It’s been a while from my last update, a couple of weeks in fact, and stuff has happened. (I’m tempted to leave it at that, but that would be a pretty short entry, wouldn’t it?).
We gave my wee Gran a good send off. My sister came up from Portsmouth with her family, and cousins and second cousins and collateral ascendants and descendants I never knew I had appeared too.
The funeral was at Saint Mungo’s chapel in Townhead, which stands like an island in an inland sea of modern buildings. The slum tenements which surrounded it have been swept away, replaced by more modern slums which are in turn being replaced by student accommodation, light industrial workshops, car showrooms, and the motorway that cuts through the old neighbourhood, carrying traffic and life through it and only dumping the heaviest of silts in the old backwater.
There are three buildings which survive: the Chapel, Martyr’s School across the road (designed in part by Charles Rennie Mackintosh) and on the other side of the Motorway feeder roads the old Royal Infirmary, three wings of dark, dark stone. Behind that, and beside it, are Glasgow Cathedral, and behind that the vast City Of The Dead, Glasgow Necropolis, shrouding the hills that lead down into Dennistoun.
Birth, schooling, death and internment, all in a square mile or so. And my Gran was born, went to school, got married, raised her children, buried her husband and died in that square mile.
Did I mention that it’s an area which depresses me? I did my bit trying to revitalise it by serving on the board of the Townhead Village Hall for a couple of years, but it felt like putting sticking plasters on cancer… Ach, maybe that’s just funeral thinking.
The service was as Catholic as I get these days. The coffin was carried into the chapel on Thursday night, by me and three others. Damn, it was heavy. The priest welcomed it in, blessed it, and we left it lying in front of the altar overnight, sprinkled with holy water, wafted with incense. I thought she looked lonely.
Friday morning was the full funeral mass experience. Singing was as bad as ever, I took communion (never turn down a free blessing) and there was sort of an extended cut bonus – a decade of the rosary before we carried out the coffin (six of us, this time, which was a relief – that oak is heavy). On the way out I noticed the stained glass at the back of the chapel for the first time. Worth a trip back.
Then off to the crematorium, and another mini service. Much to my dismay we didn’t get “I Belong To Glasgow” but it all went off well enough. The priest closed it off with some words I can’t remember, and then we all went to lunch.
The lunch actually stands as a bit of a comedy epilogue. It was in a place called the Bankroll, ostensibly named for the fact that it’s a converted bank, rumoured to be a black pun on its function as a money laundry for local gangsters. Why else would it be a cash only establishment? Anyway, the fare was hearty, the drink free (yup, I got free sugar-free Irn-Bru) and the company… strange. This is where I was told that I was a dead ringer for two relatives I’d never met (one of them dead) and hugged by various middle aged women. What is it about women my age, that they all seem to be middle-aged? Can’t work that one out at all.
Hmm. For a catch up post, this hasn’t taken me very far, has it? If I have time I’ll write about the party we had back at my place that night, and how it took us from the wake to my Mum’s 70th, and maybe I’ll even bring things relatively up to date with details of the splendid night I had last Friday with LJ friends old and new.
For now, though, hello and goodbye, as always.