Initially, some thought was given as to who best to do this next bit. Then we realised
that pretty soon we’ll all be 6ft under, pushing up daisies anyway. In the vast scheme
of things it’s of very little consequence, so we might as well let the idiot that
wrote it, read it out... And it goes something like this:
Yeah, and? I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? To be perfectly honest it’s living
I tend to struggle with. Death sounds like a novelty - a bit of a break from the
daily routine. Does that sound a bit flippant? If it does, then fine... make yourselves
feel comfortable by hiding behind your conviction that I don’t really mean it.
But plenty of folk do mean it... have the courage to say, that’s it, I’m done, that’s
my lot, I’m off, see ya...
I expect even more of us would like to have a little sneaky peak at what it might
be like. Wonder how the world’ll get by when we’re gone. Do the whole Tom Sawyer
/ Huckleberry Finn thing... turn up at your own funeral. C’mon, you’re just a wee
bit curious aren’t you? Would it be a good turn out? Would that guy or girl from
Accounts that you’d always secretly fancied but never had the nerve to do anything
about shed a tear for you? And besides, you wouldn’t want to miss a good party.
In other cultures death is celebrated. So where did we screw up? It’s a festival.
It’s the next stage for our soul – assuming you didn’t sell that long ago to some
silver tongued fella with a preference for holidaying in hotter climates... You
must’ve seen him: kinda red faced, little pencil moustache, never at a loss for cutlery
when buying that lunchtime take away salad – always uses his own forked tail...
And believe you me, in showbiz there’s no shortage of folk ready to sacrifice something
as expendable as a soul in order to secure that next big break. Still, at least I
got a receipt.
What is there to fear from Death? Well, dying I s’pose... that could be a bit uncomfortable
– a long, drawn out process, but then in truth we’ve all been on borrowed time from
the moment we first popped out into this world. It’s the add-ons that scare us: the
thought of dying in pain, of dying alone. Death itself – is a mere fleeting moment.
Unless of course you have chosen to work in the entertainment profession where dying
on a regular basis is regarded as something of an occupational hazard. I’ve died
on stage countless times. (You kinda get used to it after a while.)
The only reason you would have something to fear from Death, is if you haven’t lived.
And even in that there’s a kind of irony – a life not truly lived is, in itself,
a kind of waking Death. Carpe Diem - seize the day – we all know that one. But if
that’s not a big enough kick up the backside, try the next line: “quam minimum credula
postero” - put no trust in tomorrow. So... just get on with it eh? Enjoy each sweet
moment as it rolls along. Life we are told is NOT a rehearsal. Though I suspect everyone
on this stage has, at one time or another, done gigs where it might have been beneficial
if perhaps just a little more of it had been. Don’t squander your time thinking about
your fate – it’s not as if you have to clear a space in your diary for it – it’ll
pretty much take care of itself, and when it’s ready, dropping the kids off at school,
going to the dentist or catching up on the omnibus edition of eastenders is gonna
have to take a bit of a back seat.
So that, boys and girls, is my answer and my plea. Take it from one who’s had more
than his fair share of hours as one of the lost, waking dead: Seize it, grab it,
love it, live it. Don’t let it slip through your fingers like so many grains of sand...
And you’ll have nothing to fear.
D’you remember when you were a kid - with the weight of the world and your unwritten
future upon your young shoulders? A kindly adult might seek to reassure you with
“Smile – it might never happen.” Well, I hate to break it to you but Death is pretty
much inevitable, a cert, nailed on, a sure thing. Still, we’re all grown-ups here,
so perhaps I might venture a finer sentiment:
Smile – it’ll happen anyway.