Cleaned myself: WIP
Monkey see, monkey do: 0
Believe in God? You what?
A cautious adopter of new ideas, I left for the funeral containing nine undigested eggs. Hard boiled quails for prudence, left to settle overnight in a bowl of olive oil, six above, and three below. Until late on I was not going to go, but, as it ever was, mother’s husband assumed to know that I will automatically know what is the right thing to do. I am his spawn after all.
The funeral was scheduled for a neutral space otherwise known as the band hall, but to be officiated by clergy. It lies about 50 yards from the far corner of the first team pitch, but is a little longer by the roads and pathways. The buffet being set up back at the club.
There’s something casual and half-arsed about it, as if a bunch of nine-year-olds have been given free reign to organise their own party, and on arriving suddenly realise that no one’s done it for them. I meet Johnny Carver at the back of the hall as I arrive, and he smiles conspiratorially with me as I arrive, as if us two are the mischievous rogues of the party to whom the rules do not apply.
‘Been advancing the career I see,’ he says as Big Tooth and her family file past us. ‘I’m planning to kill them all when I’ve married her,’ I say. Just to, you know, keep him vigilant. Then he said something that I didn’t catch, like ‘whoa, two in a year.’ It sounded pretty nasty so I said, ‘what?’ as aggressively as I could, and it came with this sort of wretch-cum-belch-cum-yell, which I put down to the eggs, and which made it come out better than I’d planned.
Instead of repeating whatever vile thing it was he’d said, the rocksteady prick changes tack and starts being all comradely.
‘Tell you what buddy, roll on the new normal eh? We were in Ibiza last week, you know, picking up the bonus cheques. What a buzz being back with the guys.’
‘Did you go for a ride on one of those big bananas?’ I ask.
He says no, but tells me that they had a tremendous night out on the day of the dishing out of the cheques, where one of his buddies was persuaded to buy a six-litre bottle of Veuve Cliquot for £40,000. It was brought to them by a gorgeous blond sitting on a model train, he adds. I wondered if the blond got a decent commission, and whether she’d worked for the nightclub since before that lunchtime, but I hadn’t formed my question when the bereaved parents arrived.
Immediately Johnny switches to this sympathetic figure who strikes the right note with them. The things he says seem inappropriate but he has this sort of grown-up’s voice going on, and they hang on his words, as if he’s a sort of dignitary whose time and attention means a lot to them in their time of grief. I hear him remind them of the time that their daughter took off her clothes and went for a swim in the fresh bath just before the first-team came in at the end of the match, and think that he has made a grievous error, but even that is well received. He goes from there to telling them that their daughter was an absolute stunner; it should have been a dreadful thing to say but somehow wasn’t. When they stopped laughing, the mother turned to me and said, ‘Dickie,’ then they went on their way to the front row of the seats.
Despite the no-religion, a hymn is sung, and then something of a sermon. Though it is looser. The priest is without vestments and he’s got this inclusive thing going on. I imagine one parent is a believer, and the other is intelligent. Not being sexist but from what I’ve seen, I’m going Mrs/Mr on that split. As we sit down from a standing-up bit, I emit another of those involuntary egg-based yelps, and the cortege, if that is what a collection of mourners is called, turns to look at me. I thought I did a good job of turning it into an ‘amen’ but even so, it stood out a bit. So much so that the priest said, ‘of course, come on up. We’d like to hear what she meant to all of you.’
All I knew about her was that she once went on a bouncy castle and Orville squashed her to death when a moment of sexual revelation came upon him, so I had no choice but to try and emulate my nemesis in my sweet little eulogy.
I thought it went reasonably well, especially since my contribution ended up encouraging another ten or so, but Big Tooth deflated my post-match pride back at the buffet when she said, ‘it’s funny to think of you looking at a young girl swimming naked in the bath. Where were you when you saw it?’
I now live in the adapted end of the shed. Not least to accommodate the egg diet.
Thanks to Rifqi Ali Ridho for the image.