We couldn’t get inside, so it wasn’t till later that I saw the elegant yet reassuringly rustic wickerwork coffin.
So many mourners, the church was full. Only close family allowed in.
I thought of waving my “Godmother to the youngest” badge, but decided on this warm sunny day that sitting outside was preferable anyway.
Large speakers boomed the two female vicars’s voices to the external congregation, but the singing – no doubt beautiful to hear within the cool stone walls – was distorted, and the offending speaker was turned round to face the wall in shame, though it’s crackling chorus was only slightly muffled.
Then Emily was sitting beside me. She wasn’t cross that I’d stayed drinking a glass of port to settle my stomach and missed getting a seat in the church to witness her funeral rites. She had not drunk alcohol for many years but had raced me pint of Guinness to her pint of CocaCola on more than one occasion, and as I grew dim with alcohol she had shone brighter with the caffein rush, if shining brighter were possible for a woman than shimmered as she moved. Even when she wasn’t wearing her belly-dance outfit.
What she was furious about, was the distortion of the speaker spoiling the effect of the performance to her self-invited guests.
“You’ve got an amp in your car. You could plug it in.” She whispered forcefully over the poems and recitations emanating from the church. She was right. I had to flee later for an event in London lugging a bloody great amp and miss the cake and socialising after the burial. Bummer.
When Emily was alive in the flesh, those few words would have had me leaping to my feet, dashing to the car, and trollying the amp down the church path to attempt a bypass for the offending speaker. I could just envisage Em with her swaying tassels in that sparkling belly dance outfit that made her even more beguiling than usual, storming up to the presiding vicar and demanding a halt be called to the proceedings. Like a curtain call at the beginning rather than at the end of the play, distracting the audience with an impromptu belly dance whilst urgently hissing over her shoulder mid-shimmy: ”Haven’t you plugged it in yet?”
She looked at me askance.
“No”, I repeated. I’m here to focus on you Emily. We are not here for the sound quality. Or the performance. We are all here because we love you.”
She softened her gaze. A little embarrassed – just for a moment. A little surprised.
There was a tiny sound of tassels clinking and tinkling softly as she shuddered a shimmy, slightly miffed.
She rose gently and glided back into the church, without a sound.
As the wickerwork coffin was laid in the earth, bagpipes played and a Gaelic ballad wafted across the mourners’ heads.
I could hear her grumbling as the earth was dropped upon the coffin: “They could have tossed a couple of Proust novels in here to keep me company.”
And then a tiny sound of tassels clinking and tinkling softly, as she shimmied her way into sleep.