LAST year I attended five funerals, and have yet another one this week ... but the thing was, each and every funeral had more or less the same modus operandi.

The same funeral parlour for the service followed by a visit to the same crematorium, and then onwards to the same local hotel, which meant a repetition of homemade soup and steak pie. (Not that I was complaining!)

However, at the last funeral, as I was walking into the now-familiar funeral parlour, one of the men dressed in black smiled when he saw me heading his way.

“Oh, it’s you again hen.”

I smiled back and nodded at his now-familiar face as he added: “I think we’ll be getting you a season ticket!”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his attempts at humour as I replied.

“Well, with my attendance, I hope I at least get priority seating!”

An hour or so later, a few of us were standing in the familiar foyer of the crematorium, idly passing the time whilst waiting on the funeral cars arriving, when we got chatting to one of the attendants.

“Must be an interesting job working here, Robert?” (His name was on his shiny silver badge)

“Oh aye, I love it,” he enthused. And for the next 15 minutes Robert regaled us with tales of his working life at the crematorium.

According to Robert, whilst overseeing a funeral last summer, there had been an incident that caused uproar during the sombre service.

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Six close family and friends of the deceased had agreed to be pallbearers and carry the coffin from the hearse, Robert said, setting the scene.

“People don’t realise that it’s a difficult job and requires a lot of concentration,” he explained.

Apart from a few sniffles, the mourners were silent, music was playing and the pallbearers were finally in position to enter the chapel, he told us.

In unison they stepped their way slowly down the aisle, shoulder-to-coffin, step by step, by step.

However, one of the pallbearers, in an obviously ill-fitting suit, was so busy concentrating on this important task that he had no clue his trousers were slowly slipping down.

According to Robert, just as the coffin was a few feet away from the catafalque, the poor guy’s trousers dropped to his ankles in front of the captive audience.

Sniffles quickly turned to sniggers and then to uproar.

Another mourner was quick off the mark and wedged into the shoulder position to take over and carry the heavy coffin.

The poor guy’s mortified wife shot out her seat and attempted to pull his trousers back up.

However, no amount of pulling and tugging could get his trousers back up over his hips as she was all fingers and thumbs and couldn’t undo the borrowed belt.

“He had to waddle like a penguin to the toilet.”

Robert was in stitches at his own story, and as he now had his own captive audience, he decided to let the cat out of the bag with yet another tale.

“Last week’s funeral was an absolute cracker.”

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We wondered what was coming next.

“The service was going like clockwork until the minister announced: ‘David has left a video message which we will now play on the screens.’”

According to Robert, two large screens either side of the coffin flickered on and Dead David appeared as large as life.

“Good afternoon everyone and thank you for coming to see me off.”

At this point, everyone – not least the minister – thought it was a bit spooky seeing him come to life, but that it was a lovely touch. Until…

“Well, Billy, my son.”

All eyes focused on Billy (or the back of his head).

“We both know, ‘son’, that you and I never really got on,” Dead David’s cheery face beamed from the screen.

“And maybe that’s because you are not my son.”

Gasps and nudges broke out all-round the chapel whilst the nervous minister didn’t know if he should stop the video or carry on as Dead David continued.

“And as for you, Thomas, my son,” he chuckled.

“You are my son, and a greedy one at that.”

All eyes shifted to Thomas, and the silence was deafening as the mourners and the minister anxiously wondered what was coming next.

“So, all my money you thought you were getting your hands on is right here in this coffin with me and about to go up in flames.”

The curtains slowly closed as Dead David’s coffin disappeared – the poor minister had now given up the ghost and was shaking his head in disbelief.

But Dead David had the final word.

“I’ve put some cash behind the bar so you can all have a toast to my good self. Cheers!”

Now, I don’t know if Robert’s tales were true or exaggerated, but it seemed to me that family secrets which should have gone to the grave (or the incinerator) still had a way of exposing themselves!