Queen Elizabeth's funeral was perfect. Now I want a fairy-tale ending too – Susan Morrison
You never hear the term ‘fairy-tale funeral’, do you? I can’t imagine there are scrapbooks or Pinterest boards entitled ‘My Funeral’, with photographs and ideas carefully curated from specialist magazines to inspire the planning for the Big Day.
Yet, unlike weddings, we will all have funerals. We will all have that finally ever after.
Sometimes people say “Just chuck me in the ground, I won’t care”. True, you won’t, but funerals aren’t really about the dead, they’re about the living.
It's usually the last time we stand together in the physical presence of our dead. It’s a moving, sombre occasion, and it's usually the moment for family and friends to stare across the aisle and say: “Who on earth are they?”
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There’s been a wee splash of gossip at just about every funeral I’ve known. At one, my family were burying an aged aunt and were floored when two big burly chaps suddenly appeared and announced that they were her ‘other’ family, from a previous marriage we knew nothing about. The chatter over the shortbread and Co-operative tea was fairly intense that day, I can tell you.
Given my recent thrilling adventures in medicine, it’ll not surprise you to know that I have a keen interest in my own last journey, and am always open to inspiration.
So, if here is such a thing as a perfect send-off, we saw it this week. I took notes, in much the same way as a blushing bride-to-be checking out a royal wedding.
The 142 naval ratings pulling a 100-year-old gun carriage was an impressive touch, but a bit beyond the budget. Could possibly rustle up a couple of Girl Guides and a skateboard. I'll probably make do with the usual hearse arrangement.
Apparently, the pall bearers aren’t available for hire. Pity. Those lads know how to stay cool in the glare of a global spotlight. The men of the Queen's Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards redefined calm and collected, whilst a watching world had its nerves shredded every time they lifted that coffin.
They never put a foot wrong. In fact, no-one did. Even the few who keeled over did it efficiently.
It was a huge, efficient machine clicking into place. I can’t be the only one who saw that massive, co-ordinated, flawless operation go off smoothly and wondered why we can’t bring that incredible organisational ability to bear on sorting out something like the railways. The idea of a couple of Grenadier Guards on the last Saturday night train from Glasgow to Edinburgh is quite appealing.
It was an insane mountain of pomp, circumstance and gold braid, but in the middle of all the scarlet uniforms, marching sailors and prancing horses there was a much-loved mum, granny and great granny.
We were watching a family grieving. We were those people in the pews at the back, looking up front and giving way to gossip, asking: "Which one is he? Who is that? Really? He's aged. Is she still married to him? He's got a cheek showing his face.”
And when it was all over, we had a cup of tea and looked forward. Life really does go on.
Just wondering, how much does a fly-past cost? Just a small one? Could we go for one of those radio-controlled model Spitfires?