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I worry that when it’s my turn to be the chap in the box at the funeral, hardly anyone will bother turning up.
This upsets me muchly. I find myself writing secret lists of who might attend, then anxiously totting up the totals. Should the number of mourners seem shabbily sad, I do recounts, moving people from my "possibly attend" column to the "probables."
I also worry what people will forget to say in my funeral speeches. I don’t expect them to list each of my good points, (I’m a realist), but it would be disappointing if nobody remembered I was, for example, a leading hockey referee.
Are such funeral fears normal?
Boxed in, Roxborough
You’re really asking Uncle Norm if your worries are whacko?
In an eccentric manner, you’ve raised everyone’s ancient question: "Did I matter in the end — and will anyone remember me?"
Nobody likes the obvious answer: "Forget your fears. The dead you won’t check attendance lists or critique your eulogies."
I suggest a counterintuitive approach to heal your worries. Enjoy yourself creating lists of all the clowns you don’t want within sniffing distance of your last rites. People you’d happily see run over by your hearse. Next write a compendium of your most shameful, undiscovered deeds — the moments when you were truly awful. Then burn the list and rejoice that it won’t be the subject of speeches.
Pour yourself a Glenlivet. You’re only a touch crazier than the rest of us.
Dear Uncle Norm,
Trumpism was no accident, and its malign proponents need to be held accountable. I’m pleased a group of Democrat staffers have formed the "Trump Accountability Project." This brave team will create lists of all who helped elect Trump, were appointed to government positions by him, or made campaign donations.
Their names must be made known, because 70 million Americans were tricked into voting for Donald Trump. Yes, these deplorable voters lost touch with both decency and reality. But they are also the poor and badly educated, who were ripe for the Trump confidence trick.
Their best chance is a kind and thoughtful re-education. Big Tech analytics can be used to detect Trump voters, so that they can be sent on learning programmes that benefit them as individuals, and uplift public virtue.
Once they pass rudimentary "progressive thought" tests, they could be rewarded — perhaps with gold stars to wear — and returned to the civilised community.
If we are to make the USA fair and just, it’s vital we become united in our thinking. The world needs a choir whose better angels sing from the same song sheet.
Henry W. Shortfellow,
Foundation for Selected Electors
Hmnn. Next letter please.
Dear Uncle Norm,
I gather a Henry W. Shortfellow has written to you. Rest assured, The Trump Accountability Project is not a joke. They really are gathering in the names.
His "kind re-education" thoughts would lead straight towards a Dictatorship of the Correct. If Shortfellow lived in an earlier generation, he’d have believed Hitler Youth was a camping club that improved character.
Name withheld by request
I hope (probably vainly) these are the last Trump election letters I deal with. One of the savviest outside observers of US politics is Canberra’s former ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey. He invented a "Mary Milwaukee" to sum up the dilemma of that vital group genuinely torn between the two leaders.
"Mary wanted her President to have Biden’s demeanour with Trump’s policies," wrote Hockey. Exactly.
Dear Uncle Norm,
I’ve recently finished the autobiography of Anne, the beauteous Lady Glenconner, who was a maid of honour at the Queen’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret for the best part of three decades.
Weirdly, blueblood women of the noblest British families were honoured to do royalty’s truly personal jobs — like finding them fresh knickers and running their bath.
When Anne’s husband Lord Glenconner developed the frightfully exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique, he offered the princess a prized section free.
Her reply was something like "How nice. And there’s a house too?"
In her defence, he was a previous boyfriend.
Yes, the book is a telling insight into the boggling wealth and social disconnect of Britain’s aristocracy in the mid-20th century.
The book’s dark star is the Lady’s Baronet husband, Colin Tennant, an unlovely brute who unleashed frequent temper tantrums. Once when put into humble economy class, he lay in the aisle screaming until ejected from the aircraft. (British Airways eventually refused to fly him).
The Baron owned a bank, and was flamboyant with both his affairs and his money. But Lady Glenconner stuck with him for 54 excruciating years. When Tennant eventually expired, his family discovered M’Lud’s final stunt was leaving the lot to his dodgy manservant.
The term "bastard" seems inadequate.
- John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer