Funeral for a friend

Charles Cowling


The following is by Matthew Parris in his Times column (£). A nice little snapshot of a typical modern British funeral.

I went on Friday to the funeral of my dear and (very) old friend Barbara Carrington, my landlady once. It was a humanist funeral: beautiful, simple, unsentimental, with the reader not sheepishly overstating, as vicars sometimes do, her acquaintance with the deceased, but instead reading a story of Barbara’s life, as recounted by family and friends. Barbara always said that I’d be late for my own funeral and I was nearly late for hers, overtaking, as I raced over Chesterfield Moor, a pale grey hearse. Hers? Surely not.

Not. The coffin was already there as I arrived in the nick of time. But as I left, still rushing to finish my Saturday column, that pale grey hearse drew up. Doubtless for the next funeral, but I had the momentary and illogical feeling that I had just broken the equivalent of the sound barrier, racing half an hour ahead of time itself, overtaking the deceased on the way to her own funeral.

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