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Thursday, 13 May 2004

On Having a Posh Voice

When you have a posh voice (lifting at the end of sentences to indicate you've at some stage changed your accent by force, natch) you often get asked to read at funerals.
So in the run up to the funeral, you have to worry about your text, your lines, your phrasing, your delivery. You have to think about your clothes - a pair of shit trainers sneaked in under the dark suit will reflect in the spotlight at the lectern, you'll never get away with it.
You have to deal with the clammy palms, the false starts, the rehearsal with the vicar, and the waiting in the apse for your cue.
As you wait, closer to the coffin than anyone else in the church, you recall what you had forgotten.
It's a funeral.
Someone you loved is dead and inside that box. That box right there.

Inevitably you cry. Because it's so sudden, so close to you, and you're alone, it's big lurching gulping sobs, not the snuffle of slow realisation you see in the congregation out front.
Nobody next to you has a tissue, because nobody is next to you. Nobody can lean over and squeeze your arm. Seeing your cousin snuffling doesn't help you, because your cousin's face is one in a sea of faces, all pointing up at you.
You have to wipe your nose on your sleeve, and practise gulping the snot down. You have to count to breathe evenly because your cue is coming. You have to remember to wipe your mascara upwards, because nobody's there to tell you that it's halfway down your face and glinting in the lamp's glitter. You need to get your voice back down an octave or two from strangulated sob to normal, because here's your cue.
You get to worry what people think of you. Whether they rolled their eyes when you fluffed a line.

Then you get to hope there's no toilet paper on your shoe, and your black jacket isn't covered in grey cat hairs as you descend the steps to the pews again, where for decorum's sake you'll sit at the end, with the smelly and eccentric aunties who need easy exit routes in case their incontinence pads don't last.

Nobody will say if you did okay or not, because nobody's interested in your reading. They're caught up in themselves.

Staring up at the altar, you're going to try to calm your breathing and your racing pulse back down so you can focus on the reason you're there - to think about and pray for the soul of the person who has died. You try to do this, but spend so much time feeling guilty for having not really thought about them much so far, having only cared about not fucking up your reading, that you're ushered out of the church on the arm of a relative you don't like before you got around to grief at all.

You posh voice affords you all these privileges. It never fucking gets you invited to speak at a wedding or a christening.

So that's why I'd rather get in the box myself than read at my granddad's funeral tomorrow. Okay?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:00 PM BST
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Thursday, 13 May 2004 - 5:08 PM BST

Name: chrysalis

Kleenex in your sleeve. Waterproof Mascara. An anti-histamine(helps with the snot factor). Flats, not heels. A travel lint roller. Short concise notes on numbered index cards. A(note the word 'few' is not interjected here) stiff drink (preferably gin or vodka so as to not show on your breath). In lieu of stiff drink......a (once again singular) Valium.

Get to the service early.......have a moment(or longer) with your Grandfather before others arrive. Say a quick prayer before you make your grand really does help.

Don't look at your cousin.....or anyone else who knew him well enough to be brought to tears. If, indeed, you become not try to talk through it. Ask the other mourners to give you a moment.......of all people, they will understand. And, if for some odd reason they don't......f*ck 'em. In the long run, you are not really there for them anyway. You should be there for yourself.....and for your Grandfather.

I hope that something in the above worked fairly well for me. Thoughts/Prayers/Good Vibes (whatever it is that gives you strengh) headed your way. Good Luck.

Thursday, 13 May 2004 - 7:21 PM BST

Name: PAUL
Home Page:

Completely understandable, and you know, you can say no. You don't HAVE to read. You don't need to feel any responsibility. I'm useless at funerals, if I were asked to read I'd probably dissolve into tears before I ever made it to the podium.

Thursday, 13 May 2004 - 7:26 PM BST

Name: Kat
Home Page:

Great advice by Chrysalis. You'll be just fine.

This is also so lame, but what else can people say to offer comfort? I am sorry about your grandfather. Really.

Thursday, 13 May 2004 - 7:41 PM BST

Name: wifflewiffle

My condolences.
And that is a very kick ass pic.

Thursday, 13 May 2004 - 10:59 PM BST

Name: Cyn
Home Page:

That is a kick-ass graphic! (thanks to you and wifflewiffle--I wouldn't have looked closely enuf to see one of my all-time favourite guys!)

Darling V., you of the "posh voice" that I had absolutely no idea was part of "you," you will be wonderful and there will be moments of value in it for you as well.

Most funeral speeches seem to include an allusion to a humourous trait and/or story of the person in the coffin.
People actually do laugh for a few moments and it seems to help everyone, including the speaker.

Friday, 14 May 2004 - 11:24 AM BST

Name: Dave
Home Page: http://er

Funerals all over the shop this week - my sister is at her (28 year old) mate's funeral in Crewe as I type - he just died in his sleep last week.

Condolences to you as well then...

Friday, 14 May 2004 - 6:58 PM BST

Name: cacoa

if you don't want to do it, don't. *courage*

Friday, 14 May 2004 - 10:18 PM BST

Name: Saltation
Home Page:

If you're not comfortable, you're doing it for social reasons, not because you're actually commemorating granddad. And would you want YOUR grandchild bleating and roboting and acting through a random piece of theatre at YOUR funeral?

Stalk up, pause, thump the casket, husk "I'll miss you, you old ba stard," and turn away. Personally, I could not, would not ask, could not ask for, a better way to be remembered.

Saturday, 15 May 2004 - 10:38 PM BST

Name: Vanessa in Liverpool on Mark's funk

It is indeed a kick ass picture. My grandad knew the Fantastic Four, you know, back in the day.

The point of Catholic funerals is a religious reading, so it's not like a speech or a memorial. It's a poem at it's most secular, but even then written or chosen by the deceased. Whatever, I'm not doing it, I want to sit and experience what I want to experience, not the stuff above in the post, and there's eleven other cousins plus great grandchildren to choose from. So I didn't.

Cyn - my voice was on the silly video I posted up once, so you can judge for yourself.
Hold on, yeah, it's here. Oh frig, no, that's me listening to music in my car. Worrabout here. Oh hold on, that's mostly fmc with the giggles, you can't really hear me. Try here.

(You can tell I'm taking the @#%$! out of myself, right?)

Sunday, 16 May 2004 - 12:02 AM BST

Name: Vanessa in Liverpool

(I won't, though.)

Sunday, 16 May 2004 - 7:22 AM BST

Name: Cyn
Home Page:

Ah, now I get what a "posh" voice is, thank you.
You sound like an actress. (Don't I sound like a dumb American? I need to go spend some time with my Canadian relatives.) I confess, usually the only time I get to hear a UK accent is in films.
If a meet a person with a British accent here in the US, I get all silly 'cause I think they sound so cool.

Here in the Mid-West, Americans have very bland accents. :/
Since I'm not technically an American I'll work on mine.;)

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