There are occasions when life as the Lifestyle Support Guru can be very difficult, but it is my job to give you, Beloved Believers, a glimpse from time to time of how simple and straightforward life for you as an ordinary person can be – you will never know the trials faced by the LSG as I try to lead a ‘normal’ life. As an ‘ordinary’ being, you will not have to face situations such as I endured at the bus stop today. Let me set the scene:
Wishing to experience the same ‘ordinariness’ as others, so that I may better advise you on how to live your life more fully, I made my way to the bus stop (with the intention of going into town to spend some of my hard-earned pension), where someone was already waiting: a gentleman of ‘a certain age’, as the French so delicately put it – in other words, he was old! After politely nodding to him, I studied the bus timetable for the sake of something to do whilst waiting for the bus, even though I had a book in my hand – but I always feel there’s something a little…pretentious about standing at a bus stop reading. One should always stand at a bus stop gazing hopefully, even wistfully, in the direction from which the bus will appear, but with a certain amount of resignation written on one’s face as well, especially at this particular bus stop. ‘Why resignation?’ I hear you ask (I hear you clearly because I have very good hearing, unlike three out of my four siblings, who are descending rapidly into senility towards the likelihood of using an ear trumpet). The resignation is because, although every bus that picks up at this stop goes directly into town, not every bus heading for town picks up at this stop. Are you following this? I have stood at this very bus stop and watched six – yes, SIX! – buses sail past while I wait in the cold and wind that constitute a British summer – two school buses, one Park and Ride, the ‘Express’ from Belper, the ‘Comet’ from Chesterfield and a random National Express coach heading from Bradford to Aberdare – not a route that gets booked up quickly, I should imagine.
But I digress. Whilst lost in a reverie of admiration for the complexities of not one, but TWO bus timetables (because of competing bus companies), I became aware that the gentleman with whom I was sharing the bus shelter was speaking to me. This is not uncommon, of course – the LSG attracts attention from all! Unfortunately, he was speaking in a VERY broad Scottish accent (apologies to my Scottish friends!) and I could only understand every other word. Unfortunately, again, every other word seemed to be the same one – ‘f***’ (or variations thereof). As I attuned myself to his speech (I pride myself on my linguistic ability – I can understand many dialects, from Geordie to Brummie via Scouse and North Waleian, which is VERY difficult), I realised he was talking about the cold weather and his recent visit to Scotland for his mother’s funeral where he hadn’t been able to get a taxi to the funeral because of the snow. I didn’t ask why he hadn’t hired a funeral car – I felt this might lead to a long explanation and even the LSG doesn’t possess infinite patience. You will be pleased to know, however, that he DID get to the funeral – by bus! Scottish buses run in all weathers, apparently, unlike those in England, which stop at the first sign of a snowflake, or so the Scottish gentleman told me. Luckily, our own bus arrived at this point, so I was spared further details (and expletives). I was a little worried that he might sit next to me and continue his tale, but he sat next to someone else and proceeded to tell them exactly the same story!
Since this adventure, however, I have discovered that, occasionally, the LSG can remain incognito – nobody in the pub this evening seems to have noticed that I am wearing a jumper with baked bean stains from this afternoon’s lunch! (I hadn’t noticed until now either!) 😊
Preparing For A Funeral
Good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Tonight’s topic – a funeral – may surprise you, but even funerals can be enjoyable. The tale may be a little long, but I make no apologies – besides, I am the LSG and I don’t need to apologise for anything!
Firstly, I like travelling with youngest sibling, even to a funeral – he’s about the only person I know (male or female) who doesn’t raise an eyebrow when you ask, ‘Is it OK to take four jackets?’ – mainly because he has also packed four jackets! (one for if it’s fine and mild, one for if it’s fine but cold, one for if it’s wet but mild and one for if it’s wet but cold)
Where Is It?
Be sure to arrive early for the service so that you can find out exactly where you need to go. Unfortunately, you find nothing to indicate whether to go to the North Chapel or the South Chapel and no one around to ask. Leave youngest sibling standing in the doorway of the South Chapel, sheltering from the pouring rain (coat – the one for ‘wet but cold’) and go on the search for any helpful signs. Luckily, you find a (tiny) waiting room and also spot someone who looks as if he might know what is going on. He says that the service will be in the North Chapel and points to a large door right next to the waiting room, so you fetch youngest sibling and take a seat in the waiting room as time passes and you wait for others to join you. Suddenly, a disembodied voice rings around the waiting room: ‘Hello! It’s nice to see you here.’ You both jump because the waiting room is not big enough to hide a mouse, let alone another person. Confusion – even terror! – reigns until you spot a speaker up in the corner of the room, which is obviously relaying the voice of the minister taking the service. Phew! Not a voice from above, then!
