Saturday, January 20, 2007

On The Nature of Friendships, Edith Piaf and the Foreign Legion

Each day in January I have visited a friend of mine in hospital. It's not a huge journey, ten miles door to door, and the gossip factor alone makes the couple of hours fly by. She smokes, and I suppose the most important thing I do is wheel her outside for a fag or three. In the last week I have wheeled her fellow-smoker in the next bed, outside too. Smokers are such communal creatures.
Since last week we have been planning my friend's funeral. As a safety precaution. Neither of us do messy, unplanned, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute events. We have the CofE order of service from the internet, and have been selecting readings, prayers and hymns. Now we are moving into the "event management" side of things. You know, does she want her coffin carried out by the men in her family, or by the funeral director's staff; does she want religious or secular music to leave the church by; in what font is the order of service to be printed, and does she want photographs included; where are we having the traditional cup of tea, cake and sandwiches afterwards... So many details, so much time to decide.
We have decided that she wants to leave the church to the sounds of "River Dance" by Bill Whelan, having seen the show in London and like the rest of the world, stunned by the vitality and sheer physical joy of the human body and spirit. So arriving back from the hospital tonight I clicked onto and listened to the tune again. Perfect. Fitting. And then something happened that makes me just love the world wide web.
On the same playlist as River Dance, is Edith Piaf, singing Non Je Ne Regrette Rien. An absolute classic. But what are the lyrics? Click onto google, and up pops wikipedia, explaining everything. It's the unoffical anthem of the French Foreign Legion. Oh man, how cool is that. I shall tell my friend this tomorrow. For who can resist the allure of a man in uniform.

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