I first smoked at my granny’s funeral. I don’t think she would have approved.
Not that she was a Holy-Joe; my granny. Not at all. The woman liked the odd 60 fags-a-day herself. She used to pass around fags to her kids after dinner on Sundays back in the day. The weekly treat – but only if they’d had been good at mass.
I’m talking proper kids. Not teenagers. A load of children sitting ’round the kitchen table, smoking fags on Sunday afternoons. And then my granny had the nerve to get scaldy – ’cause her grandsons were smoking out in the garage. At her funeral. A bit hypocritical, if you ask me, considering her fag-peddling antics to children, fifty years previously!
Except I don’t think my granny was overly concerned about her grandson’s smoking out in the garage at her funeral. For a start she was dead, plus she was pragmatic. Laid out in the sitting room she was, under a big stitched picture of Jesus getting thick with some fellas at a temple.
It could’ve been Jesus, or maybe Moses. I never enquired, it was none of my business either way – Jesus or Moses. Both grand fellas by all accounts, either of them deserved to be stitched on a rug hanging on walls in ‘aul wan’s houses.
I’ve no problems there. But whoever it was – Jesus or Moses – he had a fierce scorpy temper on him. Judging by that big stitched picture hanging over my dead granny.
A load of beardy lads in red and beige dresses, getting thick with each other outside a fancy building. Losing the heads altogether they were. All stitched onto that big rug. Hanging on the wall of my dead granny’s house.
She wasn’t the last – my granny – there was one more straggler a year or two after, one more funeral, and then that was it. That whole generation of us dead.
No grandparents left. It’s a strange feeling. I can only imagine the day your last parent dies, and its just you, that whole generation of you is now also gone – and your generation are suddenly the oldest ones left.
But the problem with funerals I find, is there’s no ticketing system – no invites. It’s a fucking free for all, especially in country towns.
Also, it’s a well established fact that there’ll definitely be endless hard-liquor and ham-sandwiches available at all times throughout the wake at a country funeral. It’s like Turkish Airlines – free liquor all the way, but a woeful safety record so you can never be sure exactly what way things will turn out.
But the thing about Turkish airlines is their main clientèle are usually Muslim, so they don’t end up getting shafted by a bunch of booze-hungry Spud-Heads.
No such luck at my granny’s wake, we didn’t know any Muslims. Just half the town in your granny’s front room, all shaking hands with you and saying how sorry they are for your troubles – as if they’d something to do with the death themselves – the big guilty half-jarred heads on them.
Even the nuns looked guilty. Frantically doing their holy mumbles. Muttering away, feeling beads. My granny wouldn’t have been into that craic at all. She wasn’t mental.
But she had no say in the matter. Once again, ticketing issues and a lack of invites can’t be ignored as a significant problem here. I feel this needs to be addressed at committee level, the next time rural funeral logistics are on the agenda.
Because once those pious-fucking nuns get the whiff of a funeral, the mumbling hordes come banging down doors, out on the hunt for misery and sandwiches.
They never said anything of significance at funerals, those nuns. Just muttered prayers and thousand yard stares. They wouldn’t even have enough craic in them to have a cup of tea.
Anyway, you wouldn’t be able to say the rosary properly if you were holding tea, you’d be fucked. Spilling it all over your frock with all that frantic blessing yourself like a Holy epileptic.
Eventually the muttering nuns get to a point where you’re all supposed to join in with the muttering. Everybody somehow knows the lyrics; it’s like a fucking Garth Brooks song.
You don’t really have a choice in the matter, you just somehow know those fucking lyrics, they’re implanted somewhere in the darker corners of your brain, waiting to jump out when needed. Bored (or beaten) into you by those Presentation Brothers, ready to recite at funerals. And on New Years’s Eve in Donegal.