Five minutes before the service is due to start, despite there being no one else around, which you find rather surprising, you decide you’d better make your way into the chapel and you head
for the door indicated earlier. The door opens directly into the chapel and you are followed in by a strong gust of wind that blows all the Order of Service programmes onto the floor from the pews. The minister looks a little surprised at your entrance and tells you to sit at the back – he’s obviously spotted that you are troublemakers – before going around replacing all the programmes on the pews. Two minutes later, the door opens to allow the family and a huge crowd of mourners to enter – unfortunately, the door was not the one through which we had entered! We had come in through the back door, so to speak, which explained the faint looks of surprise on the faces of those entering to see two people already in place. It was a lovely funeral service, with some great singing, although you have to restrain yourself from shouting ‘Wales! Wales!’ at the end of ‘Calon Lân’, because that is your usual response during a rugby game. (I’m sure Speedy Freda would have approved!)
It is then on to the post-funeral refreshments at a local rugby club – I have to say, dear followers, that the Valleys can equal any top-flight London restaurant when it comes to putting on a spread. Please don’t expect cheese and pineapple on sticks any longer – oh no, the cheese and the pineapple were served in separate dishes. There was even a pot of hummus. Dead posh! And vegetarians were amply catered for – at the far end of the table was a small plate with a little flag saying ‘Veggie’ and on the plate were two slices of quiche and half a tomato (cut in a posh way, of course). They were still there at the end, as was most of the hummus, so vegetarians are not yet running rampant in the Valleys.
You might be wondering where the ‘four friends’ of the title come in – they were the LSG and Speedy Freda’s son and two daughters, some of the LSG’s oldest friends. ‘But what about youngest sibling?’ you cry. ‘Doesn’t he count as a friend?’ Well, of course he does, but that would have spoiled the title!
A day of tears and laughter, but that’s what the best funerals are all about – and this was one of the best! Nigel, Karen, Sarah, you did your Mam proud. Nos da, Freed.
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru. This evening I intend to help you understand that, contrary to popular belief, funerals are not something to dread but, rather, events to be enjoyed and cherished.
Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a friend who had been ill for some time and, probably like the rest of you when you attend funerals, was not particularly looking forward to it. However, I have to say that I came away afterwards with a smile on my face. ‘How could this be?’ you cry. ‘Funerals are sad affairs for saying goodbye to people. They require a copious supply of tissues and very little mascara.’ (Remember, boys, I’m also talking to you – never let it be said that the LSG favours one sex over the other in terms of tissues and mascara.)
Now, I have learned that the secret of a good funeral is who you talk to AFTERWARDS. The
mourners had been invited to partake of ‘light refreshments’ after the funeral at a local watering hole – so far, so good, I’m sure you’ll agree. I chose to sit with some friends who had placed themselves at the far end of the pub, away from the ‘professional’ mourners – i.e. the ones who sit staring into their drinks glasses with a sombre look on their faces for far longer than is necessary. I shall set the scene:
There was a small supply of the day’s newspapers at this ‘fun’ end of the pub and a headline caught my eye: ‘Jane gets herself into another fine mesh!’ If I tell you that this was NOT an accidental misspelling of ‘mesh’, but that underneath it was a picture of a blonde female in a VERY skimpy mesh one-piece in a particularly lurid shade of fuchsia, you will probably be able to work out which newspaper this was. I knew straight away that this could not be the Jane I know and admire so much because – a) she was blonde and b) Jane would never wear that particular shade of fuchsia.
Discussion moved seamlessly from mesh to TV programmes and I was especially intrigued by one friend who said he really enjoyed police programmes, particularly the ones featuring the ‘Head Loo’. I don’t watch many of this type of programme, but felt sure that I would have heard of one featuring a ‘Chief Toilet’. It wasn’t until he mentioned the Welsh police force that I realised he was referring to ‘Heddlu’ (more or less pronounced ‘hethlee’), which is Welsh for ‘Police’! How I laughed! 🙂
And finally, my greatest source of entertainment was a story told by another friend about a friend of hers who had just come back from holiday and felt that her nipples showed up too much under a white top she wanted to wear out, so she painted them with…Tippex (white correction fluid). All was well until she got home and was getting undressed for bed – her husband looked at her in horror and said, ‘Oh, my god, what’s the matter with you?’ – the Tippex was peeling off her nipples as she took off her bra and it looked as if she’d got some dreadful skin disease!
Impossible to top that story, so I felt it was time to go home – with a lighter heart and a smile on my face. 🙂
So that is today’s lesson – it’s not who you know, but who you sit with at funerals that can give you the best moments.
Sleep well, dear devoted followers!