Bev and I have been away, overnight Tuesday, along with Dad, Tim & Julie, Sye & Yve. We stayed in the Holiday Inn, at Brentford Lock, in order to attend the funeral service and burial of Dad's brother Bill, on Wednesday. The service was held in St. Mary's Church, Ealing, with the burial taking place in the family plot in South Ealing Cemetery. Uncle Bill was a very talented individual, a great model maker, he became a BBC film camera engineer whilst also pursuing a career as a professional musician. He played with many of the most talented musicians of the "big band era" and, due to his expertise, not only as a virtuoso saxophonist/clarinettist but also in musical instrument repairs, was held in high esteem by his peers. At the church, although held in a religious venue and conducted, superbly, by the Rev. James Fields - the overwhelming message was one of what a decent guy he had been and how he had made such a positive impact on those who were fortunate to meet him.
The celebration of his life was continued in Twickenham, at The Eel Pie Club - the jazz rooms belonging to The Cabbage Patch PH. We were treated to a musical master-class, by some of the most talented musicians of the big band/jazz genre who are plying their trade in, and around the pubs and clubs, of London and the South-east (possibly even further afield?) It was sensational and a fitting tribute to such a genuinely nice guy. Bev was blown away - she'd never seen Bill play live and the 20+ musicians, who made up the ensemble were there giving it all they'd got - Bill, being so modest, might have felt flattered, but would have approved, I feel?
The God Squad played no part in Bill's life, and the service reflected this, within reason. Obviously, anyone born in the 1920's and brought up in a working class home would have been christened, but that's as far as it went with Uncle Bill. His music is what under-pinned his existence - when he suffered a stroke and lost the ability read music - he lost the purpose of his being. He died, at home, after a massive heart attack - having been out listening to his beloved music, as played by his mates, the evening before. Something rather fateful, yet poetic, for such a great bloke!
Whilst we were sat in the church - a magnificent building - James asked us all to spend few moments thinking about Bill and then also ourselves. What do we bring to the table? Do we enrich the lives of others, as Bill had done?
I make no secrets of my cynicism of this religious twaddle - if you, as an individual, find comfort in your faith; then you have every right and I will never questioned this belief. It just don't work for me - simple! I am not an atheist, I want to believe that there is more to my being than life on earth, but I just can't buy into this man-made fairy tale, which has been the cause of more bloodshed than any other single factor in modern history. But "wow!" What a question - there's gotta be a blog post in this? So whilst I was sat, small light ale to hand, listening the wonderful sounds emanating from those unbelievably gifted musicians, who'd turned up to pay their respects, I found my mind wandering down different avenues. What have I done which could possibly be construed as a positive by others? Catching big fish, seeing more birds in a year than anyone else in Kent, attracting a scarce moth to the garden MV - doesn't cut it; as enjoyable as these events are, they are selfish and won't be remembered when I'm gone?
I'm going to spend some time thinking about this and see if I can get an answer? It was such a "bolt from the blue" type of event that I'm bewildered, shell-shocked, by the complexity of what a lifetime is capable of being? There's more to come - of that I'm sure - but I am going to take a step back and give it a serious amount of thought.