Posted by David Hall
With Vintage Lorry Funerals website displaying David Hall’s contact details, some Families seek to book the 1950 Leyland Beaver directly to avoid the margin that some Funeral Directors seek to impose.
David’s mobile is always switched on, apart from when he is involved with a funeral, when the silent mode is set up. However, some Families ring David in the evening knowing that he will take a call in contrast to most Funeral Directors who transfer their calls to a night service after 1630 hours. On Boxing Day 2011 David was at home with his family when his mobile rang. Initially he thought that it was his Sister wishing him Greetings of the Season, but it was a Birmingham Family whose Dad had just passed away.
When the funeral details were confirmed by the Funeral Arranger, she was surprised that David had asked for the contact details for the Florists and refused to provide this information. David spoke with the Family, got the contact details and quickly had an idea for a layout once he knew the description of the Floral Tributes. Cognisant that the Family were originally from Ireland, David saw a way of including a Tricolour Flag within the display and the Contact Person in the Family thought this concept was amazing and asked David to keep this development secret from the rest of the Family.
On the morning of the funeral David arrived early at the Funeral Directors affording him plenty of time to load the flowers which included three ‘Name Tributes’. When David was in the middle of assembling the display the Funeral Arranger apologised for not being on the same wavelength regarding information on the flowers. She obviously had expected that the flowers would be of low priority and positioned on the deck around the coffin as if they were in a hearse. She explained that she never had anticipated a multilevel display and couldn’t have imagined the amount of work involved building the support structure. Normally David sketches out his ideas on a layout and emails this drawing to all interested parties, however, the secret regarding the use of the Tricolour meant that this procedure could not be followed on this occasion.
In addition to the ‘Name Tributes’ there was a ‘Gates of Heaven’ which David placed near the Head of the coffin to create the image as if the Deceased had passed through the Gates of Heaven and this meant a lot to the Family.
There were a number of smaller wreaths and a posy which included two Meerkat statues to depict the TV advert featuring these animals which was a favourite of the Deceased.
The off-loading and re-loading at the Church went according to plan. However, as the vintage lorry approached the graveside at the far end of the cemetery it was evident that something was badly wrong. As David was starting to remove the ratchet straps, he was advised to stop as apparently the wrong grave had been dug. Tragically the Mourners had to wait until a new grave was prepared in a distant location near the entrance. As David had driven into the cemetery a host of cars had followed the lorry and the drivers had deposited the cars hurriedly either side of the cemetery road near to graves. Consequently the way back to the entrance would very difficult with obstacles on either side to be avoided. The Contact Person in the Family accompanied David as he surveyed the route and got some of the cars removed. There was plenty of time to do this as the delay was over 90 minutes.
Having started at 0400 hours and never eaten since leave home, David’s blood sugar levels were getting low at 1400 hours. David needed to eat his sandwiches. However, he felt that it would be inappropriate to eat in front of the mourners, who would also be hungry. David called the Head Mourner across to his lorry and quietly explained his predicament. David offered him his Toffee Crisp but the Head Mourner politely declined David’s kindness, telling him he could eat what he wanted.
Although it wasn’t appropriate to share his thoughts with the Family he couldn’t help relating the events happening before his eyes in the cemetery, with the 1971 Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, which featured the Andre Previn sketch. In front of David one man was working frantically and a number of people were wondering how this could have happened, telling him that he had dug the wrong grave. David felt the Grave Digger should have responded with, ‘I’ve dug the right grave, but not necessarily in the right part of the cemetery.’