Thursday, 23 September 2010

Death in the Afternoon . . . with Tea and Cakes !

Good Afternoon, it's just after four, would you like some tea?

I don't normally seem to be here at my desk on Thursday afternoons, though I can't think why; I suppose I sometimes am indulging in a spot of retail therapy or  slumped amid the crumbs and wreckage of yet another Scicilian Lemon Cheesecake in Nero with sister Cate . . . however, today finds me relatively free and with just enough time to write today's sermon before the events of the evening unfold . . .

I'm off to the Museum of Wigan Life which, this evening, is hosting a talk on the Victorian Way of Death; I know I briefly mentioned this the other day, but it is something that fascinates me.  
Quite simply, we no longer consider death as a part of life anymore; when someone dies the experts step in and the entire process  becomes "professionalised"; we  rarely have any "hands on" involvement with the body and, at the most, will probably visit the chapel of rest to view it once all the cleaning, preparing and what not have been completed.  Death has been taken out of our hands and also out of our lives and so, when it does occur, it has even more of an impact than it used to have back in the days of previous generations.

Quite a few of the people I deal with in bereavement counselling suffer from what is termed "complicated grief" and probably one of the most common causes of this is when a child or young person dies before their parents.  It was not always so; in my own family my father was the oldest of 11 children, 4 of whom died before the age of 3 and one who died aged 18. 

More often than not the bodies were laid out in the "parlour" as opposed to the "living" room and sometimes, especially with children in the more wealthy families, were photographed with the surviving siblings as you can see in this typical Victorian family grouping.  I suppose to our sensibilities this can seem a little gruesome or ghoulish but it was, I suppose, one way of remembering the child and allowing it still to have a place in the family.

Anyhow, that's were I shall be this evening;  I do hope this hasn't upset or disturbed any of you, dearest readers,  if it has I assure you it was done inadvertently. 

So what else is happening? Well, as tomorrow is Friday I'm off to Bury again to see my clients and then home in the gloaming for food with Dr T.  I think this week I shall prepare some of my famous vegetable pasties with cheese pastry before I go and then we can binge upon my return.

The back is still playing up and causing me to wince and twitch as though I'm dancing the Watusi ~ what? you don't remember that? Ah me, what callow youths and youthesses I have for an audience; gather round children and feast upon my words of wisdom . . .

 It was a popular dance in the '60's ; In the classic Watusi, the dancer is almost stationary with knees slightly bent, although may advance forward and back by one or two small rhythmic paces. The arms, with palms flat in line, are held almost straight, alternately flail up and down in the vertical. The head is kept in line with the upper torso but may bob slightly to accentuate the arm flailing. The dance, which became popular in the American surf/beach sub-culture of 1960s, may be enhanced if one imagines that one's feet are on sand
I should point out that the above description is purloined entirely from Wikipedia ( that great repository of all that is good, great and wildly inaccurate!) and that, personally, the only experience I have of the dance is from a reference made to it in "Hunting Tigers" by the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band  ~ there goes my street cred don't you think?

And then the weekend is upon us once again . . . I wonder what the weather holds in store for us?  My journey home last night was made all the more pleasant by me mistaking a nice afternoon for a similar evening.  By the time I returned from the train I was soaked to the skin as, believe it or not, t shirts are not waterproof! I suppose I really should have listened to the weather forecast . . .and into my head pops another little fact I gleaned from  "Therapy" by David Lodge, the book I was reading the other day . . .

I am a great fan of the shipping forecast on Radio 4 and love to listen to the mantra of the names; Viking, Biscay, Fisher, Shannon,North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth and so on . . .  one of the names Finisterre (now changed to Fitzroy in honour of the founder of the Met Office) is mentioned in the David Lodge book  and is the finishing point for pilgrims on the Way of St James in Galicia, Spain.  However, what  I didn't twig is that its name actually means End of the World (Finis Terre)  ~ How wonderful is that?  You can imagine the ancients looking out at the Mare Tenebrosum or Dark Sea and imagining that this was literally the last place on Earth!

And now I see my wanderings and wonderings have lead me here to the end of time - well, at least for today!  I must put this blog to bed and away to the Museum . . .


'til next time

Be Seeing You !




1 comment:

  1. Mayhap a brolly will keep you dry this evening, otherwise, being psychic, I foretell another soaking wet t shirt !

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