A Service To Remember

Trip Start Aug 01, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, August 13, 2012

Yesterday, Sunday 12th, was a complete washout. I managed to watch the Super Heavyweight Boxing Final (well done Anthony Joshua!), but soon had to go back to bed, only getting up 2 or 3 times to rush to the toilet to throw up. I was in a cold sweat all day and only really managed to recover just as the Olympic closing ceremony was under way. Why? Because the previous day we had had a memorial service for my Dad.

Six years after Dad's passing, we held a service and reception, mainly as a form of closure for the people who hadn’t been able to attend the funeral back in Jamaica. It was an odd day for me, because a lot of people whom I hadn’t seen in years showed up at the service/reception. Mostly these were friends of the family who were part of our lives for a set period of time. Typically of Jamaicans, everyone expects you to remember who they are. The day soon became an embarrassing guessing game of "Yu 'no who I am?" (You don’t know who I am, do you?) And Jamaicans never give you clues! You just have to guess.

Example, I was outside having a cigarette talking to someone, when somebody pulled up in their car, yelling out the window, “Lord mi God! Is dat Big George?...Yu no ‘no who I am!” (My word! Is that Big George? You don’t know who I am, do you?) There’s me thinking, actually, you’re right, I don’t know who you are. However, the person I was with acted like they were great mates, so when the driver went off to park his car, I flat out asked who he was. I was told “Man, dat is Godfather’s son!” Forgetting that he didn’t look like a Corleone for a moment, “Ok, but what’s his name?” – “Lord, mi no ‘no, yu ‘no!” (I don’t know!).

Eventually I got tired of this and despite trying to be nice, I had to put these people in their place. The reason why it was all so difficult was that our family have lived in various parts of London over the years, and in my early years we lived in Peckham (that’s right, Del Boy country). However, we left there when I was 7 years old and I hadn’t seen any of these people since. That meant that I had people coming up to me saying “Who am I? I bet you can’t guess who I am!” and me thinking “You’re right, I haven’t seen you in 40 years! How am I supposed to know who you are?”

Despite it being a solemn occasion, I had to laugh at the vicar of the church. She thought, rightly, that the service was due to start at 4pm. She was a little put out that we turned up at 3:15 and there were already one or two people at the church waiting for the service. I had to explain to her that invitations had been sent out with the time not in GMT, BST, but in WIT ie West Indian Time. Jamaicans just don’t arrive anywhere on time, hence the invitation gave a time that was half an hour earlier than the real time...and the service still started late!

Nevertheless, the service itself was very good; I was very nervous about having to give a eulogy, but once that was out of the way and I was able to relax, the service was actually quite moving. The church the service was held in has a bit of history in our family. Not only was it where Madisonpaige, my niece, was christened last year, but it was also where my parents were married almost 50 years ago!

The reception was also excellent. Sallie, my sister-in-law, was the caterer and what a great job she (and her helpers) did. Catering West Indian food to a group of picky Jamaicans is never easy, but she did really well. My cousin, Elaine, also did us and herself proud by setting up the hall – especially the flower arranging. The music was the pièce de resistance, the DJ, old friend and Carl Cox lookalike, Honza Noel, came round to pick out some of my Dad’s records to play that night – I helped him to look through the records, which I hadn’t had a proper look at in years – it was a veritable treasure trove of black music. I’m now thinking that I need to buy a record player when I go back to Spain.

However, the reason why yesterday was a washout was after the reception. Honza, Jason and myself went out to a local pub and started on the whisky chasers. I must remember never to drink whisky again. Coincidentally, after a day in a Jamaican ‘atmosphere’, we ran into a reggae singer outside a pub, Errol Dunkley, singer of ‘OK Fred’. My Dad would have been made up!
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Àngels on

Really nice...I can imagine your feelings going throught your dad's records ;-)

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