Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bradford, Borneo and Bournemouth

The late evening was going quite perfectly. I was nestled in my armchair, I had a large brandy in one hand, a particularly fine cigar in the other and I was becoming quite engrossed in a TV programme featuring a 900lb woman from Bradford entitled ‘Eating Myself To Death’.

The good lady came to join me; “I had a letter today from a firm of lawyers.”

“How can that woman say that, due to arthritis, she hasn’t been able to exercise and that is the cause of her being a huge slab of fat? I’ve just seen her eat six cheeseburgers and two tubs of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie flavoured ice cream for a mid-morning snack. My God in heaven! She’s agreed to take part in a programme called ‘Eating Myself To Death’, surely the dumb, obese cow can take a hint.”

“Aunt Morgana died last month.”

“Liposuction? Liposuction on that bed-ridden behemoth? They’ll be there for bloody weeks with that little tube!”

“Are you listening to me?”

“Get me the number of the guy who pumps out our septic tank.”

For no reason whatsoever, my wife whacked me with the newspaper. I looked at her, “what the hell was that for?”

“Aunt Morgana died last month!”

“Never heard of her,” I said.

“We don’t talk much about her.”

“You don’t seem to be having a problem talking about her at the moment,” I suggested, “I was enjoying this programme. Why choose now to talk about her? If I talk to you when you’re watching ‘Desperate Slags’, or whatever it’s called, I get a punch in the ear. So, why can’t you leave me in peace to watch this lard-vacuum kick the bucket rather than talk about some bloody Morgana having kicked hers a month ago?”

“The letter said I’ve been left a share of the estate.”

Oh God. There was money involved. I turned off the television, filled my glass and turned to the wife, “go on then, what else did the letter say?”

“She’s being cremated next Tuesday at eleven in the morning and then there’s a reading of the will at two in the afternoon.”

“So what’s the problem?” I asked.

“She’s being cremated in Borneo.”

“Borneo? You had an aunt called Morgana living in Borneo?”

“Sorry,” she said, “I meant Bournemouth. I was thinking of Ian Dury at the time.”

(There probably is a link between Borneo and Ian Dury, but accept that it was my wife talking and just get on with things.)

“And why, “ I continued, “after all these long, long, long years of marriage is this the first I’ve heard of her?”

The wife squirmed uncomfortably in her chair and said, “We don’t like to talk about her. She’s from the dark side of the family.”

Looking at the wife in wide-eyed disbelief, I asked of her, “The dark side? Are you saying I didn’t get the worst of the lot? There’s a side of the family that’s worse than the bunch I know? Jesus Christ, I pity the sad and sorry bastard who ended up with Morgana.”

The expected punch in the chest never arrived. She was obviously upset by it all.

I squeezed her hand, “Don’t worry darling, we’ll sort it out. Go and get the letter.”

I read the letter.

“I knew this old witch!" I exclaimed, "They’re writing about Moggy Maggy from round the corner when we were kids!” (The wife and I grew up in Bournemouth)

“Don’t call her that.”

I ignored the wife, “Moggy Maggy was great fun! She used to throw bricks at children and hang dead cats on her front wall.”

The wife looked at me, “She was a bit confused, that’s all.”


My excitement grew as the day of the funeral approached.

I like funerals. They are far better than weddings. The best one to date was about four years ago where a poor man had to say goodbye to a son. The wake was going quite peacefully, apart from the odd minor border skirmishes between different families, when the man started to argue with his only remaining son.

Fists started flying and it soon became clear the father simply didn’t have the puff he used to have and he started to weaken. To avoid defeat, he grabbed a poker from the unlit fire and clubbed his son senseless.

The next day some of us, including the victorious father, were having a post-funeral “hair of the dog” in the boozer. The man’s battered son walked in.

“How are you today then son?” The father enquired.

“Well, dad,” the boy replied, “in the last two hours I’ve been to the doctors, the dentists and the opticians, but otherwise I’m okay.”

“Oh... don’t do it again!”

And they both lived happily ever after.

Anyway, the day for Moggy Maggy’s funeral arrived and the little lady and I turned up with ten minutes to spare. The crematorium was a big place. We strolled about and waited for the star attraction to arrive.

The wife called over a withered old lady.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“A relative of Morgana’s. I haven’t seen her for over forty years.”

“How do you know its her, then?”

The wife looked at me. “Because I haven’t been drunk for the last forty years.”

The missus and Moggy Maggy’s relative were muttering together. I could barely understand a word of it and I’m not too sure the missus was getting on to well, either. She told the relation how much of a shock the death had been, and how lucky she had been in knowing such a lovely person.

Good God! The old hag used to bulk purchase directly from the brewery, so her recent demise was hardly a surprise, and sticking fireworks up cats’ arses is hardly the action of a “lovely” person.

I took my leave, and had a mooch around whilst having a quick smoke and a nip from the hip flask.

Shortly, people started to enter the crematorium and we solemnly followed them.

Sitting at the back, I viewed the rest of the congregation. Strange looking bunch.

Surprisingly, quite a few people were attending. The guy next to me had come from abroad.

They wheeled in the coffin.

I whispered to the wife, “Describe your Aunt Morgana.”

“Oh, frail little lady. Barely five feet tall, bless her.”

“Fuck me. She’s put on some weight since you last saw her.”

“Shut up, you idiot. That’s a priest up there!”

“And grown about another two feet. Look at the size of that bloody coffin.”

“Be quiet, man!”

“I think,” I began to whisper, but stopped as the priest stood up and addressed the congregation…in Russian.

The wife and I looked at each other.

We left as quietly as possible.

The wife went into the hall next door and managed to catch the last minutes of Moggy Maggy’s funeral.

I stayed outside and managed to empty the hip flask between bouts of laughter.

The wife’s inheritance was a bullmastiff and a cheque for £90 towards dog food. Both were deposited with a Dog Rescue Centre within the hour.

I’d wanted to keep the bullmastiff. It would have evened things up at home.

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