Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Way to go

My kind of funeral - humanist service, banana leaf coffin, The Stranglers as soundtrack and lots of good food and wine for mourners afterwards.
From the Evening Herald...


By Susan Daly

Thursday October 01 2009

SPEAKING well of the dead is easy. When TV chef Keith Floyd died, the tributes poured in as fast as a saucepan of milk boiling over.

Within hours of his death last month, the celebrity chefs whose careers his pioneering TV work made possible were keen to hand out their tributes to the man. He led the way, he was an inspiration, a one-off, a trailblazer, they said.

At his funeral yesterday, some of those chefs who were most effusive in their praise were notable by their absence.

Some quoted "work commitments". We're all aware that being a celebrity chef is a demanding job: they tell us often enough in their glossy autobiographies, magazine interviews, on TV chat shows.

But surely one could spare a morning to say goodbye to a man to whom -- by one's own account -- was one's hero. I doubt Keith would expect them to jump out of a cake of their own making to mark the event, but simply turning up would have been a nice gesture.

Then again, it's more likely Keith Floyd wouldn't give a toss who was at his funeral. His irreverent attitude to life would have forbidden him from doing a head count of the big names. He never stood for pomp and circumstance in life: why would he in death?

Whether cooking on a tin barbecue on a beach or taking a Frenchwoman's criticism of his recipes on a show with good humour (check out the clip on YouTube for a masterclass in self-deprecation), he never took himself too seriously.


Maybe -- for all the mistakes he made in his life -- Keith has something to teach us all, and not just those of us who are celebrity chefs.

At the end, it's not the awards and the career accolades that count. It's not how much money you leave behind in the bank or whether you got that promotion you thought you deserved.

It's about who stands over your grave and who is with you in the end.

At Keith's funeral, his daughter Poppy made a heartfelt speech about her dad's love of life, but also mentioned his reliance on alcohol and how that could make him selfish.

As a man who was nothing if not genuine and open about his failings as well as his successes, Keith would probably have appreciated her candour more than a thousand flowery tributes.

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