Monday, 17 March 2008
Bermudas and a Hearse
We said our goodbyes to Sergio on Saturday at the godforsaken village on the Plain of Lombardy where he lived. The whole place is permeated by the smell of cowshit, drifting over from the huge sheds just outside the village where some 500 head of cattle, who never see the light of day, are kept. We went to pay our respects to him, laid out in his house. He had often been laid out in his house before but never in a big box, surrounded by candelabra, with a chiller running to keep him fresh and a bloody suit and tie on. At a quarter to three the undertakers arrived, asked people to leave, closed the shutters and then sealed the coffin. Prior to this however they spent a couple of minutes taking the suit off and dressing him as he had requested: in a pair of his favourite Bermudas, a particularly hideous Hawaiian shirt and mirror shades. They then loaded the coffin in the back of the hearse - quite like the one above, but even more Italian with an illuminated crucifix on the roof, and (inside) uplighters, downlighters and, most probably, sidelighters as well and hidden exterior loudspeakers. It then moved off, very slowly, with the priest leading the way kitted up with a radio mike chanting a rosary which the hearse broadcast to the mourners following behind. What technology! After the funeral service we again went through the same routine for the trip to the cemetery. All the shops had their shutters down as a mark of respect. Bar owners in the village could be seen openly weeping, both for the loss of Sergio and the accompanying and significant loss of income.