It was about 11 o’clock on a cold morning in February. The hearse wound its way in front of me, passing broken headstones and graffiti. Not a nice place.So there I was with dad, Uncle Bill, my cousins Willie, Billy and William, standing at the back of the hearse.
Granny had left strict instructions detailing how she wanted her funeral to be conducted – “don’t mess with it or I’ll come back and haunt you”:
1. Put me in with Granda Billy.
2. The Co-op’s been paid so don’t let them screw anybody for any extras.
3. Boys only as pall bearers – no feminist crap from Willemina – she would only drop me.
4. Back to the Lodge for some grub and a few nips of Whyte and Mackay. (Just a few mind – I don’t want any of you getting into fights at my funeral like you did at Granda Billy’s).
P.S. don’t let the Minister say anything by that bastard misogynist St Paul.
Granny had died last Tuesday, and this was the first opportunity we had to bury her. I was aware, even on the walk to the grave, of a conversation behind where someone commented that this would probably be the first and last ‘Tim’ in this family. My Granny was a ‘Tim’. Coming from Glasgow you might not think that particularly unusual. But in my family it was more than unusual, it was a first. Well at least since the reformation. My family were Orange to the core. Even some of the women had Red Hand of Ulster tattoos. It took ten years for the family to come round but in the end the token Tim became one of them. She had once told me, laughing, how she always wore her rosary beads under her jumper when she went to the Orange Lodge and sprayed the toilets with holy water.
I reached the graveside and placed the coffin on the trestle. The minister said all the correct things that ministers say about someone they don’t actually know and then gave the signal. I took the strain on the cords as the planks were removed from the gaping hole and I slowly played out the ropes. It must almost have been at the bottom when it happened.
The sound of a mobile phone ringtone drifted up and I fell.
I came to in the hospital, and heard Cousin Willie saying helpfully, “Aye in he went, head stoattin off the coffin”.
So now I knew the full extent of my disgrace. I had headbutted Granny, seen her off with a Glasgow Kiss.
“So he’s going to be alright then?” asked Willie sidling towards the back of the cubicle. “Only it’s a free bar till the drinks run out, and I’ve already been here for hours.”
“So who do you think was phoning?” the Doc asked.
I smiled to myself.
When I see yer granda again, I’ll find a way to let you know, she had said, pressing the Crazy Frog ringtone on her phone.
* * *
Jax Leck – Fiftysomething ex-cop who now acts as legal counsel for a whisky company has been a closet write-aholic for years and has only recently come out. One novel, The Seeress of Ruskan, science fantasy.