I went to a stranger's funeral yesterday. When I say "stranger", I mean I didn't know the dead person. She was, however, a very dear frienmd's sister. If funerals can be described excellent, this one was. The woman's son had decorated the casket brilliantly. He'd painted it sky blue, then stuck photographs, rainbows, ansd flowers on it. It was cheerful, and apparently quite apt. People spoke well, and touchingly. My friend stoood up, and spoke eloquently about his sister. His opening words were about the evils of smoking: he's now lost four familymembers to smoking-related diseases. I applaud him for speaking his mind.
As the funeral progresssed, there was laughter and, of course, tears. It occurred to me, as I saw people comforting their wives, husbands, and children, that we humans are a remarkable species. I felt quite proud to be an intelligent ape.
Death and funerals are something we must all face, and I've put in a little thought as to what I want at my funeral. People,of course, would be nice. That can't be guaranteed, but I'd like to think that Jenny won't be alone as she's parking my carcase somewhere.
The big thing is this: if anyone so much as considers thinking about mentioning the possibility of an afterlife, God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or any of the pantheon of gods, I'll come back and haunt them. I will put up with mention of Offler, the Crocodile God, because that at least will show the person has a sense of humour, and has read Terry Pratchett.
What else has happened? Well, I took every chance available to screw up Act One, Scene Seven at rehearsals the other night. It's funny how you can know all your words, motivations, movements, and so on - and then blow it. At least it's happened now: I always do it, and I was starting to worry that it would happen during a performance rather than rehearsal.
I have my euphonium. It's big. And I can make moises with it. How people play these things while marching, I don't know - but the audiuence will at think that I not only do it, but do it well. Such is the blessing of having very competent people around you.
The first performance is less than four weeks away: there's still a lot we have to get right, but I am confident we'll get there. Our director is excellent, and it's a beautifully crafted play.
READING: Andrea Camelleri, "The Patience of the Spider". Jenny's recommendation. It's... not quite doing it for me yet, but I'll carry on with it. I think the lack of grippingness may be more the fault of the translator than the author.. or it could simply be me, of course.
LISTENING TO: Tracey Chapman, "Telling Stories". Sublime.
This week's PAPER HEROES:
I care nothing for this Greek thing, this democracy. Pah! I spit on it!"
“But, Hanno,” the woman continued, smiling, “your life was spent helping the helpless. You cannot deny it: it is what you were. What you are, now that we have brought you back. And what we are is what you have made us.”
“Helpless?” Prester’s voice crackled. “You bring people back from the dead, people from different times and ages and mysteries, and you are helpless?”
“Yes. We can do marvellous things, but we can no longer wage war. Our laws forbid it. Our bodies forbid it. We have not warred in centuries. We do not know how.” Cienwyn’s hair was flying, flaring about her face, betraying the depth of her emotion. Charles gripped her wrist in warning, and she struggled to bring her hair under control.
Hanno looked at her, spat “Sorceress!” and strode to the weapons table where he picked up a complicated harness that had three scabbards hanging from it, and donned it in a well-practiced movement. One of the sheaths hung straight down his back, and he picked up a neat, straight, silver-hilted sword and slipped it home. The other two sheaths hung at his left. In one he housed a long dagger, just under two feet long. In the other he put his great sword, a two-handed weapon with sharkskin on the hilt, a ruby at the pommel, and a lightly curved broad blade that was over a yard long. The blade had a deep blood gutter, and was engraved and chased with elegant designs and runes.
He drew the sword free, the steel scraping at the throat of the scabbard. He held it aloft, and drew a circle in the air. He spoke, gutturally. “These tables. Bring more. Arrange them in a circle. We have some talking to do.”
Blunt’s grin was wolf-like. These people weren’t going to find their warriors as easy to handle and control as they had thought.
The tables rose from the floor, in the circle Hanno wanted. “Sit!” Hanno commanded.
“Say please,” said the small Texan, his eyes dead pebbles.
“Sit! Damn your eyes!” The huge barbarian was in a rage. He picked up a chair, and flung it against the wall, where it shattered. “Damn you, little man, and damn these worms who have brought us here!”
Grey unbuckled his gun belt, and strode over to the Cimmerian. “I may sit when you ask, big man. And for gosh sake, settle down.”
“Damn you for a puppy,” came the reply. The giant stooped and thrust his face up to the Texan’s. Grey stood still for three heartbeats. A hand-span separated the two men. Grey’s head was bent back, his eyes looking deep into the Cimmerian’s. Faster than a striking snake, Grey’s hand flashed up, grabbed the big man’s long yellow moustaches, and yanked. At the same time the smaller man barrelled his own head forward, smashing the bigger man’s nose with his forehead. Cienwyn screamed, Adam vomited, Paulus fainted, and Charles’ face paled, and he staggered, and leaned on the table for support.
“Crom!” roared the big man, rearing back – in time to receive Grey’s hard-driven right fist in his groin. The giant fell, keening in pain, and Grey slammed his boot-heel into the giant’s throat. “Ask politely, you big ox, or these people may well have to revive you again.” His voice was as cold as an Arctic breeze.