Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 11 October 2012
Afghan hounds in deepest Somerset
Today started early with a marathon phone call to my distressed niece, and it consisted mainly of me reassuring her that she had a perfect right to be distressed, having lost her mother so recently, and that I would have been amazed if she had not been.
Of course, the subject of the looming funeral was brought up, and she said that she was dreading it. I said that nobody likes funerals, but I have never met anyone who has regretted going to one yet, though I have met one or two people who have regretted not going to one.
Funerals are an essential ritual for the living, and doing without them creates a steaming mess of unfinished business. You may think that you are attending a funeral for the sole sake of others, but in reality, they help everyone including yourself, whether or not you believe in some sort of afterlife. Selfishly, I often hope that I kick the bucket before H.I. but this thought is so selfish that I sometimes feel ashamed of myself for even considering the possibility.
By reminding niece about the purpose of these rituals, I also reminded myself - and this at a time when Jimmy Savile's family are smashing up his tombstone and throwing it into a skip in disgust.
Niece's family are far from affluent, but there is hardly ever a time when a poor parent dies leaving their children with nothing. I know what my Sis's final gift to niece will be - strength.
My father left me 'courage', but I am not sure whether these things are gifts, or if we just take them without asking. In any event, we all know that they would never be refused if actually asked for in life, so I don't think it makes much difference either way.
Niece has been struggling with her day to day life for a long time now, and much of it has been taken up with her mother, so the hole left in her life is that much the greater. Ironically, the event she has been dreading for so many years will actually help in the long-term, now that it has actually happened. Of course, she does not understand this yet and I'm not sure she will on a conscious level, but as I keep telling her, it's early days and nothing will be resolved until after the funeral.
I think that I may be taking her to an animal sanctuary in Somerset during the next few days, so she can visit friends she has there, as well as the animals. Apparently, feral dogs often wander into the military bases of Afghanistan, and are fed and befriended by the British soldiers.
If a soldier can afford to, he will fly the dog back to England after his tour of duty has finished, because they often cannot bear just leaving the poor things behind to return to the miserable lives they had before their arrival.
So deep in the heart of Somerset, there are a bunch of very 'foreign-looking' (according to niece) mutts wandering happily around a different compound, moaning about the weather like true Brits and learning to play the piano in their spare time.
I'll get off the subject of death shortly, I promise, but right now it seems to be at the top of my agenda, and certain duties have been thrust upon me. It is another unexpected and welcome spin-off that I am in such close contact with niece after all these years though, so I am sort of enjoying it in a strange way.
Oh, and by the way, that award-winning playwright sent me an email last night, saying he would be happy (sigh) to see a few pages of my story at some point, so maybe my suicidal gambit wasn't so suicidal after all.
I did take the opportunity to apologise to him as some of you suggested, but added that - of all the other successful writers I knew - he was the one I least cared about pissing off with my bad manners. All the others throw very nice dinner-parties, and I would hate not to be invited to them ever again.