Death has always terrified the bejeesus out of me, it has to be said. Quite frankly, I enjoy life too much to stop doing it, and (like being unable to go to that party with the rest of your friends from school) I’m simply too worried that I’ll miss out on something interesting.
Put simply, I’d rather not die if that’s OK with everyone? And if I do have to go at some point in the future (and I have heard vile and vicious rumo
urs suggesting that will indeed be the case), then I’ve got no intention of departing this mortal coil for some substantial time to come.
That said, death is an ever-present element of – erm – life. Barely a day goes by without a famous figure – or, worse still, someone you know and cherish – popping their clogs. It’s an all-too-constant reminder that life is transient. I’ve lobbied Congress to use crack squads of shadowy figures to cover up every single death, but somehow they seem to resist my urgings. I had thought I’d been making progress with the suggestion that Elvis was really alive and well and living in Cleethorpes, but then Jacko dies and it seems that (to pervert the words of Mark Twain) reports of his life are greatly exaggerated.
It’s when famous figures die in your homeland that you realise just how much of an expat you are. For bad or worse, for instance, I probably saw Mollie Sugden more often than I encountered some family members when I was a kid, with shows such as ‘Are You Being Served’ and ‘That’s My Boy’ being on the mandated ‘shows that the kids can watch’ list. Reading about her death on the BBC website hit me hard. But eventually the shock that she hadn’t died about five years ago was replaced by a sadness that a TV icon had passed on. Which was itself then superceded by a nagging regret that there was no-one around me with whom I could share the news without having to spend ten minutes explaining who Mollie Sugden was. And you try doing that without near-constant reference to Mrs Slocombe’s pussy…
Talking of which, if Mollie Sugden needs an aforementioned pussy to keep her company (and, on the off-chance that there’s an after-life) she could do much worse than Claude, our wily and loving cat who passed away two weeks ago today. The Special One had had Claude as a constant companion for 19 years, happily receiving his gifts of dead birds, and tending to his injuries after an exciting but woefully ill-advised four storey leap a few years ago.
Tell anyone about the demise of a 19 year old cat and they’ll likely say something alonge the lines of “well, he’d had a good innings”. And indeed he had. But he was a family member to us, and the one cat who had ever managed to make me like the damn creatures in the first place. Claude shared my propensity for watching baseball when the house was otherwise empty, and now every time I turn the TV on, there’s an empty place in my lap where a warm and skinny cat should be.
As you should know by now, Brits are part human, part Vulcan. As a result, we are incapable of experiencing emotion. Any water you may have seen coming out of my eyes was the result of a nasty retinal infection, and I’ll beat you over the head with my box of Kleenex if you suggest otherwise.