Funeral Games

ImageIt’s commendable – in a way – that total strangers have rallied around to attend the funeral of war veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival. And at least when they gather at the service and go through the usual ‘isn’t it a shame we didn’t… when he was alive..’  it will be so much less hypocritical than when the ritual is carried out by people who actually knew the deceased but couldn’t find the time to get in touch before he/she breathed their last. Well, these things are carried out more for the benefit of the living than for the dead who – unless you believe in that kind of thing – won’t be watching on from on high. Maybe there is some validity in ‘having a good turnout’  when a desperately grieving loved one is left but in this case Harold was a self proclaimed loner and nomad who never married and didn’t have children. He was a veteran from WWII so he probably experienced things that would have snuffed out any bit of sentimentality he may have started out with. Would he have been remotely bothered whether one person or a hundred turned out for his funeral? We’ll never know but the people who’ll troop along tomorrow to attend an event which ever-so-neatly ties in with Remembrance Day will feel better about themselves for a while and, who knows, they may actually start friendships that can be forgotten until one of them dies and those left can meet up at the funeral and say ‘why didn’t we do this when he/she was alive?’

All in all it should be a good do and I’m sure the media will love it. I only wish for two things: firstly that Harold’s new found friends don’t start pointing any sanctimonious fingers at the distant members of Harold’s family who prefer not to be hypocrites and won’t be attending. And secondly: that the people attending show the same concern for a member of their own family – or even (gasp!) a total stranger – who may be languishing in a care home somewhere and who – possibly unlike Harold – would appreciate some company before they die…

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