Normally, when the hearse arrives at the church or crematorium everyone gathered is sombre or even tearful. This time, we all laughed with delight.
This is the coffin of the former editor of Prediction magazine, Jo Logan who, when she died, made sure that her reputation as a mad cat lady went with her to the crematorium.
Jo bred Tonkinese cats so what better way to say goodbye to her than with a purple coffin covered with cats... It made all those who had come to her funeral smile, laugh and (with the family's permission) take photographs.
Which is as good a way as any of addressing the question of which is the scariest: doing stand-up comedy or being the person who walks in front of the coffin at the start of a funeral?
When people ask me how I can dare do stand-up comedy - on the grounds that it must be terrifying to risk humiliation in front of a crowd of people - I always say that it's nothing, nothing, nothing like as frightening as leading a funeral.
For a start, nobody's going to cry if you get their name wrong at a comedy gig; nobody's going to have a fight with the ex-widow/current widow over who sits where; nobody's going to give a heartfelt eulogy lasting 20 minutes so you're in danger of over-running on time (a cardinal sin for funeral ministers as it's deeply disrespectful to the next group of mourners); nobody's going to set fire to the curtains with an ill-placed tea light; nobody's going to jump into the grave with the coffin; and, as a general rule, nobody's actually dead.
All of the above have happened to me in the last fifteen years. In addition, I've been asked to wear pink fairy wings to facilitate a pink angel funeral where the deceased's daughter sprayed the crematorium with so much aromatherapy scent that I had to stay behind to apologise to the staff and the clergy and mourners attending the next three funerals. Worse, I've been groped by the deceased's husband and actually been asked not to allow the coffin into the cremator until I had personally checked that the person was in it truly was dead.
In that particular case, the deceased had been Schizophrenic, had often told his sister that the CIA were after him and said that if she heard he was dead she was not to believe it.
Understandable that she would want to check and she'd just arrived from abroad so she hadn't been able to go and see his body at the funeral director's.
However, still a tad tricky...
I went downstairs to the cremator area after the service and made the request (you have to do what the family ask, especially if they are afraid). The man in charge looked at me long and hard and said, 'firstly, it's illegal to open the coffin and secondly, he's been screwed into an airtight box for three hours. If he wasn't dead before, he is now.'
I lied to the lady, telling her that I had looked. It seemed the kinder response.
So, trust me, doing stand-up comedy is a piece of friggin' cake in comparison. And even on the nights when I die a death on stage I can still come off and comfort myself that this time I'm only the stiff and not the person who's got to pick up the pieces.
Here's another picture of Jo Logan's coffin, for absolutely no reason whatsoever except that it may make you smile. And what better reason is there?
Images blogger's own