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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Signs of life

Well, well. The adrenaline is subsiding, the grief not gone but relieved, the heavy days of scrubbing over, the travelling - for the moment - done. On a cloudy Sunday, Granny is sitting in her London ex-council flat, listening to Radio 3 and looking out at grey skies, grass, green leaves, roof tops -anything more different from the wide, sometimes widely sunny - skies, the burnt land, the almost ready to be harvested vines, of her other, smaller island, would be hard to imagine. She has just made herself breakfast, is knocking back her second bowl of virtuous - ie fair trade - ...coffee. Shortly she will retire to the kitchen to clear up and listen to Antonio Carluccio on Desert Island Discs, then take herself swimming, afterwards spend the afternoon leaving activity to Federer and Nadal as she watches them battle it out - weather permitting. A film later? Maybe. Last night she went to a concert in which her beloved Lucy was playing in the orchestra that backed Natalie Clein and the Haydn cello concerto - such deep-toned ecstasy coming from the Clein cello you wouldn't believe - one of Granny's favourite sounds at the best of times... and this was beyond pleasure. A life of leisure you see - no figs/aubergines/tomatoes needing to be processed here. To hell with the heaps of paper needing her attention: she will deal with them later in the week.

The funeral was as all funerals - getting together the unlikely collections of people only ever seen under the same roof at funerals - or weddings: the more so when someone has been married as many times as Big Brother (not that Granny can talk.) All four children from the three marriages were there, of course, plus five grandchildren. Wife number one turned up with her stepson from her third - now ended - marriage. Wife number two turned up by herself. Wife number three did not turn up - to the relief of all. But her mother did, her two sisters, her brother, her sister-in-law, and various nephews/nieces. Plus there were other relations by marriage - one of whom features sitting in a pram with big brother in an old family photograph - plus fellow-golf players, fellow local politicians, plus childhood friends of Big Brother's Granny has not seen since then, plus the naughty ex-wife of one of his very best friends - very dumpy/respectable these days -best friend has turned reclusive so did not appear. Invocations of past, of future, time rolled into a ball, all mixed up. Weird.

Plus the funeral was a replica of Granny's dad's. Didn't she say Big Brother always wanted to be his Dad? Even his dead Dad it would seem. The readings and the hymns were just the same - Granny loves the hymns at least - all her family goes for good tunes - the only thing missing was the Eton Boating Song played on an electronic organ at exit of coffin. (Youngest nephew did want Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline here, but was over-ruled. Why? On hearing this Granny told her children, firmly, they are to play the Rolling Stones singing Get Off My Cloud, at the end of hers. Strange how any such event at her age, gets you planning your own funeral, and wishing you could be there.) Nieces read the familiar pieces. American nephew gave an eulogy, ending with wishing his dad a heaven that included a permanent Tory government, a golf course and an ice-cream parlour. Granny read a piece sent from Australia by little sister, which grieved for the two of them and made her cry even as she read it. A lot of wine was drunk, before and after; a lot of crying done. Oh and a bemused grave-digger wondered where everybody was - the funeral service was held in a church not attached to the graveyard - and hoped - in the broadest of broad Sussex accents - that this was not another occasion where he'd dug the grave in the wrong place so would have to dig another in a hurry, the congregation inside the church put to singing ever more funeral hymns till he was done. Shakespeare should have heard him. Maybe he did. But all skulls remained firmly underground: Hamlet was not among those present.

Laugh and cry together. Of course. Whatever else?

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