There comes a moment in a chap’s life when his thoughts turn to his funeral. He doesn’t have to be particularly old – in fact, the truly ancient probably try to think of anything but their last hurrah – but, having attended a few funerals of friends and relations, he has begins to wonder in idle moments how his own will pan out
Will there be a respectable turn-out? Will the quality of the congregation be up to snuff? Too often, funerals are cluttered up by the sort of compassion junkies and drama queens who get a small ghoulish thrill out of the grief of others. Would it be unseemly to leave a last wish banning the insincere from one’s last gig?
As for the event itself, there are tricky question of taste to consider. A Christian service for a non-believer adds a touch of bogusness at the very moment when it is least welcome. Secular efforts tend either to be leaden and bathetic or fey and hippyish.
Who to give the address? Another nightmare. The kind of person who pushes himself forward on these occasions (‘Trust me, I know how to do these things’) is likely to provide an irritating parody of one’s life – more raffish, dutiful, silly, sane, ordered, shambolic, sexy, sexless, successful or disappointing than the real thing.
As for the music, where does one start? Recognising the fact that choosing funeral tunes is, like preparing for Desert Island Discs, a lifetime’s work, a website called My Last Song now invites people to have an early stab at it, listing five songs by which they would like to be remembered.
Of course, the list changes every week. Contributing my own list recently to My Last Song, I was startled to find that there was no place for Ry Cooder, Willie Nelson or Doc Watson. I also wanted to include Victoria Hart’s astonishing version of my song ‘It’s Only Love’, only to be warned off on grounds of egotism .
And who wants to be thought self-centred at their own funeral?