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A Life Worth Marking

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Alison Richards - Funeral Order of Service
The mood was sombre.

And that was just in my car – I couldn’t find the crematorium for love nor money. The postcode Google had given me was a good mile for where I eventually found Headington Crematorium, near Oxford, with 5 minutes to spare before the funeral of Alison Richards, my OBE-entrusted relative who had died a few weeks previously.

I find crematoriums – and I’ve had the misfortune to visit a few in my life – very *generic*. They all look pseudo-modern, with friendly but functional features outside and white, flower-adorned walls within. The room is always a perfect oblong, congregation at one end and curtains encircling a plinth at the other. The basic features only serves to highlight the personalities that enter the room for each service, I suppose – all with there own stories to tell, and all there to mark the life of a special person in their lives.

And what a life we were marking today. Alison, business trailblazer and generous to a fault, had many friends – so many, in fact, that it was standing room only – the doors could barely be closed. We entered to the haunting tune of “The Long and Winding Road”, and grabbed an Order of Service (PDF here). As I scanned the room I found many faces I knew, some old colleagues from my time at The Pier and some relatives I really should know better. The service began.

The hymns I could recall from my school days – Lord Of All Hopefulness and Jerusalem – but it was lovingly sandwiched in between the hymns that the emotions ran high. Sassie, a woman I first met and played with when I was seven and she was two years younger – reading “The Final Flight“, a heartbreaker of a poem. One of Alison’s best friends made the congregation laugh and weep with her notes on Alison’s life. Then my godfather, Alan, stood up for the main eulogy, rebelliously telling us that despite being given four minutes in his alloted time slot he was going to go on for an awful lot longer. So he did – and so he should. Alison’s life was full of adventure, and every major twist and turn was recalled in lighthearted and at times poignant words. It was an excellent speech.

Those around me had survived the emotions and we all filed out, past the coffin, to the tune of Jamie Cullum’s But For Now. Outside, I met relatives I hadn’t met since Alison’s enormously extravagant 50th birthday party at Vinopolis. We all continued the conversations at the wake afterwards at The Lodge. We all agreed it was about time we saw each other more – and in a strange way it brought the event full-circle. The ending of one life has served to entwine the family more.

Missing In Action; Presumed Busy

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You may be thinking that the lack of posts on wibbler.com shows the dull, slow-paced life I must be having. Quite the opposite, in fact, and that means very little time to post the wonderful, action packed events that have graced the last few weeks. For example, there was:-
– the paintball expedition, where I sustained bruises that were still coming out a week later;
– the visit to Fright Night at Thorpe Park, which entailed 2 visits to the wettest ride in the park, long queues for every other ride and even longer queues to get out of the car park;
– the leaving meal of my old boss at The Pier, which resulted in my first visit to chilly Oxford and a series of particularly appalling renditions at karaoke;
– the designing/building of part of the Fat Face website, done and dusted in little over a week;
– the designing of two other sites in under two weeks;
– the Grand Get Together with 16 of my nearest and dearest, all congregating in Zizzi’s restaurant in Guildford, on a table designed for 12 people;
– A visit to Nick’s house with Sarah and Michelle for a night of drinks, games and pre-birthday presents;
– A knees up with Nick last Friday in Guildford, where we cobbled together an ingenous business plan in a drunken haze.
– Visits to the gym four times a week with Michelle, with a view to turning my body into slightly more of a temple;
And last, but not least – Boris Johnson. Boris Boris Boris. He’s been in the news a lot lately for better or worse, and Boriswatch has been inundated with visitors – an average of 5000 a day for the last two weeks. And then last Friday in a hail of media fire, he was sacked. Cue calls from Sky News and the BBC, asking for comments and interviews – and it all came to a head yesterday, with your humble host popping up to the House of Commons for a lunch date with the great man himself.
So what I propose is this. I’ll blog a selection of these events over the next week of so, and you sit there with the patience of a saint. Sound reasonable?