Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saints' Day

Graveyard in St Michael's Church
Graveyard in St Michael's Church, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It is All Saints Day today, a public holiday in many Catholic countries, when families will go and visit or have a picnic with their dead ancestors in the cemetery. This could be quite charming were it not for the fact that many cemeteries in countries like Italy and Spain are grey stoney places, with one’s relatives lying in vaults inside a large concrete wall. Not a nice grassy churchyard under the trees as you might expect to find in England. However, I suspect that although this is the way we think of our cemeteries in England, this is not exactly the reality, where one is probably more likely to be buried in a council-maintained site out of town, next to a dull crematorium.

I have no particular idea about whether I would like my body to be buried or cremated when I die. I know that all my grandparents, great uncles and great aunties have all been cremated, so it sort of makes sense to be cremated as well. However, I have always appreciated more a burial and most of the people I have known who have died in Holland have been buried. There is something extremely touching about gathering around the grave and saying goodbye to someone as their body is lowered below the ground and then to throw some soil onto the coffin.

If I would get buried I would not really want to be buried in a large wooden coffin, with metal grips and handles. The Muslim tradition of being buried in white sheets makes more appeal. Marc Almond refers to white satin, in When I Was A Young Man, a haunting folk funeral song – ‘he was all dressed in white satin’ he sings. Satin or cotton, I am not too bothered, but white is good.

I suppose one of the difficult issues of being buried is choosing one’s final resting place. At least when one is cremated, one’s ashes can be thrown to the wind, maybe in a wood, on top of a hill or mountain or on the beach, while the wind catches all the ash and spreads it around. In terms of a burial, one’s remains are going to stick around a long long time in the same place. I’d like to think of being laid to rest in some dark moist soil, full of worms and other such creatures, turning into compost and pushing up the daisies. I suppose the only other thing to be said here is that I’d like to be next to Fred, having spent most of my life with him (this event will be in five weeks time on 5th December – Sinterklaas, when I will be 46 years and 170 days, by which time I will have known Fred 23 years and 85 days)…

Anyway, I am not planning on going anywhere at the moment… just going home in the train from the office to Amsterdam. I spent last night in Paris, having finished work too late to catch the last train back to Amsterdam and checking into the Hotel de Milan near Gare du Nord. I was offered a room for € 40 without a shower and € 62 with a shower (including breakfast). I chose the latter which turned out to be a waste of money as I turned over for a couple of minutes after the alarm went off and woke up again with just seven minutes to catch my train…. so it was a whore’s wash (a splash of cold water under my arms) and a quick exit past the breakfast tables and a short run to platform 8 of Gare du Nord, just in time to catch a train which ended up being delayed by 20 minutes! Oh well!

At least, my half day in Paris in the office was fairly peaceful, my boss joining me there, putting them on their best behaviour. However, during the day we were given three reports to read about the state of the financial control in the two companies we have in France, meaning that I will probably have to spend even more time down there.

But for now, I can look forward to a nice evening at home with Fred, watching an hour-long episode of Eastenders where ginger-head Bradley is due to marry his seemingly ill-suited wife, the head-strong Stacey. How wrong is this going to turn out? Either it goes wrong and they don’t get married or they do get married and it goes wrong afterwards, the point being is that Stacey has been having a sexual affair with Bradley’s father, the slimey Max. Hmmmm….. And before that.... It Takes Two - the latest update on Strictly Come Dancing. I am rooting for Alesha, but I think Kelly might win.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I would like to be cremated, but I would like a coffin made of wicker from the Somerset Levels and my ashes put in a little wicker box, then scattered on the top of a hill!!

01 November, 2007 18:39  

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