Saturday, February 19, 2011

When I Am Brown Bread...

Kirk Douglas In The VikingsOne of my favourite bloggers, Löst Jimmy, recently wrote a blog post about honouring the funeral arrangements of a friend. A friend, I hasten to add, who isn't about to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon (at least I hope not anyway) but it got me thinking about that subject which we must all think about at some point in our lives but which we would much rather not think about at all if we can get away with it.

Our own funeral. The wake. The 19th hole. Our great launch off into the unknown. The elevator door closes and you wait to see if you're going up or going down.

I am minded that when my grandfather died a couple of years ago my entire family kicked itself for not having paid closer attention to the various requests he had made over the years for what hymns he had wanted sung and what music he wanted played on the day we all saw him off for the last time. In the end we did him proud but the thought always stuck in my mind: was this really how he wanted it?

It's made me realize that, whilst I certainly don't want to tempt fate by booking Westminster Abbey and a hemp weave eco-coffin right now, I would like you all to be prepared and fully instructed in what I require when the nation mourns my eventual passing in approximately 250 years from now ('cos we just know that our industrious scientists are right on the cusp of cracking the aging gene conundrum, don't we?)...

So. To business.

Whilst I wish the nation to have the chance to play its last respects at Westminster Abbey and whilst I appreciate the 8 billion strong signatures on the petition to have my glorious body interred in Poet's Corner I would actually like my final resting place to be somewhat more spiritual, esoterical and ecologically sound than a great gold lined stone coffin housed in one of London's most famous landmarks.

It is my wish that a fully working Viking long boat be constructed by authentic craftsmen from the Netherlands and sailed across the North Sea to this green isle ready for the day of my funeral. I wish to be dressed in the garb of a Viking clan chief, complete with sword, dagger and horned helmet (please ensure the horns are of a suitably eye-watering length and girth) and then laid to rest on a specially built pyre of sweet smelling woods arranged on the deck of the boat.

I will then be launched down the River Avon as each of you fire flaming arrows into the specially primed and oiled pyre (please note: charcoal briquettes are available quite cheaply from B&Q all year round). You might all want to enlist for archery lessons now - I don't want my funeral to become a blood bath, after all, this is my big day, not yours.

I wish to have a posse of chief mourners comprised of Keeley Hawes, Katie McGrath, Julia Bradbury, Alice Roberts, Kate Bush and Christina Ricci. All are to be dressed in black cocktail party attire - short skirts, high heels and perfumed décolletages, please ladies. Any bloggers out there wishing to join this troupe may do so provided you are suitably attired. My wife will of course be the queen mourner and will conduct you all in a rendition of "You were the wind beneath our wings..." provided, of course, she hasn't cashed in my Life Assurance Policy early and isn't holidaying at Brean Sands with the milkman.

Once my flaming bower is well aflame and has become a danger to shipping in the Bristol Channel you may ignite a smaller pyre beneath the freshly spitted hog killed for this especial purpose and you may all enjoy partaking of a suitably hot and spicy spit roast in honour of my good self. You may quaff wines that foam, substances which tittilate and read aloud from the many good works that I will undoubtedly have published by this time. The choicest extracts from my autobiography, "You Shall Not See My Like Again, Weep, Weep, Weep Ye May..." will be read by my sons whilst the pivotal moments of my life with be re-enacted by a Punch & Judy man recruited from Brighton Pier.

Long after my ashes have mingled with the mud flats at Weston-super-Mare you may then erect a permanent statue of me on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. Built entirely of Lego it will tower over the occupants of the other three plinths and act as a staunch reminder of my humble and modest greatness and will I hope offer you some small comfort in the pointless and dreary existence that life will undoubtedly have become now that I am no longer in this world with you.

Amen.

Have you all got that? Good. Feel free to bring some food to the party but none of that cheap crap from Lidl please. Donations to the Stephen Blake Benevolent Fund For Unrecognized Writers will be gratefully received and spent wisely (unlike the dubiously apportioned funds from WikiLeaks).

