be detailed next month.