Madame Charlatan. Telling Misfortunes under a fog of musk and a cloud of fag-ash…….
Well, we finally buried Old Mother Charlatan. Of course, the funeral didn’t go completely to (her) plan. Recruiting Scouts to steer swan-shaped pedalos in procession across a boating lake, with a coffin in tow, was always going to be a big ask. But it’s what she wanted. Although she probably didn’t want to slide off the makeshift raft that her coffin had been placed on. Fortunately it stayed afloat and as the lake is only waist deep, the Scouts were able to retrieve it and get pedalling again without too much commotion.
I did feel sorry for them as they got to the other side, all sopping wet and smelling of stagnant water, ankle-deep in duck shit, hoisting my cantankerous (even in death) Mother onto their shoulders for the short journey to church.
The funeral directors had trouble getting her in the coffin in the first place. That wild head of hair that resembled a lobster basket and I’m sure was home to live crustacean, refused to yield, and I believe it took 3 of them and a hacksaw to persuade it to join her inside with the lid down.
But the service itself went somewhat smoother. As predicted, Bunty was unable to finish her ‘Black Magic Woman’ routine. The sight of her 84 year old legs in fishnets is a memory I’m hoping to erase, but she gave it her all and her confused expression and out-of-time steps became quite endearing. She wafted a colourful scarf around, did a twirl, but crumpled after an attempted high-kick, so medical attention was sought whilst the Vicar proceeded with a few words.
During the Vicar’s speech, you may remember I’d planned to host a little Palmistry session in the confessional box, just to help pass the time. I only did one reading, but did get to hear our local Publican confess to having used swept up peanuts in his complimentary snack offerings on the bar. He said he’d only done it once and probably ate most of them himself. So I forgave him.
The Fishmonger turned up as expected. We exchanged eye contact but there’s still nothing concrete to suggest he really is my father. He was clearly upset about my Mother’s passing, as was the Vicar who draped himself over her coffin once he’d finished the service, scratching his face on the pineapples she’d requested to adorn her casket instead of a traditional flower spray.
My dead husband also showed up as promised, but not until the Wake. Now that they have both passed over the life/death threshold, he can’t wait to get up to other-worldly mischief in revenge for her making his living life a misery. He will suffer more. My Mother in death will be in her element. He also forgets that she will take it out on me with hauntings galore. Nothing more spiteful than a spited spirit.
I’ve inherited all of my Mother’s Misfortune-Telling paraphernalia. Crystal balls, Tarot cards, Ouija board, you know, the usual sort of thing. There were also some other items. I’m not entirely sure how she incorporated them into her Misfortune readings; handcuffs, salad tongs and a scaffolding pipe, but she did have unconventional ways and a wide range of talents.
Whilst I work out what to do with it all, I will partake of that well-stocked drinks cabinet she also left me, raise a glass and say; ‘Farewell Mother’.
Putting the Shame back into Shaman