Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 26 April 2015


My First Funeral

My Father's hand was ice
and his stance militarily rigid.
Somehow that seemed appropriate.

A tear clung to an eye
but there was nothing there
to hold on to and it fell.
Somehow lapses in character
like this became acceptable.

The priest wore an ancient expression
and held a trilby.
That did not seem so right.

Looking round I kept coming on the same face
like a cliché‚ or an awkward question.

27 January 1980

This is a complete fabrication. I only remember that there was a first funeral and I would’ve been about nine (so circa 1968). I remember who it was and he wasn’t a Catholic so there was no priest. My dad, however, did wear trilbies all his life. I still have one which sits atop a bookcase in my office. I wore it the day I returned home following his own funeral even though it’s a little small for me but I’ve never tried it on strilbyince nor bought one of my own. I’ve always loved the shape of a trilby but regarded it as an old man’s hat and I kept waiting on getting old enough to be able to carry one off. Not quite there yet I’m afraid.

My wife was always trying to get me to buy new hats. I say “was” because she’s pretty much admitted defeat. When we visited Sacramento Carrie tried to talk me into buying a Stetson and when we were in Oban she encouraged me to buy a waxed stockman’s riding coat with appropriate headwear and when we went to Lomond Shores she was at me to buy what she describes as a “Terry Pratchett hat” (so that would be a wide-brimmed fedora) which I apparently swithered over for some time (I have no memory of the event) before coming away with a rather nondescript and safe flat cap. Oh, and there was also the time down Dowanside Lane in the west end of Glasgow in Starry Starry Night, a vintage clothing store, where we found two bowlers but neither was my size. Even so I seriously considered buying one or both just to hang on my hat stand. Well, I would’ve had to buy a hat stand too,


Kikka N said...

"There is a place in every heart,
They call it Memory Lane,
Where thoughts of loved ones lost
Forever will remain"

Touching memories.

Jim Murdoch said...

I know the heart is a muscle, Kikka, but I’m not sure when they coined the expression ‘muscle memory’ they were thinking about this. The heart certainly feels but does it remember? And surely if any organ other than our brains remembered it would be the kidneys, two or our most inaccessible (and therefore most protected) organs. I’m just thinking out loud here. I’m sure you just thought it was a nice sentiment. Damn us poets, we pull everything to pieces. Interesting article here. Just what I needed this morning prior to starting writing to get my brain in gear.

Kikka N said...

Hi Jim!
... yes heart is a muscle... ;)
Your photo of the hat reminded me of the hat my father used to have. He had it grey, the type was the same.
Thanks for the link!

Jim Murdoch said...

I didn’t spend a huge amount of times looking for photos of hats, Kikki, but this one jumped out. My dad had several trilbies and the one I would’ve liked was his everyday one but what happened was my mum packed up all his clothes and had my sister take them to a charity shop; my mother was addicted (not too strong a word) to charity shops and she saw this as her way of saying thank you. I was only out of the house for a couple of hours. But she missed one of Dad’s good hats and so that’s the one I ended up with. It’s also more grey than brown.

Kass said...

"A tear clung to an eye, but there was nothing there to hold on to and it fell." - such a good line.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Kass. Yes, it does hold up well. That said I wonder if I should've said 'let go' rather than simply 'fell' but I'm not going back to change it now; 'fell' works just fine.

Gwil W said...

The poem is a most fine piece of work, Jim. I wish I'd written it myself.

Jim Murdoch said...

Gwilliam, you flatter me. I am suitably flattered.

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