Until this great day then, folks... make the most of me. Just in case, you know, the scientists balls it all up...



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51 comments:

Fran said...

You don't want much, then. Look, you could save everyone a lot of trouble. There's a graveyard at the back of my garden wall - get the wife to bring your body round and we'll just lob you over and leave you to rot.

Steve said...

Fran: my wife says is it OK if I come wrapped in the living room carpet...?

Gorilla Bananas said...

Burning fossil fuel won't be allowed when you kick the bucket. Your fans will no doubt insist that you are stuffed and placed atop the town library to scare off people interested in literature. Do you want Alice Roberts to do the stuffing?

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: is the Pope a Nazi?

Owen said...

Too limited in vision Steve, frankly I'm disappointed.

At the very least your viking longboat should be of such a scale, like that of a super tanker, and with as much fuel on board, so that your flaming bier could circumnavigate the globe at least once, flames towering up to meet the stars all the while, making port calls in every country on earth with a seafront...

And what about live music ? Pink Floyd should reunite, Elton should get spruced up, Sir Paul, The Stones, The Kinks, Led Zep, Al Stewart, and many other British notables should all come down to put on at least a three day show non-stop to keep the energy up as we dance round the clock.

And drugs, Steve, drugs, you forgot the drugs, my goodness, we will be expecting simply mountains of exotic powders and vision enhancing liquid elixirs of all sorts.

On the food front... just one pig to roast ??? Will never do. We will need whole herds of wild boars and mammoths, not to mention articulated lorry loads full of fish & chips ! Can't have us going hungry while we see you off...

And maybe only part of you should go down the river on the super tanker size longboat ? I think part of you should be sent into orbit on a private rocket, launched from the Stonehenge plains... which part though ???

Oh, and really, the list of women you wish to have present seems fine, but far too short. By doing a Google image search for Beautiful British Women, it came back with 13,000,000 results... surely all of them should be invited to come, wearing skin tight leotards....

Well, Fran's suggestion is always another possibility too. Personally I think I'd just like my body dropped in the middle of the Sahara desert, to become the foundation for a new sand dune...

Steve said...

Owen: your application to be my funeral arranger has been duly accepted. I shall leave all in your capable hands - plainly you have the appropriate vision to see things carried off properly. One proviso though: I don't want Elton John anywhere near my body, alive or dead. I'll leave you to send out the invites to the leotard wearing women. I'd like them arranged alphabetically by nationality and ascending in bra size.

the fly in the web said...

What is it with men who imagine themselves surrounded...or if dead followed...by women whose names I suppose I should recognise while their wives are supposed to be content with 'the milkman'?

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I'll have the 'great gold lined stone coffin housed in one of London's most famous landmarks' if you don't want it Steve.

Great post, I'll do my utmost to respect your wishes.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: my wife says if you could see our milkman you'd realize there is no need for disparagement.

Steve said...

Laura: it's yours if you want it. Feel free to trim it to size and repoint it as you see fit.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

PS: I'll also have the groovy jester costume if you don't want it.

Steve said...

Laura: it'll need a good hosing down first but it's yours if you want it. I feel choked that you want something that has touched my body so intimately.

Either that or you are a secret Rentaghost fan.

Nana Go-Go said...

You`ll be at mine long before it`s your turn which I`m sorry I`m going to miss - sounds like some party! Apparently, I`m getting seen off from the nursing home my lads are putting me into then when my shuffling off time comes,shoved into a bio-degradable bin liner and buried in a big hole under a tree, deep in some local woodland, all to the strains of `Fat Bottomed Girls` by Queen.....or so they think!

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: they've put quite a bit of thought into this haven't they...? An unhealthy amount perhaps...?

Nana Go-Go said...

Also, forgot to say, I can hum the tune of `The Vikings`.....dooo dooo doo,dooo dooo doo,dooo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo dooooo....if required!Quite chuffed I`ve remembered it almost 50 years later!

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: can you record it as a podcast just in case you're not around for the big day...?

