I’m planning ‘probably the best funeral in the world’ – Jim Duffy

Jim Duffy suggests funeral guests should dress according to a theme, like the musical Grease or James Bond (Picture: Jon Savage)
Jim Duffy suggests funeral guests should dress according to a theme, like the musical Grease or James Bond (Picture: Jon Savage)
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Funerals can be depressing, so Jim Duffy is thinking about how to liven things up a bit at his ‘big day’.

I could never understand why Carlsberg got way with calling its lager “probably the best lager in the world”.

Nevertheless, the marketing team at this giant behemoth of a brewing company did a great job. The tagline stuck for decades and I think I actually had a few Carlsberg over the years.

But, it got me thinking about other things in life where one could use the term – probably – then hype up the story. Probably, the best car in the world. Probably the best phone in the world. Probably the best kettle in the world.

But, in exploring this deeper, I thought about the lasting impression one could leave on this planet. So, for me it has to be the: “Probably the best funeral in the world.”

It’s an age thing. There are three things in this life that I cannot stomach. The first is big groups of noisy people. The second is hospitals. And the the third is funerals.

The latter are just so mind-numbingly depressing. At least the ones that I have been to. Firstly, there is the funeral mass. If one is Christian then this can be a long and drawn out affair.

I noted recently that the Bishop of Motherwell had put his foot down, saying only the celebrant, a priest, could actually do the talking here. No eulogies from family or friends. I wondered if this was a form of social control.

Once the tedium of scripture readings, homilies, bidding prayers and a whole lot more are over with, your tummy is rumbling and your mind has already wandered off on several plains. Then, comes the funeral bit, where the pain goes on longer.

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But, it doesn’t end there unfortunately. It’s then off to the crematorium or cemetery. The cemetery is usually a muddy affair, where your nice posh Sunday shoes get dirty and, of course, it always feels bleak and it rains. The priest will say a few words and again it is all very formal. Usually by this time, one is wondering whether it will be scotch broth and steak pie or crappy hand-cut sandwiches with awful processed meat at the reception. I can’t say it is much fun.

Of course, the crematorium offers a different experience. For one your shoes remain clean and it is warmer. But, once the deceased disappears down into the big fire, the family at least get a chance to play a song that the deceased liked. For many in crematoriums in Scotland, there is a joint number one – either “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner or “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers. And this is where I think we can be a bit more creative.

To be awarded the “Probably the best funeral in the world” title, you are going to have to think out of the box ... if you will pardon the pun.

Firstly, do you want to go down the religious route? If so, then you may be stymied by God. He does not appear to want too much fuss, too much palaver and most definitely nothing too raunchy. Your chums may not be able to eulogise during the event and you won’t get your favourite song till the end.

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So, maybe try a humanist gig. And this is where probably the best funeral template in the world exists.

After all, it is your big day. In fact, the biggest day of your life on this Earth after the day you came into it. So, why not go out with a bang?

Perhaps you might want to consider the following to help you win the title.

Firstly the dress code. Black is so yesterday, so how about you ask your guests to dress in a theme. That theme, of course, could be one that is special to you. Your funeral guests – notice I’m not using the word “mourners” – could come dressed as the guys and gals in the musical Grease. Or you may opt for a James Bond theme. Or maybe a simple tartan twee affair. No-one is judging here...

Next, you have to give some serious thought to the music and mood. Hallowed organ music with dark overtones everywhere is the norm, but maybe you could jazz things up a little.

For my crack at the title, I am going to use the theme tune from the original Superman movie by John Williams as my guests enter the cremie. There will be some Indie in the form of Think by Kaleida. I want a full sing-along to Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believing. And for my finale as my brightly coloured coffin heads south, I want Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me or maybe a cliched Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Oh yeh the coffin. Rather than the traditional oak, I want Ikea white. Every guest gets a different coloured marker pen and gets a “menshy” on my coffin. The funnier the better and the celebrant gets to choose the winner. I think audience participation is key to a happier and more meaningful funeral. It should then be photographed and shared on Twitter.

There are loads of things that you can incorporate including, funny readings, video, a Twitter hashtag and so it goes on. But, the opportunity and potential for you to shape how you go is endless. It doesn’t have to be morose and shrouded in grief. You can set the tone now well in advance before others plan your big day.

I think my first pass at having a go at the “Probably the best funeral in the world” title will rank in the Scottish top ten. My question to you is: how much fun and effort will you put into trying to hit the Number One spot?