I’m writing this on Wednesday, hence when I say ‘yesterday,’ I mean Tuesday. And yesterday was the day for the funeral of Mr Whippy, my tame bank robber.
It was a properly funereal day; cold, grey, misty, damp. My friend Kev supplied to wheels to get to the crematorium, and we travelled there shrouded in deepening gloom, and accompanied by an eerie if appropriate keening sound from the wind in the roofrack. I’ve never been to a funeral where the people departing the last one have lost during the service the ability to figure out how a carpark works, and so it proved yesterday.
There was already a pretty substantial crowd, as we’d predicted. There were some notable absences, including the other Kev, who’d been forbidden to show his face, and another couple who definitely fall into the Major Irritant category. Good.
Dress code was relaxed, since as Mrs Whippy had said to me a couple of days earlier, ‘When did you ever see Sam wear a suit or tie?’ The exceptions to the rule were several what you might call ‘tasty geezers,’ whom I assumed were some of Sam’s gangster friends. Dress code for this bunch of stocky, useful looking guys was black wool, double-breasted overcoats, and a vaguely unsettling demeanour. They stood slightly apart from the proles, and didn’t speak.
By the way, Kev and I decided that we were in probably the safest and least theft prone places for miles around. You don’t go for wallets or car theft when you’re used to robbing banks, and you never steal off your own.
I’m not sure what you call the person who officiates at a secular funeral, but she was good. Having said that, she did raise a few eyebrows and prompted mass mouthing of the word, ‘What?’ when she said that for much of his working life, Sam had been a publican. It’s partly true, but even when he was flogging pints that was largely a front operation. There were several stories from his past that made us smile and laugh (always a good sign at a funeral), and a very touching eulogy from his grand daughter, and another from one of his longest standing friends in the town he moved to from London.
Then it was all over, or so we thought. For one thing, the music that was played as we filed past the coffin was, typically for Sam and his family, Bankrobber by The Clash. That had us grinning. As did the sight on the plinth, next to the coffin, of a bottle of red wine, a tenner, a betting slip, and a pen.
We all got a pressie too. Beermats with a photo of Sam on the obverse, and the words, ‘Have a drink on me’ on the reverse. Nice touch.
PS To some people’s mild discomfort they found out the meaning of ‘S&B Transport,’ a dodgy haulage company Sam set up. They had assumed it meant ‘Sam and Brushy.’ Brushy was his nickname. It actually meant, ‘Shit and bust.’
PPS. Lots of people on Wednesday feeling not very well after the thrash up in Whippy’s local, The Kicking Dickey. Self inflicted injury, I’m afraid.