A Short Excerpt from "Old Age and Villainy":
This excerpt is from the chapter "Popping One's Clogs" in the unedited version of the book...enjoy!
I remember a few years ago, I received a letter from Mum, which started off, “My dear family,” and went on to tell us how much she loved us, how thankful she was to have such a wonderful family and other things in this vein.
Alarmed, I promptly rang her to see what on earth was wrong. I had visions of her having been diagnosed with some dreadful illness and being given only a short time to live. When I asked her what was wrong, she started to laugh. Apparently, my brothers and members of our extended family to whom she had also written had much the same reaction.
From what Mum said, all she wanted to do was to tell us all how much she loved us, how proud she was of us and to thank us for being there for her. It had an unexpected result in that her phone rang hot with alarmed questions from said family asking her what was wrong. It was not quite the response she had anticipated.
In the meantime, she decided on a couple of songs for her funeral. One of which was “When the Saints go Marching In” by Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, the other being “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. When I asked her why she wanted “Saints”, the reply?
“Because I like it.”
However, when she told an acquaintance what she had chosen, said acquaintance was absolutely horrified.
“You can’t have songs like that!” she cried.
“Why not?” queried Mum.
“Oh, no. That’ll never do. I want my family to be absolutely devastated with grief at my funeral and I’m going to have all the sad hymns,” replied the other.
“No,” rejoined Mum firmly, “I want my family to remember me in a happy manner. I don’t want them weeping and wailing when I pop my clogs! Therefore, I’m having those two songs, and,” she added, “it’s in my will.”
I’d been telling her for the last 30 years that only the good die young and in her mid 90s, she’s well on the way to proving it.