I was so pleased to be involved with Deb Wilkes's event for this year's Death Awareness Week at The Countess Mountbatten Hospice.
Christmas can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones in the last 12 months. As other families get together, others face the realisation that there is one less place to set at Christmas lunch, fewer presents under the tree.
As performers, we're acutely aware of our relationship with our audience. It may look like we're engrossed in our performance, but all performers develop a 'radar' that keeps them updated on the mood and energy of the people watching the. Stand-up comedians do this too; they'll know that a particular joke "won't work" or throw in one that will. It's a give and take scenario; when an audience is 'with you', the sympathetic exchange of energy and enjoyment is nothing short of magical.
Every year in May, Dying Matters promote a fantastic range of events and activities around the country. The aim is to get people talking about dying, death and bereavement and making plans for their end of life; known as Dying Matters Awareness Week.
So, when Debs Wilkes a palliative care nurse from MacMillan nurses approached me to participate in an event they were organising; I jumped at the chance.
Throughout the years we've been singing for funerals, no pattern for bookings has emerged. However, over the last months, one has emerged - bookings for the middle Friday of the month.
It's always a bit of a decision when two of us are booked for a funeral in London as to whether we drive or catch the train/Tube. This funeral was in South Norwood, within a three minute trot of Norwood Junction, and (according to Google) it was exactly the same time for the journey by car and by train. So, we decided to be green, leave the car at home, and both of us would travel by train.
Which worked fine until Balham. 'Some careless person (not my exact words) has driven into a rail bridge, and that branch of the line has been closed. Everybody off', and one hour to the start of the service (thanks goodness we'd left enough time - hopefully).
As I sat last night watching the memorial services from Belgium and Westminster Abbey, it set me thinking about how right it is that we mark this occasion suitably. The next 4 years will bring many memorial events to the forefront of life in the 21st century.
This lead me to revisit my family history and be thankful for all I have and am. I thank God that my grandfathers both survived WW1, and father survived WW2 - otherwise I would not be here to write this. Rather than maudlin musings on mortality, my thoughts turn to the changes that have taken place since '"The wars to end all wars".
Communication springs to mind - imagine:
There are many men and women to remember across the world, and interestingly their stories to find and discover over the next few years. I look forward to the exploration and the opportunity we will have to learn and discover our pasts.
Watching the news this morning prompted me to put my name down to purchase by way of donation, one of the 888,246 ceramic poppies which are being 'planted' in the moat of The Tower of London, with the last to be put in place on 11th November this year. These poppies represent a life of a servicemen who died during the conflict. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28654710
Purchasing a poppy seems very important as a mark of respect and remembrance (I don't think my back could take 4 hours of 'planting' them into the moat - they are seeking volunteers to do just that, though I may reconsider this later in September - hopefully I'll be fitter).
Now back to my family history research.
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