The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Preparing For The Inevitable

Posted by BigWords on December 9, 2009

There are always threads on forums about which music people would like played at their funeral. It’s a universal constant, and – as sure as night follows day – someone bringing up Robbie Williams’ Angels as a perfect song for a funeral is similarly predictable. It’s kind of a game, waiting to see how many posts it will take before it gets mentioned, and at the same time is so very, very uninspiring. I get depressed when someone mentions it now, because it has become the song by which so many people think is suitable for matches and dispatches. You’re only gonna get one funeral, so you might as well have something invested in the occasion.

Me? I’ve been planning my funeral since I was sixteen. Seriously. Women, stereotypically, spend a large part of their adolescence preparing for their big day, but I’ve while they were picking the perfect dress and choosing the absolutely best meals possible, I’ve been thinking about the kind of send-off I would like. It’s not, as some might think, as morbid and sombre as occasion as it is represented in some cultures, and should be a day when the real personality of the departed should shine through like a beacon. Being so serious about the day would go against everything I do, and it would be hollow and fake to present myself (in death) as if I was a saint.

There have been many funerals I’ve attended where I wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. The kind of funerals where the speeches are delivered in a robotic monotone, and where people weep in near-silence. Gimme a fuckin’ break. Those are horrible. Those are the kind of funerals where I wish I was dead, just so I didn’t have to be there, and getting drunk is rarely a sensible option. Which is the entire thinking behind my plans for the perfect funeral. It’s simply a matter of wanting people to enjoy a day out, rather than be forced to confront the possibility that one day they too might have a boring-ass funeral where people checked their watches every three or four minutes.

I want there to be theatre, I want there to be music, I want there to be fun. I’ll lay out a brief glimpse of my (current) draft, in the hopes that the funeral of the next person I have to attend isn’t as suck-ass as most.

First off there has to be a procession. I don’t care if they are seen as old-fashioned, because I like the idea of a bunch of people walking to the grave. Maybe a hundred people, dressed in long black robes with their heads bowed. A slow, steady pace. From out of nowhere, near the back of the crowd, a harlequin-dressed dwarf will run through the mourners to the front of the procession, where he will do a dance. This is going to be the cue for a bunch of trumpeters mixed in with the procession to begin playing Entrance Of The Gladiators by Julius Fučík. Yes, the circus song. At the same time, fire-eaters would throw off their robes to reveal bright multicolored costumes and fill the sky with flame.

I’ve thought about this a lot. There should be stilt-walkers, clowns, and acrobats. There should be fun. There should also be readings of literature in the mix as well. I’m particularly fond of the following piece, taken from Wordsworth:

What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,–a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
Below, the open space, through every nook
Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive
With heads; the midway region, and above,
Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls,
Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies;
With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles,
And children whirling in their roundabouts;
With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes,
And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd
Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons
Grimacing, writhing, screaming,–him who grinds
The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves,
Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum,
And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks,
The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel,
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.–
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,
Are here–Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o’-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years’ Children, Babes in arms.

If you’ve got to go out, at least go out in style… Right?

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One Response to “Preparing For The Inevitable”

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