[at Gareth's funeral]
Matthew: Gareth used to prefer funerals to weddings. He said it was easier to get enthusiastic about a ceremony one had an outside chance of eventually being involved in. In order to prepare this speech, I rang a few people, to get a general picture of how Gareth was regarded by those who met him. Fat seems to be a word people most connected with him. Terribly rude also rang a lot of bells. So very fat and very rude seems to have been a stranger's viewpoint. On the other hand, some of you have been kind enough to ring me to tell me that you loved him, which I know he'd be thrilled to hear. You remember his fabulous hospitality... his strange experimental cooking. The recipe for "Duck à la Banana" fortunately goes with him to his grave. Most of all, you tell me of his enormous capacity for joy. When joyful, when joyful for highly vocal drunkenness. But joyful is how I hope you'll remember him. Not stuck in a box in a church. Pick your favorite of his waistcoats and remember him that way. The most splendid, replete, big-hearted, weak-hearted as it turned out, and jolly bugger most of us ever met. As for me, you may ask how I'll remember him, what I thought of him. Unfortunately there I don't have words. Perhaps you will forgive me if I turn from my own feelings to the words of another splendid bugger: W.H. Auden. This is actually what I want to say:
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.