Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today I did the flowers for my father's funeral. It was one of the saddest and one of the most lovely things I ever did in my life.
The dear Brother-in-Law nobly took me and the Sister down to Covent Garden Market at the crack of dawn. We walked about staring closely at tulips. It reminded me of my days working for a florist next to the Coronet Cinema. It was the flower men; they were just the same as I remembered. Men who work in the flower business are a very particular type (and they mostly are men for some reason). They are, oddly when you think what they sell, no nonsense, often East End or Essex, flinty, and unsentimental. It would have been no good telling them it was for a funeral and expecting to get a sob story discount. The way they see it, everybody dies, and it's six pound fifty for the hydrangeas, I don't care if you are the Queen of Sheba in full court mourning.
My sister has gone to the church to do the main arrangement. I am doing the small ones, from people. From me and her, from my mother, from my brother, who cannot get back from Bali, where he lives.
A very old friend comes round and sits on the side of the bath and squints at the roses, as I start to stick them into the oasis. I sense that she might be sceptical about the tulips. In fact she is thinking of a genius thing to do with the excess tulip leaves.
'Twenty-five years,' she says, after a bit. 'That's what matters.'
That is how long we have known each other. It is what matters.
Sometimes I forget my father is dead and then I remember and it is like being hit by a hard, rushing wave. I got one yesterday in the garden of the V&A, and the day before outside the entrance to Knightsbridge tube. I think that everything is relatively normal and then I remember nothing is normal at all. I have a slightly out of kilter feeling, as if I am doing a dance and am permanently half a crochet behind the beat. I have a suspicion that I am shouting, like a deaf old lady.
'Am I SHOUTING?' I say to the old friend.
'No,' she says.
'You know,' I say to someone else, 'that thing that people say about he had a good innings? People should never say that. It is true but it is the wrong thing to say. But that's what they do. They say: Oh, well, he had a good innings, in the tone of voice which means Oh, well, you won't want to do anything as dull as grieve or anything, will you. The tone of voice which they might use if they saw someone else get a taxi ahead of them, and would say: Oh well, another one will be along in a minute.'
'There should be a moratorium on a good innings,' I said. 'No one should be allowed to say it until at least six months have passed.'
'Even then,' said the person I was talking to.
'Even bloody then,' I said.
For the flowers, I took these:
And did this:
And this, which looks a bit funny because the peonies aren't out, but they shall be in the morning:
And this is the big one:
Now the bath is full of flowers because I must keep them cool and damp, and shower them with the shower attachment to stop them wilting. I don't know what happens when I must ablute.
I suddenly think: they are not funeral flowers. But I don't know what funeral flowers actually are. I just did the prettiest ones I could think of.
Might be another gap now. I just wanted to tell you about the flowers. Also: in amongst everything, and there really is everything and the kitchen sink, I still find time to miss my dogs. How idiotic is that? I think: they might have liked a good squirrel hunt in Hyde Park.
I wonder too about the lilac. I think: whatever else happens, don't let me miss the lilac. It did not flower last year, and I was sad about that until August, when I finally let it go. This year it is getting ready to make up for the lost season, and I think: I must get home to see that.