Terminally hip? Sheena MacDonald would miss her own funeral.
There are two causes ofdeath. ; and only two.
Shock or asphyxiation. Or so a doctor told me once.
So much for the method. What about the manner? Once again. there are. according to convention. only two options. You can go ‘quietly‘ or you can go ‘suddenly‘.
Neither has ever seemed exact or adequate. ln idle moments. l‘ve toyed with something a little more original. How about ‘reluctantly‘? Or ‘loudly‘? ()r ‘disbelievingly".’
I considered the matter again recently. I‘d been invited to plan my own funeral.
Not much of an invitation. you think? Let me clarify the circumstances. It wasn't exactly a case of ‘if Moddom would like to slip into these concrete pyjamas— just for size. Moddom! — mm. snug. . .‘ No. no — nothing so sinister.
Nor was it any Book-Early- (let-'l'wo-For—The-Price-()f—One Introductory Offer from some johnny-come-lately undertaker. anxious to underwrite his Garden Of Remembrance All-Weather Patio Extension with guaranteed future custom. who had spotted my flu-ravaged and malingering form shuffling wearily back from the corner-shop. a litre of Lucozade slipping from my feeble grasp. a consumptive rattle shaking in the dry wisp of my stringy gullet.
Nothing so entrepreneurial.
It was rather the whimsical idea of a media-producer — to offer a handful of the hale and hearty the opportunity to supervise the method and style of their eventual despatch.
At least. I presume he fingered the appointed half-dozen on account of
their rude health. and not because he‘d had any supernatural advertisement of their forthcoming premature departure. At any rate. I accepted the offer in the spirit in which it was made. and blithely set about this macabre exercise in Let’s Pretend.
Where to start? What to wear. perhaps? A modest winding-sheet or The Dress. with ALL the petticoats- and a vast and spreading catafalque to match. colour-coded and gilded with tricky little references to the loves and lifestyle of the lamented corpse therein: a floppy disc. a parking-ticket. a final tax-demand. an Access bill. a carryout foil container and chopsticks. a Marks and Spencer prawn mayonnaise sandwich . . .
What to sing? The Verdi Requiem? All ofit or just the good bit on a loop? Where to hold the wake? What to serve? And what permanent memorial to select? A marble urn? A copse of cherry-trees? A plaque? 7
I‘m not sure at which point I became aware of the terrible luxury of the whole exercise. Perhaps it was when I missed a head-on encounter with a racketing. rocketing joyrider doing wheelies on my side of the crescent by — what? — five seconds. two seconds?
Or perhaps it was glancing at the television monitor as l galloped past on some self-important little mission to explicate something or other of vital moment to the panting tele-masses. and yet again not believing what I saw and heard — that violent death does occur without glamour or ceremony every second ofevery day. That it leaves a predictable and always unpredicted wake ofshock and shatter.
That ‘suddenly‘ is exact and that no adverb can ever be adequate for the effect of that suddenness.
So how will my funeral be? It will not be for me to say. but if I‘m lucky enough to reach it ‘quietly'. they can whistle Here We Go Round The
Mulberry Bush for all I care.
And just in case I’m not. it might reduce the mess and fury and fuss of a ‘sudden' departure an iota if] paid off the bills and tidied up the carryout cartons.
WearingThe Dress and listening to Verdi?
Why on earth not?
‘The person we had to meet was halfan hour late. so we were wanderingaround . . .and that‘s how we found it.‘ The knights errant were Mayfest director Bill Burdett-(‘outts and artist’sc,ul?torboatbuilder (ieorge Wyllie. in search ofa mooring for Wyllie's giant paper boat. The grail discovered in this serendipitous fashion was the Renfrew Ferry. the new social and cabaret centre for Mayfest. moored on (‘lydeside Quay.
The Ferry's owner. Ronnie Scott. was delighted.
Now. after refurbishment which has built on rather than altered the vessel‘s
Theatre addicts or Joyce junkies who have a spare 26 hours on their handson the weekend of Friday 28 and Saturday 2‘) might care to drop along to lidinburgh's Bedlam Theatre. where Joyce's ‘LIlysses‘. in all its glory. is being presented in aid of Friendsofthe liarth.
As protlucchohn Webster explains. they are going for the record with thisone. asthe longest single theatre piece ever presented. Fear not. though. as it'sdividcd into 17 chapters. each being handled by a different director. with a total cast of around 1 l3. and nobody has to sit through the whole thing if they don't want to— cxccpt for a few who are being sponsored to do so. of course.
Your guide to the n
essential atmosphere. Burdett-(‘outts is more than happy with the venue. 'lt feels vcr} 310ml indeed.‘ he says.
‘lt's very satisfying to see it.'says Scott. ‘I think it will be very successful. What's more important than the money May'fesl has brought in is the
At 10.35pm on'l'hursday 37 Scottish Television present the first edition of their new Scottish magazine programme NB. Brought to the airin association with Hie 1.1.31. .VB will be prey iewing and reviewing entertainments
enthusiasm to do it.‘
In future. the Ferry may be used for private functions and exhibitions: Scott reports that a number of people have expressed interest. In the meantime. the venture is certainly keeping its head above water. (Andrew Burnet)
and events happening in (‘entral Scotland. The
presenters. Bryan Burnett from the [ironing 'l‘inws. former Mayfest press officer .lanicc l-‘orsyth and cx-( it! editor Alan (‘ampbell will be covering as many branches ofthe arts as they cart in a weekly half-hour slot.
ext fourteen days starts here . . .
2The List 21 April — 4 May 198‘)