Ten years ago I retired from being paid. One of my last acts was to buy a top of the range Marks and Spencer’s dark suit. I reckoned that I was moving into the last quarter and there were going to be funerals to attend. Last week it was Hilary Hayton (1938-2016), a neighbour for nearly forty years. Vivien was more a friend of her partner Maya but either way we saw a lot of them ,not least in the Christmas party season.
Hilary had been the creative director behind Play School, Jackonary and other long running BBC children’s classics. A real larger than life character both locally and professionally. (see link)So the celebration of her life at lovely All Saints on the Common was well attended by BBC types and Putney worthies. Creative professionals mixed with suburban creatives, later they would drink chilled wine and eat ham sandwiches in the gastro pub, The Spencer.
Standard stuff, Jerusalem, Christiana Rossetti, The Lords my Shepherd, Ecclesiastes 3,3-4. Great boogie music as the much decorated cardboard coffin was carried out. Poppy Funerals a welcome company that takes the pomp and nonsense out of the event handled it totally right.
Seven got up and spoke or read. Two of the men broke down,as many often do, as they spoke their eulogies. All the women no doubt also feeling emotion held it together. Was this totally arbitrary or a sign that men now with licence to be emotional, be in touch with their feminine side, are now the emotionally incontinent? While women with emancipation have become stronger and more hardened to the slings and arrows which hurt us all.
We all know its no disgrace to weep, especially at funerals. But there is also embarrassment, after all a eulogy is meant to be a statement about the dead person not an illustration of how upset, grief striken and out of control is the speaker. How ever well meaning and heartfelt. And if you don’t cry does that mean you don’t feel? In my case probably yes.