You might have seen my obituary for an old friend in the Examiner a couple of weeks back (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/bernard-caine-a-man-of-principle-1-6664211 ). No, I have no gig there, I just sent it in because it was starting to look like Bernard's life would not be celebrated the way it should be.
But last Monday I was squeezed on a pew at the
very back of a Peel Cathedral packed with both his friends and the
island's self-selecting elite for his funeral. Maybe the latter
really wanted to pay respect to a genuine Manx giant, or maybe I
shamed them into taking a couple of hours out of their pointless
lives. Either way, they were there - which mattered to his family and
many genuine friends and might have tickled Bernard if only he could
have seen it.
I rarely go to funerals. Mostly of necessity, as I
have to work, but also because I find the religious variant in
particular unsatisfying. When the religious are so keen to stress
that death is not the end, just the terminus where the faithful get
their tickets stamped for Heaven, you might think they would make
more effort with the send off.
For all the pomp and loving use of
the Manx language and culture to whose revival Bernard devoted his
life, this one just made me glad I am neither a Christian nor a
pillar of the community. I am sure it was a moving experience and
satisfactory farewell for others there. But to use that awful
pseudo-therapeutic vernacular, I did not get closure and could not
It took yesterday and a family day out in Peel to
do that. This allowed me to retrace a routine Bernard and I had
throughout our shared time on the local papers and magazines –
walking out of the office and 100 yards or so up the street to a
modest home bakery for cakes, fresh air and mischief.
At 12 noon
daily you could have set your clocks by the pair of us ambling
amicably up Market Street, trading banter with the bakery staff, then
back down to 14 Douglas Street, stopping to look in every window or
swapping skeet with everyone Bernard knew, which was pretty much the
So I did that one last time; some buns from the
bakery, then a detour into a charity shop where, any Saturday after
we stopped working together and Bernard retired, I could inevitably
find him around noon on a chair in the basement perusing the books.
Finally, popping my head into a few of the emporiums which officially
sell antiquities, Manx historical tomes, local trivia …...or just
junk, but unofficially are little more than an excuse for ageing Govags to
gossip. In over 25 years I doubt if either Bernard or I spent more
than £5 in total in such retail disasters, though I have to admit
they did provide a steady stream of leads on obscure local historical
So that was my day. Sunshine, home made food, charity shop finds and
sore feet. Less than £10 spent in total but memories recalled of
time with Bernard which are beyond price.
A happy era reminisced on, summed up, and finally
laid to rest.
Now I really am ready to move on.
4 years ago