Sunday, August 03, 2008

Random thoughts

Life goes on. Little brother* and I went to the Registrar's office in Cupar today. You'd be surprised just how many forms have to be filled in before you can be officially dead. It's an expensive business too - copies of the death certificate cost £8.50 each and you need lots to prove to various insurance companies, banks and other worthy institutions that there's no point in bombarding someone with junk mail anymore.

Anyway, the registrar's office. This was an hour of passing boredom whilst a well-meaning assistant registrar made odd noises of sympathy as she typed in the information from my parents' birth and marriage certificates before printing out the final sheet. The two birth certificates, dating from 1936 and 1940, are wonderful pieces of art, complete with stamp duty paid by means of an actual 1d stamp. The marriage certificate is a bit more modern, dating from as recently as 1961, but it's still a beautifully hand-written record.

By contrast, there's nothing special at all about the death certificate. It's printed by a cheap HP laser printer on expensive watermarked paper, but there's none of that sense of pride and workmanship. Ah well, that's progress I suppose.

I'm either a completely heartless bastard, or I haven't really processed the whole situation properly yet. Either way, I'm remarkably sanguine about becoming an orphan. We've been having endless meetings with important people, my brothers**, sister and I, several with our lesbian minister**** and I can't help myself from lowering the tone by making slightly inappropriate jokes. Something about the gallows humour of the crime writer coming to the fore, perhaps. I'm sure I'll be miserable later.

Anyway, the registrar's office. It wasn't much of a place, really. Just a small room with a desk and a couple of uncomfortable chairs for us to sit in. There were a few leaflets on a side table, but other than that no decoration at all, save a large poster advertising the new wedding facilities available to lucky Fifers (and outsiders who might be mad enough to come here to wed).

According to this poster it's now possible, and indeed legal, to be married on the beach (inadvisable given the weather around here), in a castle (except there aren't any worth much celebrating in the Kingdom) or at the football (if Val McDermid and Gordon Brown let you onto the hallowed turf at Raith Rovers).

I couldn't help noticing, however, that this singular celebration of the diversity of marriage vows had been strategically placed to hide (unsuccessfully) a large crack that ran from floor to ceiling. There's a sense of hope for the future of any relationship forged in these parts.

*who I think I have said before is bigger than me.
** or 'bothers' as the Dundee Courier printed it in their half page article on the front page last Tuesday.***
*** in which they helpfully gave my parents' full address, so any thieves will know where to come in the next few months. Still, it was a nice article.

**** it's true, but probably for another post.



Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Hey, if jokes work for you, they work for you. Who knows what you've processed for now... It's the quiet moments, in the routine of life, when you would have thought about picking up the phone (if you had one) or dropping in to say hi on your way to the airport or wondering what the holiday plans are that it will hit you.

And there will be plenty of time to be miserable then, as you say. Sometimes we're stronger in the moment, when things need to be done. It's when you go home you may need some time, and if you do, there's no shame in it.

August 06, 2008 3:24 am  
Blogger highlandwriter said...

Sandra has brought up some very important things. I'm not sure I can add much to that.

Hang in there. Your blog friends are thinking of you during this unimaginable time.


August 07, 2008 12:33 am  
Blogger angie said...

There's no right way to deal with loss, so do it however you need to. Must be a bit surreal to sift through all the weird legal bits, though. If you can find humor in the bureaucracy, then go for it.

Hang in there, James.

August 07, 2008 4:38 pm  
Anonymous norby said...

It's true-right now you're doing what has to be done. Later, when it seems like things are back to 'normal', that's when grief tends to really hit people.

Having said that, it's been seventeen years since my aunt died and I still occasionally break down at the oddest times. You just don't know what little something will remind you. Life is peculiar that way.

August 07, 2008 10:09 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

I don't realy know what to say, other than hang on in there James.

It appears to me that you have a strong and supportive family, and I know you have many friends on here, so youve got your choice of shoulders should you need a spare one.

Take Care

August 08, 2008 9:15 am  

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