“It was a pity that the deceased never wrote his memoirs”. Have you not heard these sentiments at the graveside?
Well, they can’t say that at mine! On top of the Ghanaian national flag draping my coffin, there should be room for my books, possibly my clarinet – the saxophone will be playing – and most certainly my ventriloquist chimpanzee, Charlie. Two international caps will drape their tassels over the flag. There will be some Muslims in the gathering recalling my confrontation with Usama bin Laden in Pakistan; some Jews recalling their erstwhile Jewish brother in America; some Humanist children’s panel members who knew me as their Reporter in southern Scotland; perhaps a few ex-prisoners who knew me in prison; some Lancastrian Anglican relatives and a host of friends who have lost their faith but ponder my fate at this moment in time. Three knives, unsheathed, will shine in the shaft of light descending on this laden coffin. And if I am lucky a bouquet of tropical flowers might just arrive in time, from a former African Head of State.
A son of the manse, missionary, educational social worker, Regional Reporter to the Children’s Hearings, sportsman, musician, ventriloquist, author, poet, film script writer and writer in residence in Dumfries Prison, International Research Panellist, and Camp Manger in Pakistan. Above all else, father to Fiona and Laura and husband of Jocelyn.
Chaucer told the original Miller’s Tale, a bawdy tale if ever there was. Could my tale mirror his? I write it for the next generation to understand the massive changes which have taken place in my lifetime; mostly for the better. But life is more than a collection of facts.
It’s the humour and confusion, the doubts and the convictions which lead us to explore our circumstances. We have a freedom to explore, to assess possibilities and to respond appropriately. Sometimes when acting spontaneously, I find my laces become untied. The consequences become unpredictable.