Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Monday was the best of bad days as friends and family joined to send Johnny off. We gathered a motley crew of bikes and rods at a staging point ahead of time to be sure we met the corsage but, by the time the corsage appeared from around the corner, the heat off the 45s engine was starting to bake the back of my thigh. The police outriders blocked traffic to let everyone waiting on bikes to join and we set off on our respectful 50 mile an hour procession, a speed that let the cold take hold of my bones. The reality ate away at me that this was the final ride out with a friend. I was thankful for the wind whistling behind my KDs making my eyes stream in a proper manly fashion. We picked up more bikes as we got closer to the crematorium and, as I later found out, the 300 strong crowd fell silent on hearing the distant rumble of the honour guard. Most of them will never know the feeling of riding in a pack but I think they were a bit awed by our arrival.
The humanist ceremony centered on the man and his life rather than a religion he himself did not subscribe to. I faltered and wobbled through words I previously wrote here as a blog entry. It was hard to do but I was glad I did it. We listened to music he listened to and then filed out. The ride home was more the speed we used to ride together as I chased a hotrod part way back to the wake; the part that he was stuck behind traffic that is.
The wake was busy and up-beat with biking friends from England and Europe meeting family, colleagues and school friends to share happy tales of a man that was obviously much loved. I made a play list of music he listened to and played it loud enough so that it wasn't totally lost in the background. And then we drank and talked, talked and drank, drank and talked a little more. It felt good, it felt healthy. When the wake finished we went for a drink and a talk followed by an Indian and then we went down the local for a bit of a talk over a drink- or was it the other way round.
To a man everyone agreed that if there was such a thing as a good funeral this had been it.