Today was Bill’s funeral.
It was cold, grey and blustery at Aldershot crematorium as we all stood around outside waiting. There were a lot of red and blue scarfs, some Aldershot Town football shirts and too much black. I knew hardly anyone…except for the old guys from the Slab.
Rachel the Vicar started off by telling us about Bill’s life. It was a lovely, well researched piece about a man she clearly hadn’t met. As far as I’m aware, Bill wasn’t a religious man. Nicktor was also unaware of any faith based relationship in Bill’s life. Possibly the Vicar was Bill’s mother’s idea. Still, the Brief History of Bill which Rachel recited was lovely and spotted with a few laughs.
Then we had Bill’s oldest friend, Steve. He gave a lovely eulogy during which he risked falling apart. He told us he’d practised it a lot in order to try and guard against the inevitable tears. He told us about a Bill that many of us hadn’t known.
It could have ended there, the service I mean, and all would have been fine but then it started going downhill.
Rachel the Vicar asked us to sit and think about our own memories of Bill while a short piece of music played. That’s a lovely idea, I thought. Then the music started. It was a piece for piano and violin and was mournfully sad. All it did was remind us of the great sadness that had brought us together.
Then the religious bit started. It was the usual excuses for the apparent cruelty of a capricious god who is, supposedly, a loving father. I found it insulting and heartless. I glanced across at Bill’s wife, Gill, and wanted to tell her…I don’t know; something comforting I suppose. Of course I didn’t – I’ve never met her. She’d have screamed and called for the police. I just felt she needed a hug and not the false hope of an eternity in a mythical kingdom where Bill would be waiting, presumably always looking 56.
We also sang a couple of hymns. Morning Has Broken which I thought was written by Cat Stevens and All Things Bright and Beautiful which Mirinda thought was written by James Herriot. (Actually, they were both written by serious faced Victorians.)
There was a bit of overlong and pointless praying which, I noticed, not a lot of people joined in with. Nice to see I wasn’t the only logical person there. Possibly the highlight was Bill’s exit music: Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads.
As we stood outside I realised that a funeral is possibly one of the only times people don’t have their phones out, snapping away at everyone. Which is odd, really. We record every event in and during our lives, hoping to remember them but not the last, the final major event. Mind you, the Catholics might, given the open casket thing.
Having had enough, we all piled into our cars and headed over to the British Legion Club to talk about Bill, look at photos and enjoy some beer and food without any reference to fairy tales about evil oppressors.
Bill was a good bloke who’ll be missed a lot. By a lot. Fortunately, no amount of god-nonsense will change that.