What’s wrong with Agadoo at the fu­neral?

Loughborough Echo - - MIKE LOCKLEY - Mike Lock­ley The lighter side of life with the Mid­lands colum­nist of the year

AN­OTHER day, an­other death in the fam­ily.

This time, it was an un­cle I didn’t re­ally know, but who earned the epi­taph “love­able rogue” in the lo­cal news­pa­per’s In Memo­riam col­umn.

I didn’t re­ally know him, but an­other death has placed my own mor­tal­ity into sharp fo­cus.

I have be­gun to pon­der my own fu­neral and have a chill­ing im­age of my wife telling the vicar: “He had 2,000 Facebook friends... I thought there’d be more here.”

Not many turned up for my 40th birth­day party. A sim­i­lar lack of in­ter­est in my fu­neral and I’d prob­a­bly die from em­bar­rass­ment.

I have only two wishes for that solemn ser­vice:

Will some­one please go dressed as the Grim Reaper. Don’t say any­thing, just stand there!

through a chronic short­age of loved ones, have been tasked with help­ing to clear my un­cle’s home and ar­range the ser­vice.

“It’s like we’re in­trud­ing,” said a friend as we ri­fled through the un­tidy bun­ga­low, haul­ing tat into tea chests. “It’s like we’re tres­pass­ing on some­thing pri­vate and very per­sonal.”

“You’ve found the stash of porn mags un­der the bed, then?” I asked.

“I’m fa­mil­iar with the verse you would like me to read,” said our trendy vicar, casting an eye on the script dur­ing a solemn meet­ing at the bun­ga­low to dis­cuss fu­neral ar­range­ments.

“While it is very much your day,” he stressed, lean­ing for­ward in dearly de­parted Un­cle Norman’s favourite chair, “I’m not en­tirely com­fort­able with it.”

“To me,” he con­tin­ued, his face wreathed with a be­nign smile, “there is noth­ing wrong with mourn­ing, with shed­ding tears for the loss of a loved one.

“Yet this text,” at this point he held the of­fend­ing verse aloft, “seems to send out a mes­sage that one should feel al­most guilty for grief; that this is a time for cel­e­bra­tion, even.”

The cleric clasped hands in front of his mouth in an al­most prayer-like mo­tion.

“It was Norman’s favourite,” stressed his widow, the tears welling in her eyes. “Es­pe­cially that verse.”

“That would be,” ques­tioned the vicar, run­ning his slim Parker pen along the stanza, “the one that starts, ‘Agadoo, doo, doo, push pineap­ple, shake the tree...?”

“Yes,” trem­bled Aun­tie Jean, the words bring­ing mem­o­ries of Mediter­ranean hol­i­days flood­ing back. “He knew all the moves.”

At that point, she burst into tears. The vicar sat in si­lence, the same be­nign smile on his face, un­til the sobs had sub­sided. “I know how dif­fi­cult it is,” he whis­pered, plac­ing a hand on the pen­sioner’s lap.

“It’s not re­ally,” I chipped in, “you just put your hands for­ward as if you’re push­ing a pineap­ple.”

“I’m talk­ing about be­reave­ment,” he snapped, for once let­ting that ir­ri­tat­ing smile slip from his face.

“I’m aware it was a work that gave Norman a great deal of joy,” our vicar, hav­ing re­gained his com­po­sure, con­tin­ued, “but I’m not en­tirely happy with recit­ing Agadoo by Black Lace from the pul­pit.”

“Or do­ing the ac­tions?” I asked hope­fully.

“Or do­ing the ac­tions,” he con­firmed.

“I have, how­ever, found some­thing by W.H. Au­den that you may feel ap­pro­pri­ate, that you may feel will pro­vide com­fort for those gath­ered dur­ing a dif­fi­cult oc­ca­sion,” he added.

I scanned the poem about doves and town hall clocks stop­ping and gur­gling brooks.

“Nah,” I told The Rev, thrust­ing the book­let back into his hand. “Un­cle Norm wouldn’t dance to that at a wed­ding re­cep­tion.”

“If he did,” I laughed ner­vously, “he’d be the only one.” The room fell silent. By way of a com­pro­mise, I sug­gested play­ing the Costa clas­sic as the cas­ket was brought into the church. Our vicar still wouldn’t budge.

“OK, what if the pall­bear­ers don’t do the dance?” I vol­un­teered by way of a fi­nal con­ces­sion.

The vicar de­cided it was time to move on from the thorny is­sue and asked for details of Norm’s life and loves that he could share with fam­ily and friends gath­ered on the black­est of black days.

“We-e-e-ell,” re­called Jean as his pen be­gan to glide across the page of his note­book, “he used to spend hours in that gar­den shed with his se­cret stash of booze, didn’t he, Mike?”

“And he ab­so­lutely loved his satel­lite TV adult chan­nel. His hear­ing may have gone, but there was noth­ing wrong with his eye­sight. Then there were the top shelf mag­a­zines. He could reach for those al­right.”

She laughed rau­cously. The vicar laughed ner­vously in a CofE show of sup­port.

“Apart from be­ing a se­cret drinker who liked pornog­ra­phy,” he smiled, scan­ning his scrib­bled notes, “is there any­thing else you’d like to share with the con­gre­ga­tion?

A land­mark in Norman’s life, per­haps? Some­thing you and your hus­band had in com­mon – a bond?”

Jean thought for a mo­ment. “All his hair fell out a year after mar­ry­ing me,” she blurted, “and we both hated raisins.”

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