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

A simple man with simple tastes...

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: I have no idea who you're talking about.

Suzanne said...

Loving the idea of the LEGO monument - I'll be in charge of building that if that's OK?

Steve said...

Suzanne: if you ask nicely I'll let you have my inside leg measurement.

libby said...

Right...I'm deffo going to diet over Lent so that I can try a short black cocktail dress on as an early rehearsal.........

Steve said...

Libby: thank you. Your eagerness to participate in my funeral is... er... much appreciated.

Val said...

"hemp weave eco-coffin" I read that as 'hemp weave eco-muffin' and thought... that Steve, he gets worse and worse...

When of course, all the time, it's me getting worse and worse.

You do realise all those women you want at your funeral will probably be pushing eighty by then and won't be able to get into their sexy frocks 'cos their zimmer frames'll be getting in the way?

Phil said...

Don’t you think this is all a bit whimsical Steve, and I mean the geography part.

Cos when you finally pop your blogs in 250 years time, there won’t be any River Avon anymore, the Bristol Channel will by then be known as the Bristol Ocean, central Wales will have become the new Hawaii of the north and Leamington Spa will be little more than ‘a wash’.

But hey ho, at least you’ll be able to download your own custom designed ‘virtual wake’ with all the dramatic digital trimmings for everyone to shed a tear over on their ‘Z-Pads’.

I think when Thor’s big hammer finally bangs down on my bongo’s, I’ll just press ‘End Programme’ and have my blogga icon cut and pasted to the family’s ‘back up device’.

And then pray that no one ‘re-boots me’ later.

P.S. Are really sure you'll still want all those lovely girlies wheeled out to mourn you? I mean 250 years of face lifts and botox Steve. Think about it. Dead or not...you'll probably scare them all to death.

Marginalia said...

Shame you won't be able to smell that hog roasting nicely.But then you're off bacon aren't you.

libby said...

Oh Steve...don't misunderstand! I just have no life and you tempted me with music and colour and spectacle!! and I did say early rehearsal.....live long and prosper!

Steve said...

Val: ah to be buried in a hemp weave eco muffin... that would truly be a great way to go. Good point regarding the ages of my mourners... hence my crack about scientists cracking the aging gene. Let's keep 'em young and beautiful. At least until after my wake.

Phil: the women may be more plastic than flesh by then, I admit, but I quite fancy being attended on by a bionic Keeley Hawes. Your predictions about global flooding might be true but that just means shipbuilders will be more widely available and hopefully a little cheaper making my long boat dream all the more achievable.

Marginalia: I am indeed off bacon but I wouldn't dream of denying it to my brethren. Plus the smell of bacon will mask the smell of beef as I go up with a blue flame.

Libby: that's nice to know. I shall make sure you have frontrow so you cop a good eyeful of the fireworks and shenanigans.

Kelloggsville said...

It all sounds like great fun. Can you arrange for it to happen sooner rather than later? I've not had the opportunity to wear my little black dress in ages. I've been practising my arrow aim all day and hubby is only bleeding slightly profusely :0)

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: you're plainly working to a tight schedule. I'll see what I can do.

Wylye Girl said...

I did a field archery weekend once - you know, where you run around firing off arrows at polystyrene badgers and deer. Can I be Chief Archer please? Please? If you can just arrange for a cardboard cutout of an otter (or Stephen Hester for that matter) to be attached to your pyre I'm sure my aim will be true.... oh, and I'll need a left handed bow because I'm shite with a right-handed one. Deal?

Simpsonslover said...

Kellogsville, you and me both. Steve please don't let this detox I'm doing go to waste, I'm suddenly able to fit into everything and I don't know how long it's going to last and your dress code is quite strict and formal. There's a pal.

Steve said...

Wylye Girl: I invite you to my funeral extravaganza and you demand a cardboard otter?! What kind of gig do you think this is?!

Simpsonslover: I had no idea my continued existence was so inconvenient to quite so many people. It'll give my remaining years quite a bit of zing.

Simpsonslover said...

