Uncle Tom's funeral.

Uncle Tom was buried today. He was 86. David, his son, said that they found him lying in his kitchen, probably a heart attack and that he died instantly. And that he didn’t suffer. We always like to think that, so we nod. He still had David’s school tie in his pocket, even though he’s about 32. I like that. His mind might have wandered but he was still literally in touch.

My brother drove us through. We were meant to pick up my sister, but she coughed down the phone at me and claimed to be unwell. The church was St Thomas’ in Riddrie, but after a while all churches look the same. We found it and parked up. I’m not great with names and neither is my brother. My sister is, so not only had she let Uncle Tom down, she’d let us down too. I shook hands and kissed strangely familiar faces and made the right noises and it seemed to work. No one called my bluff. It was a black priest officiating at the mass. I was predisposed not to like him. Not because he was black, but because he hadn’t let the undertakers leave the coffin in the church overnight because he wasn’t an ‘active member’ of the parish. The 50 years that saw off Pope Pius XXIII didn’t of course count. There is a delicate balancing act between saying the mass and involving the family in it that are having the funeral. One of Uncle Tom’s stepsons had written a little something, a commemoration of Uncle Tom’s life, but the priest didn’t allow that either.

The reception in a nearby hotel went well. It’s always amazes me how different people come out with all the different kinds of stories about the person that has died, a kind of tapestry of what they were like. Included in it were sketches of my mum and my aunts and people I knew and all kinds of things that make you just want to say Wow. The sad part is that people don’t turn up, or leave early because they have to go to work. I fully understand that, but some things are more precious than work. We left with the usual cries that we’d need to meet again and make a day out of it. The black tie, white shirt and black shoes will be put away until then.