Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Brooding at the crematorium

Went to a funeral today. My solitary suit, a light grey, mini-tweed bought for my daughter’s wedding (see inset - photo credit Sir Hugh) was out of place, as were my thoughts. Despite being urged I was unable to offer thanks to a god who, I was told, not only bestowed life but created the brain tumour which capriciously subtracted life from a gentle, sixty-year-old woman both of us rather liked. However I held my peace and did my bit. From memory I bellowed “All things bright and beautiful” and would have done the same for “Love divine, all loves excelling.” had I known the tune.

Such ego-centricity! But for a moment emotion exceeded a sense of duty. I suddenly realised that the frail, hunched figure on the front row was Mavis’s bereaved mother! Natural law should ensure parents never have to attend the funerals of their offspring.

MY NEW computer – swank, swank – was assembled to ease my advancing years. USB is great but I hate feeling through the cat’s-cradle at the back to plug in something new. Instead I have a twin-berth dock at the front into which goes: (a) a four-socket USB hub, (b) a hub for camera and mobile phone cards, (c) a remote hard drive holding all the contents – nearly 9 GB – of my previous computer.

JOHNNY-Come-Lately I am almost through Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”, winner of last year’s Man Booker Prize. Would it have been as popular if it had been straplined “How the Tudors did politics.”? Not everyone raves about politics and re-creating historical events as fiction requires a talent for animating the familiar. Mantel has this talent but Gore Vidal (whom I otherwise admire enormously) doesn’t with his accurate but dull series which includes “Burr,” “Lincoln”, etc. Mantel has one failing – anachronisms such as “cutting a deal”.

FUNERARY ADDENDUM Honesty compels this footnote. Both my sisters-in-law died young and horribly, one of cancer of the spine, the other of motor neurone disease. The former took a year to die and spent it - as a Christian believer - in robust dialogue with the local vicar. Her funeral was High Anglican and the vicar was able to refer to the discussions he had had in some detail. Not that my opinion matters, but I found this acceptable. It was exactly what she wanted and I found myself absorbed by the ritual. My other sister-in-law also had time to consider her funeral and chose a Humanist service with music by Brahms and Simply Red. The eulogy wasn't a eulogy as such, simply a number of observations gathered from her nearest family and presented by a man whose only qualificaion was that he was a Humanist. The event made a direct intellectual appeal to me and I was astonished to find myself discussing the service with an elderly aunt whom I had always regarded as a freethinker (she did chemistry at Oxford when this was a distinctly unfashionable career choice for women) and finding her leaning towards country churches with yews and wisteria. I have to say that both funerals fitted the nature and character of my darling sisters-in-law and that this, in the end, is what matters.