Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Last Word on Funeral Clothing; Courtesy of Charles Cowling

This blog has seen a lot of discussion concerning appropriate clothing lately. In the Weeds looked at the tradition of mourning clothing, and explored some modern day expressions of it. In The Shrouded Way, the dehumanizing effect requiring shrouds for cremation was discussed. The ways in which clothing can be an expression of the deceased was the subject of Don't Bury Me in a Suit.

funeral etiquette

However, I think that this post, borrowed from Charles Cowling's Good Funeral Guide puts it all in the right perspective. The purpose of funeral regulations and etiquette should be to show respect for the dead and provide comfort for the grieving. Rules should serve us, and not the other way around. Here, with pleasure is Stanley Holloway's 'Brahn Boots', along with printed lyrics for those of us who have difficulty understanding English. Thanks for this gem, Charles!

Our Aunt Hanna's passed away,
We 'ad her funeral today,
And it was a posh affair,
Had to have two p'licemen there!

The 'earse was luv'ly, all plate glass,
And wot a corfin!... oak and brass!
We'd fah-sands weepin', flahers galore,
But Jim, our cousin... what d'yer fink 'e wore?

Why, brahn boots!
I ask yer... brahn boots!
Fancy coming to a funeral
In brahn boots!

I will admit 'e 'ad a nice black tie,
Black fingernails and a nice black eye;
But yer can't see people orf when they die,
In brahn boots!

And Aunt 'ad been so very good to 'im,
Done all that any muvver could for 'im,
And Jim, her son, to show his clars...
Rolls up to make it all a farce,

In brahn boots...
I ask yer... brahn boots!
While all the rest,
Wore decent black and mourning suits.

I'll own he didn't seem so gay,
In fact he cried most part the way,
But straight, he reg'lar spoilt our day,
Wiv 'is brahn boots.

In the graveyard we left Jim,
None of us said much to him,
Yus, we all gave 'im the bird,
Then by accident we 'eard ...

'E'd given 'is black boots to Jim Small,
A bloke wot 'ad no boots at all,
So p'raps Aunt Hanna doesn't mind,
She did like people who was good and kind.

But brahn boots!
I ask yer... brahn boots!
Fancy coming to a funeral,
In brahn boots!

And we could 'ear the neighbours all remark
"What, 'im chief mourner? Wot a blooming lark!
"Why 'e looks more like a Bookmaker's clerk...
In brahn boots!"

That's why we 'ad to be so rude to 'im,
That's why we never said "Ow do!" to 'im,
We didn't know... he didn't say,
He'd give 'is other boots away.

But brahn boots!
I ask yer... brahn boots!
While all the rest,
Wore decent black and mourning suits!

But some day up at Heavens gate,
Poor Jim, all nerves, will stand and wait,
'til an angel whispers... "Come in, Mate,
"Where's yer brahn boots?"

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization. dailyundertaker@gmail.com