I didn’t need to see the picture. I saw it in my mind the solitary figure, decked in black, sitting in the ancient chapel, masked and distanced and silenced as she watched the physical remains of her husband of seven decades, being lowered into a hole in the ground beneath the stone floor. Somehow it was a picture like no other, which epitomises the dreadful end of an era.
My concerns were not for her. Even in this enforced humiliation she retained her dignity. I have no doubt that her spirit would rise above all that. Nor were my concerns for the thousands of others who have had to face the same indignity in the loss of those they loved, over the past year, including some who are close friends. My concerns were for the ones who devised the plan and wilfully manipulated a compliant population in adopting, almost without question, the foolishness of the charade.
I would not like to have been Boris Johnstone or his advisors or the other leaders falling in his train, watching on their screens, following the spectacle, aware of their role in forcing the sovereign, who had seen out thirteen prime ministers, to endure this pitiful spectacle. I wonder if the cruelty of it even crossed their minds or if they ever felt any shame. I suspect not, but it was a shameful thing that they had done.
The triple lock, enforced mask wearing, distancing and the banning of singing at services of all kinds strangles the very life from such occasions and in the face of death makes it especially bitter. It could only be the coldness and cruellest of hearts not to see what this means for a grieving relative. That moment in time, that would never be recovered or retrieved: when they most needed their close family to be close, when they needed that comforting arm around them, when they needed to see that reassuring sympathetic and familiar face, when they so needed to be reminded of the truth that death is not the end and be able to sing, with the congregation, the songs of faith. That moment senselessly and cruelly taken from them.
The government should have gone the whole hog, banned all funerals, instructed local authorities to dispose of the dead as they saw fit and put out a nice thing on zoom.
Maybe they don’t feel any shame, but I do.