Funeral for a Friend

Finally, after roughly 4 months, my friend who died back in September has had his funeral.

It is shocking that it has taken so long for this to be arranged, but maybe a sign of the times.

I received an email from his son, letting me know that the service, at an east London crematorium, would be only a few days later. Apparently, once the paperwork had all been corrected (can you believe that his death certificate was made out in the wrong name?), the family were given no choice about when and where the service would be held.

I caught the first train out of Manchester and found my way to the crematorium out past the Olympic stadium, arriving in good time for the service which was at 9:15. The crematorium  is actually in a beautiful setting in a large area of parkland and cemetery – as most of them are, to be fair. But as I passed through the Victorian gatehouse arch and headed to the chapel, it struck me how entirely appropriate it was for the service to be held in such an environment.

It was cold, only just above freezing, and there was a mist in the air. Everyone walking through the grounds was wrapped up in their hats and coats and gloves against the weather. This is how one imagines funerals to be. Maybe it’s different in warmer climes, but to me, this is how they always seem to be. Maybe I’ve only ever been to funerals in the winter, I don’t know. It is the most popular time of year to die, after all.

I thought that the weather and the whole situation was also appropriate for Alain. He was a huge fan of Ingmar Bergman films – all dark and black and white and Swedish 1950s and 60s. His avatar on Twitter was “Death” from Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”, which is a cheery film*.

Given that they are inevitable, a funeral on a cold, damp, misty January just seemed completely right for him

There weren’t many people there, as I anticipated, but I did get to meet his son and his family. They were really lovely people and it’s a shame that we couldn’t have met in different circumstances. But life, and death, are not like that.

I am glad that I made the effort to attend. And I am glad to have known Alain, who turned out to be a lot older and a lot more German than I had thought!


* No it isn’t

And, yes, I do have Elton John playing in the background as I type this.