26 june 2018






school photos







           All original writing

           2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,            2018        Ian McLauchlin



So it was the day of the funeral. Quite a long drive so left home at 6:30. Check - dark suit, black shoes, black tie, black bags under eyes, black underpants and black bum bag. That's all OK then.

Stopped for Costa coffees at a service station. Costa fortune. Used cruise control for the first time and liked it.

Arrived at the crematorium after a 4 hour drive. Found a space in the car park near a tradesman's van:

Picked white cat hairs off daughter's jacket one by one. The consequent static field caused them to fly instantly onto my own black jacket . . .

There were two 'Chapels', North and South. Noted they'd avoided the temptation to call them 'Tropic of Cancer' and 'Tropic of Capricorn'. But which one? The family wanted to have limited numbers. On the notices for the allotted time we found 'Private Service'. That was the first indication that the deceased had been in the army . . .

It was a simple service conducted by Nephew. Strauss music was played and during the sound track to '2001 A Space Odyssey' my mind wandered to the coffin. It wasn't on rollers so it wasn't going to roll. It was on battens so it may sink into the floor . . . . (At funerals, people often laugh and make jokes - a way of dealing with the stressful situation. So I made jokes, but only for myself.) If it sinks into the floor, they're going to have to make the hole much wider for the burgeoning size of the current population . . . They'll have to change the furnace catalyst much more frequently too now they're repeatedly contaminated by tattoo ink. etc.

During a silent passage I swallowed and it went the wrong way. Oh no, coughing fit coming up. Coughing interval followed by apology interval. Bugger, that didn't clear it. All concentration on the funeral evaporated and it became a battle of wills between my reflexes and my control systems. Breath slowly and deeply . . . etc.

Afterwards we all went for lunch into St Albans. Queues at every set of traffic lights and, when the lights went green at a pedestrian crossing, a formidable lady stepped in front of the car with her palm facing me and strode determinedly across the road. So I learned that, in those foreign parts, palm trumps green light. We parked in a multi-storey car park which started Full, then Spaces, then Full, then Spaces so nipped in quickish before it decided it was Full again. Passed a pavement sign which caught my eye and my sentiments:

We found a Moroccan Restaurant with lots of Vegetarian options but I chose differently. My Mains choice involved a salmon steak in a spicy cream sauce. Absolutely delicious:

It was brought to the table by a waitress piping hot and bubbling. The food was too. You can see it bubbling here:


The restaurant decor was typically Moroccan with coloured tiles and mosaics everywhere - EXCEPT, the toilet bowls were standard UK glazed white. Bit of a cop-out there . . .

I know, let's have a look at St Alban's Cathedral while we're here.

There were lots of young people sitting on the cathedral lawns in the sun. (None of us old people were 'cos we wouldn't be able to get up again.)

Noticed two young girls doing some tai-chi type exercises with palms touching above heads and one foot resting against the opposite knee. (Old people? See above.)

After certain regretful thoughts that it would be unseemly to go into here, finally entered the cathedral. Noted the statutory large stained glass window was present. The God of Coloured Glass would surely have been grossly displeased without it.

Lots of statutory statuary was also on show:

BUT I've never seen a statue wearing specs before:

Oh, hang on, got it. Sponsored by Ye Olde Specsavres. There were also tombs galore. There’s one of St Alban's (quite appropriate really):

It said in the blurb that he was promised that no harm would befall him if he surrendered. He did and they killed him. These are the religious by the way. Still in thrall to them?

Here's the Compulsory font. Is it Calibri? Times New Roman most likely.

The tomb of the unknown invisible man:

"What, permission to take photographs withheld? Then I'll withhold the £1000 donation then . . . . . And give it to the Charitable Foundation for the Protection of Words with Two 'h's side by side."

On the way back to the car park we passed a plaque telling us that here was housed the 3rd printing press in the whole of England. How did they know? Because they printed posters on that very press which said "Roll up, roll up (this was before they invented roll-ups). Come and visit the 3rd printing press in the whole of England (maybe) (Other printing presses are available)".

The payment machine in the multistorey car park was broken and a notice said “Use machine on floor below”. Went to floor below and the payment machine was broken. Notice said “Use machine on floor above”. Set off home very tired and several days later than planned.

Nothing of interest happened on the journey back except the temperature reached 25C on the M25 – hence the name of course. Had another Costa packet experience and another sandwich eaten. Daughter drove the rest of the way. But just before that, she couldn't start the car. “Oh no, I've broken dad's car and I've only just changed seats.” Got out, sat in driver's seat, started car. Then I remembered. It won't start unless you have your foot on the brake or the clutch or both! Phew. Disaster narrowly averted.

After an uneventful drive amid fitful employment of cruise control, arrived home safely. That's all there is, sorry. And I tore up the flyer, printed on some printing press or other, urging me to buy the Observer's Book of Printing Presses at a huge (small) discount if I donated to the fund to restore the 47th printing press in England, still to be discovered.