Monday, 22 December 2008

French Hens

This post has very little to do with the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I am beginning to wish I had never bothered setting up that particular conceit in any case. However, as I am an honourable man, I will at least include some form of nod towards my great concept. The other night, despite missing out on two questions relating to the Christmas song (d’oh!) I still managed to win the Christmas Quiz (along with my Mum) at the Miner’s Arms – or Drill, as it used to be called – in Morda. I am £15 richer, or was for a brief while, and the proud possessor of what I believe to be a box of Matchmakers and what I know to be a gift pack containing a couple of soaps and a flannel, tastefully mounted on a clear Perspex tray.

But, to coin a phrase I seem to have developed the habit of using, the meat and potatoes of what I will talk about is Tad’s funeral, which I attended this week at Wrexham crematorium. And a magnificent occasion it was, devoid of any religious references whatsoever. The body was sent to the incinerator to the tune of Peaches by The Stranglers. It was my second secular funeral, and seems to indicate something of a trend – not that I am by any means a Graveyard Jane; I have in fact just started counting the number of funerals I’ve been to on the fingers of my second hand. One could say that two secular funerals is indeed not a lot, but as a percentage of the total (33% as it happens) it’s fairly high. I felt, along with many I spoke to, that the tone of Tad's funeral was just right, no doubt partly due to the fact that he himself played a major part in the way it was to be conducted. There was no mention of God, but a gentle nod towards those who may feel the need to consult the great Spaghetti Monster, and a good deal of focus on the life of the man, and the way in which those left behind by his passing might deal with his departure. The service was led by someone called 'Phil' who sounded as if he was a semi-professional speaker, and Tad's father, as well as his great friend Magnus, also spoke. If the tone of my own ceremony is similar to this one, and if even a small percentage of the numbers who went along come to see me off, I will be able to rest relatively easily.

On a continuing theme, I was also struck by the accelerating pace of decline in Oswestry. Any small town is more likely to feel the heat of a recession than a large city, and Oswestry was never the most vibrant of places. Now, despite its Subway and its Costa Coffee, despite its M&S and its Top Shop, the place seems to be sinking ever deeper into the slough of despond. It was a bleak picture indeed as I stood in Willow Street.

Roy Evans

Soon of course, the Wollies will be closed, and there will be fewer reasons than ever for people to inexplicably park their cars in the town. I fear for the future. I really do.

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