What’s wrong with Agadoo at the funeral?
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.”