Posts Tagged ‘Wedding’

I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.

November 21, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

These words are part of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Last night’s effort in resisting Alzheimer or dementia, was an exercise in trying to remember the last few lines of her beautiful poem. It was harder than I thought. Why try it in the first place? It could well be this looming Christmas whereby I resort to contemplating what might be next in store. Close to another year having dropped its autumn leaves. Another ring around this aging trunk. Of course, here in the Southern world, it is the wilting of spring flowers that heralds the end of the year. A hot Christmas might well be in the offering. The Bogong moths are already trooping, getting ready for their annual migration to the much cooler Snowy mountains.

This photo from Google images.


Our first Christmas celebration in Australia was astonishing. I still remember that smell of beer and ripe prawns. The mid-night Mass with the congregation wearing shorts and rubber thongs. The Bogong moths swirling dangerously above my head, yet most people ignored them. The priest himself pleasantly full of the higher spirit that included pre-mass long necked lagers and brown hearty ale.

The moths were tame and just seeking each other out to form a swarm. When large enough a group would get ready for their long journey of hundreds of kilometres. Nature is so amazingly ordered and logical. In earlier times, the aboriginals, the original owners of this land used to feast themselves to a kingdom as well on these fat moths.

Another memory stuck through all those years, and probably getting richer as time passes, was a particular wedding that we went to. Again it was during summer heat. The venue was a golf course club house. A magnificent affair. The bride looked radiant, the groom suitably flustered and suited. The food all spread out on tables and fine linen. Prawns and salads, mignon steak and spinach sauté, flowing Chardonnay well oaked. As it was during those long gone years.

But then the Bogongs joined the party. Hundreds if not thousands of them. All swirling around. The overhead fans offering so treacherously the cooler air they craved for. The fans also slaughtered them. Those poor Bogongs now falling down in a spray of grey, gently landing on the food below as marital dust. No matter, the party was well on its way. Speeches were made and music flared up in between it all. The beverages had worked its magic. It was a great wedding. She was Croatian and he Australian from English background. They are still together as far as we know. A rare event, nowadays. They even had twin boys.

But here is the poem;  Christina Rossetti.

Those Shadows.

I shall not see the shadows.
I shall not feel the rain
I shall not hear the Nightingale.
Sing on as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
that doth not rise nor set.
Hapley I may remember
And hapley may forget.

Wedding Video and Funerals

March 19, 2013


The Wedding video and Funerals

When the house opposite us sold many years ago, the new owners had found the wedding video of the previous owners. It had been stuffed in a corner, hidden out of sight, abandoned in a built-in wardrobe on the top shelf. It was the only item left in the house by the previous owners.

Now, there was a story of pathos if ever there was. A lonely dust covered bit of marital biography all in glorious colour at its infancy. One wonders how many wedding videos are being abandoned and end up as landfill.

We knew the couple and shared many a social event. Towards the end, the parties and social contact petered out. There were stormy marital flare-ups, and it was rumored the husband was staying out late. He had many meetings to attend to, was busy working himself up the corporate ladder of a large liquid and powder soap empire of which he was promoted to team leader of the ‘washing machine powder’ division. Her washing, my wife often remarked, was always a ‘sparkling as new white’ with colours remaining ‘unbleached and remaining true’. We ended up buying large 9kg buckets of this amazing soap powder.

In our street, many of us were inclined to Green with some gravitating towards the Labor side of things rather than Liberal and definitely not National. We used to sneer at Royals and Pommies with a cricket and footie disdain thrown in for good measure. We avoided the dish washer and electric clothes dryers as proof of our concern for environment and wastage of coal fired electricity.

Apart from the husband of the soap powder opposite staying out working hard, there were also rumours of him ‘swinging’. His wife had even spoken dismissively about him. She was clearly unhappy. All of a sudden he had gone and she was left with the two children, a lawnmower and buckets of soap powder but also the house which had gone up in value enormously. It was the golden lining to an end of a cloudy and stormy marriage. She cheered up after that and even found a nice new man who was an expert and advisor on superannuation. He was always immaculately dressed in dark blue suits with a short well groomed beard and wearing glasses. Oddly enough he advised anyone within earshot to be well covered for eventualities such as deaths, especially funeral ‘eventuality’. He was definitely not a swinger.

I feel sure some feel drawn to the funereal art of embalming, coffin making and all that goes with death. They make the best of a reasonable and totally predictable event and appearances count in death as much as they do in life. The competition is ferocious and as is the case with spotting fees being paid to tow-truck operators so it is with spotting rewards for  imminent ‘deaths’ reporting, especially if the death is of someone eminent as well.

