Monday, June 03, 2013

Last words

My last post, as anyone who still reads this blog will know, was an appreciation of an old friend. And I was glad (you can tell I sang this yesterday, but that's another story) to learn that there was an obituary * of Alastair Fulton in the Herald last week. And that is where the gladness began and ended.

Previously I have bemoaned inadequate funeral services as being unworthy of the deceased and unhelpful to those who loved them. Now I find myself bemoaning what I see as a sadly inadequate piece of writing, let alone a reminder of someone I knew. There seems to be a tradition (is there?) that newspaper obits have to be dry and factual, covering a linear model of a life that resembles nothing so much as the "thank-you" speech at the end of a charity event: don't forget the lady who does the flowers or your life won't be worth living. That sort of thing. And as far as that goes, if indeed that is the requirement for a respectable newspaper, then as far as I'm concerned respectable newspapers have indeed had their day.

And that may be a very personal reaction to a piece that some of my friends thought was good. They perhaps had the advantage of hearing more of the real ABF at the funeral I sadly missed. What is not merely personal preference, however, is my despair that someone so linguistically talented and knowledgable should have been commemorated in such weak syntax. From memory, lest I come over all red pen, I shall recall only the strange use of the pluperfect verb in the opening sentence and the misrelated participle in the penultimate one. ABF would not have missed these.

So, ABF, this post is for you. Missing the certainty of acerbic comment on my own epistolary infelicities, I offer this last thought. You were much, much more than a mere list of activities could convey. Pervixisti indeed.

*Of course, obits like this can also be read online, but the ethos remains...

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