Sunday October 25th 2020

THE LAST LAUGH – You are cordially invited to the unholy decomposition of…

We’re dying – all of us are, but some with a little more haste than others. We two who are writing this column have been given timelines which can be counted in months. Facing your own mortality raises several questions: how can I get one of those lovely Ghanaian coffin makers to fashion me one in the shape of a giant cock? What sort of contest can I organise for my friends to see who gets the playstation in my will? Does this mean I get a license to take medicinal marijuana? And – what will people remember us for? We hope that some of you, at least, will remember The Last Laugh.

For Dom and Lou

The Chinese have got it sussed – apparently sometimes they watch PORN at their funerals. “Quick, let’s all get over excited and go home and make a new person to replace the one we just lost.” Yes folks, we’re continuing our theme of how to end it all. This time: the send-off.

The best film funeral, in our opinion, was of course Princess Diana’s – oh no wait just a second…no, honestly, what can beat the titular funeral in Four Weddings and a? That’s the perfect send off, a little poetry, the right amount of holding back of tears, and the recognition by even that epitome of mainstream, Hugh Grant, that true love doesn’t always take the forms we blithely anticipate for it.

So while you’re sitting about waiting to die, which everyone seems to think is the only thing us terminal folks do, what better way to pass the time than plan your funeral? After all, it’s one of the biggest days of your life, why should all the fun and hilarity be reserved for the wedding? In fact Glee’s recent wedding episode got us thinking: what about a Glee funeral? A glance through the list of the most popular funeral songs holds some real crackers, like Eric Clapton and Guns n Roses, but also some more sadistic choices. Honestly, who hates their loved ones so much that they’d subject them to James Blunt after their death? Or Vera Lynn? And Bette Midler makes the top 20 TWICE. Perhaps you should take it as a hint, if two of your songs are voted into the ‘most likely to make everybody miserable’ list. So we’d have to Glee up our funeral a little differently. “Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air” might be a good start, and what about a little Queen – “who wants to live forever”, after all.

Once you’ve sorted out your playlist you could turn to the flowers, the catering, the all important choice of who presides at the event, and of course the, uh, going away outfit. And why stop at the ordinary? Another epic recent funeral favourite is having your ashes made into fireworks and really going out with a bang. And if you get the best firework makers on the job, perhaps they can get your remains to spell out something. You know, like “Boo!”, or “So long suckers” or possibly “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”.

But, again like weddings, all the grandest plans in the world can’t change the fact that if you had porn at YOUR funeral it wouldn’t be a sort of moving and cultural celebration of life, it would be an astonishing cruel game from beyond the grave where you choose to create a situation where a room full of people suddenly realise they’re all semi erect in the presence of virtually their entire family, including their sleazy uncle and their hot underage cousin and equally if not slightly hotter recently divorced cougar sort of third cousin type person, and having to stare at the most unattractive aunt of all to try and (de)rectify the situation. Yes, the one thing that will never go according to plan is your family.

And the other thing funeral planning fails to take into account is this: unlike your wedding day, you are NOT the chief role player at the funeral. This role is taken by your parents, perhaps, or your spouse, or your child. Possibly a best friend, occasionally a best friend whom everyone all of a sudden discovers is secretly your gay lover, perhaps even sometimes a colleague, if you died in the right kind of context like, perhaps, a war.

And just like all those desperate attempts through last words and epitaphs, what you cannot ever plan for or control is how people will mourn you. Or if they will. We all say we want to come to our own funerals, but if we’re honest, that’s just because we’re shit scared NO ONE would turn up. So we’re throwing out the seating plans, cancelling the gift registry and burning the order of service. Here’s what we want. We want you to dress in your most fabulous outfit. We want you to laugh at least as much as you cry. And we want you to say goodbye, then. And the funeral needn’t be in a church, or a hall, or even be a public thing. The funeral, lovelies, is for you. So now that that’s all sorted, we’re off to do a little more living while we still can.

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