Some years ago, there was an outcry and public furor about competitors in different cars with screaming tyres arriving at the still warm but none-the- less fatally dead and thoroughly deceased person’s relative front door. Scuffles broke out. It spoiled many a good death. There was an inquiry and certain funeral firms were rebuked for trying to muscle into the industry of the dead with certain middle European and Lebanese groups being mentioned.

The one certainty we hold and know is that we ‘know’ we will finally end up not living anymore. It ought to be reassuring but oddly enough it is not. I have yet to hear of videos being found in vacant houses celebrating the end of life, the funeral. Why is that? We go through lengths to choose the coffin (the Mount Calvary model with brushed metal handles is really ‘in’ at the moment), the gladioli flowers, the venue etc, yet we rarely record that event. I have never had an invitation to watch a good funeral video.

Have you?

Weddings and Funerals

March 18, 2013

Of Weddings and Funerals.


A sure sign of getting older is when invitations to funerals exceed those of weddings. Both are good reasons for getting dressed up and going out and generally few of us would not accept the invitation to partake of rituals that are actually not as far apart as some might think. Both herald  an ending to something, although, it has to be admitted, that with weddings there are more opportunities to extend life than with a funeral, which for many are pretty final in the ‘being alive’ department.

It seems strange that for both these events we prefer to call in experts to conduct the social or cultural obligations that go with them, so that the event follows a reasonable course. With a wedding there are usual more cheerful obligations attached and the choice of venue and its associated rituals differ from a funeral. For a start there would be few weddings with a dearly departed in a coffin about, not would there be a gloriously blushing bride dressed in white around at funerals peeping into the heat proof glass panel at the crematorium watching someone’s last fiery journey…

While I can understand someone wishing to be part of conducting weddings and perhaps following one’s heart into that profession in becoming a wedding specialist or celebrant, advising brides on what to expect at weddings and life afterwards, I have some trouble of choosing to become a funeral specialist. Do some of us grow up and have burning ambitions to become an embalmer or coffin specialist measuring the dead, stretching them, dressing them, stuffing cotton padding in orifices, applying rouge to deadly pallor, cutting nails?

I have heard that after death some reflexes still occur. Dead snakes for instance have been known to strike multiple times and still inflict deadly poisons. You would have to harden yourself if a hand would still wag a finger, admonishing a lingering warning to all and sundry, ‘this is what happens’ when you don’t do as told..

The weddings on the other hand are infused with expectations of happiness, the possibility of a future are bandied about. They can also be more lucrative. There are all sorts of commercial aspects joined to weddings.  From wedding dress to lingerie to printed invitations, flower arrangements, the hire of cars, horses, ferries, prawn cocktails, table napkins, and the list is endless. Clever wedding specialist will soon detect the anxiety of many brides that no expense should be spared for this ‘one day’ of a lifetime. Cynics might well point out that in fifty percent of weddings the ‘one day’ often gets multiplied much to the delights of the wedding merchants.

Both events do often include the use of cars or even horses and invitations are sent to many people to attend and either celebrate, regret or rue the event. Actually in both events same feelings and sentiments might occur. A canny bride would be well advised to keep her wedding dress for the eventuality of future repeats.


Of course with coffins I haven’t heard of multiple uses. I do believe though that in the US one can actually rent a coffin to lower costs. It is a bit like renting those ‘rent a bin’ for household goods or building rubble to dispense with. The coffin usually can do about twenty or so bodies after which it becomes obvious, with all the bumps and scratches, that even coffins have a limited life-span.

Coffins have to be sled in and out of the hearse on its  carriage that have legs that click into place, but it has been known that beginners in the profession have not waited for the familiar sound of the click and  both coffin and temporary inhabitant ended up on the bitumen road. With the ‘rent a coffin’ the crematorium folk has to be alerted to remove the dearly departed so the coffin can be returned for future ‘clients.’

While taking the train to Sydney it never ceases to amuse me that at a place called Bargo some enterprising funeral enthusiast has erected a huge blue painted sign on the sloping tiled roof of a funeral parlor exhorting the train traveler to consider phoning them up if they are in need of a good funeral and solid coffin. In the backyard of that same place there are stacked ten high in an open shed with rusted corrugated iron roof, lots of coffins in different stages of their production, patiently waiting for those that have expired but not yet buried or cremated. That’s the beauty of life.

It pays to always remain positive.