Geez, that Simpsonslover is so callous.... And damned annoying (STUPID old log-ins doing as they please).

I want you to hang around til at least after I go please, Steve. Whose blog would entertain me as much as yours if you were set to sea in a viking boat? So all these grand arrangements will just have to remain under official lock and key, I'm afraid. Although, I wouldn't mind being on the team getting stuck into that Lego monument. Awesome idea, bring some colour to the city too, eh?

Steve said...

Simponslover: it's you again, isn't it? I didn't suss it the first time but I have now. You can build my Lego statue with pleasure. Make it big, make i proud and make it multicoloured.

London City Mum said...

Nothing too OTT then, that's good.
For a moment I thought you had given in to megalomania.

How silly of me.

LCM x

Steve said...

LCM: I find megalomania so amateurish...

Löst Jimmy said...

Now that's what I call a do, I'd do my best to attend - to mourn your passing and to assist the mourning troupe of ladies naturally

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: I have you down as mourner's assistant. I can now rest easy knowing they'll all be in good hands.

The Sagittarian said...

The Stud and I actually own a spit roast machine so happy to chip in with it, we have our own Avon river here so we could organise the Southern hemisphere Steve Blake memorial bash? I can see it now...Spit Upon Avon in Memory of Steve Blake (or something like that...) and I have a plastic Viking Helmet left over from the girls night out, I knew it would get used again!!

The Sagittarian said...

Actually, I think you should have Heston Blumenthal as your chief caterer up there (we can manage fine down here, seen his Telly show...) and I'm sure he will have some fabulous conCOCKtion for your erstwhile mourners.

Steve said...

Amanda: thank you for your offer of a spit roast - that made me smile - and the plastic Viking helmet would be a good back-up should a real one be unavailable. As for Heston... hmm... not sure that snail yoghurt and holly leaf & badger toe souffle will really go with roast hog...

Phil said...

Mmmmm yummy…’holly leaf & badger toe soufflé’. The good old reliable ones are the best. Proppa grub of the earth, that. Nothing like the taste of a bit of sous-vide’d badger toe to liven up your foie gras burgers and oven baked beaks is there. Soul food.

Takes me back to my childhood. Mother always kept a few bags of badger toes in the freezer, in case our cooks didn’t have time to cook us something more substantial.

Never took you for a meat and two veg type Steve? Always thought you’d be one of those ‘fancy food’ goremays.

I’m a good old fashioned plume of feathers smoked chicken nuggets man me. And if they’re not served boiled, in Krug, I get really stroppy.

See…I can be ignorant when I really want to be can't I.

Steve said...

Phil: to be honest I'm at my happiest when I'm up to my back-teeth in a nice roast chicken with all the trimming or egg, chips and beans. Loads of ketchup and fatty bread on the side... lovely. I only go for the gourmet stuff when I'm shagging Royalty.

Phil said...

Ha Ha Ha! Know the feeling well. Whot us social toy boy’s have to do to keep up the pretences eh.

And I still cherish fondly childhood memories of running away to visit one of my old Nanny’s on the Mecca side of London – sitting up that side alley, outside her brothel, eating great big slabs of du pain blanc smothered in piles of salty beef dripping. Then we’d go and help ourselves to bottles of chocolate milk off the back of the milkman’s horse and cart, to wash it all down with. Mmmmmm…

Sheer Bliss.

Steve said...

Phil: are you sure that chocolate milk was chocolate milk? Did it taste a bit nutty? Just sayin'...! ;-)

Mark said...

All those mourners in short skirts - won't they be bit old by then? Assuming that is you live to the allotted three score and ten.

Maybe by then you wont care - actually , you won't will you?

Steve said...

Mark: I won't. Not a damn. Let them eat botox.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this nice post 111213

Steve said...

Anonymous: I think there might be a mistake with your binary.

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

I think my "happy coat" may well get an airing at a funeral after all. Thank you, dear friend. Do I need to RSVP?

Steve said...

Trish: nope; your name is already on the list. ;-)