The great British comedian Rowan Atkinson put out a live special on video years ago, and it's still around as a DVD. One of the sketches he performed is the wedding from hell, viewable at that link. He plays three men who in their own ways wreck havoc with a man's wedding day: the minister, the best man, and the father of the bride. It's horrible but hilarious, and as such, it inspired the following from my devious mind... one of the least successful (and tactful) eulogies ever done. Enjoy!
“Thank you, Reverend McTavish, for that kind introduction, and before I begin, I might say that I wouldn’t want to play against you in a poker game. I’m astonished at how you’re managing to keep a straight face through all of this. You must let me know how it’s done sometime.
Well, hello, everyone. It’s very nice to see such a gathering on this sombre day when we gather together to remember the departed. When I first heard that Geoffrey was dead, I wondered if it might be a mistake or a miscommunication. Of all the people you expect to die early on in life, Geoffrey Buchanon was certainly not on those lists. I would have expected that chain smoking incompetent nitwit Bruce Palmer would meet an early end, personally. Oh, hello, Bruce! Didn’t see you there.
Those of us who knew Geoffrey will remember the man with the taste for the good life. Sometimes that taste for the good life could be best conveyed in a glass of fine brandy or the company of friends. Other times that could be expressed through one of his favourite activities. And so I find it ironic that one of his favourite activities led to his untimely death.
I was surprised to be asked by his wife Deirdre to give a eulogy. I mean, of course, Geoffrey and I read law together at Oxford, but we went our separate ways, only saw each other on occasion. Surely there was someone else more suited to give him a proper send off? Perhaps one of the people who were there with him when he left this life would have been more suitable. Though given the circumstances of how he went, I can see why Deirdre might have wanted someone else. Well, no bother.
Geoffrey was the sort of barrister who’d give the legal profession a bad name, as if we didn’t have a bad name as it was. He wasn’t above overcharging a client if he thought he could get away with it. He would find any nook or cranny in case law if it could work to his advantage, even if that meant throwing some poor chap under a bus, or stealing candy from a baby in a pram. Which, incidentally, he once did as a gag. That mother was not pleased at all. Geoffrey was the sort of fellow who’d sell his mother’s urn if he thought he could turn a profit. You can imagine the hostilities with the rest of his family when he did precisely that ten years ago.
You know, I rather thought that if Geoffrey were to go to the grave early, it might well have been in a, how do I say this? A delicate situation. Perhaps in the arms of his dear wife Deirdre, having a heart attack just at that proverbial happy moment. If you have to go, that’s a good way to meet your maker. Perhaps it might have been in the arms of one of his mistres... oops, forget I said that. Completely slipped my mind. I’m just saying that I would have expected that to be his fate. A good way to go. As opposed to the way he went.
When I think of Geoffrey, I always go back to those days in Oxford. There was this one occasion where the six of us went off to the Riviera on a spring break. We hit the bars, all the posh night spots. Chatted up the girls, brought them back to our rooms. One evening, there I was, having a lovely time between the sheets with a girl named Bianca. Or was it Camilla? Anyway, that’s not the point, and I suspect Reverend McTavish is a bit wary of my telling such stories at a funeral. She and I were having a lovely time getting to know each other in the best of ways, and all of a sudden there was this wailing scream out in the hall. It was this unearthly sort of scream of terror, nothing like I’d heard before.
I managed to get my trousers on, stepped out, and there was Geoffrey, running down the hall, panic on his face and a look of sheer horror in his eyes. He yelled at me at the top of his lungs. Michael! She was a guy!!! That’s what he said. You see, it turns out the girl he took up to his room had a little something extra, if you follow. Once he saw that, he cleared right out of there, poor sod. Deirdre, did he ever tell you that story?
Well, of course the rest of us never let him live that one down. For years on afterwards, we’d ask how Alexandra was doing. Or was that Alex? He’d have this look about him that made me think he wanted to strangle all of us.
Geoffrey was a man with a love for life. He loved his children, all seven of them. Even the ones you didn’t know about, Deirdre. Oh, wait. Was I supposed to say that out loud? Well, long story short, Geoffrey has five other kids with three other women. I see one of them here in the congregation this morning, but maybe it’s better that you get all that sorted out with her instead. I’ll let you guess who she is.
When we think about Geoffrey’s death, and about how manifestly unfair it seems that he’s left us so soon, we might feel it’s unjust. Geoffrey was doing what he loved to do. Parachuting with his skydiving club. It was something he did regularly through the year, something that he found pleasure in. Not quite as much pleasure as with one of his mistresses, or with that prostitute in Brazil, but I’d better not bring up that particular incident.
No, I’ll just say that we could have never seen what happened coming. Neither could Geoffrey. I wonder how he must have felt, knowing the parachute and the backup failed, plunging to earth, faster and faster. Did he have regrets? Did he pass out? Or was he conscious all the way down? Could he have known that his final point of impact would be in the backyard of a convent? Did he realize the amount of emotional trauma it would inflict on those nuns, having his inner organs splatter all over the tulip beds? How would he have felt about being peeled off the ground with spatulas?
Well, goodbye, Geoffrey. You never lost your zest for life. At least until you collided with the ground at God knows how fast a velocity. What a rotten way to go, old chap. You might well have been the sort of chap who, if you were drowning, we would have thrown you an anchor. You might have been a no good cheat, an incorrigible jackass, a womanizing oaf, and a backstabbing wanker, but you were our backstabbing wanker. Look at it this way. At least now that you’re dead, your wife and your mistresses won’t have a chance to kill you.”