Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney
rozk

Rich tapestry and all that

Ritual is almost unbearably poignant when we invent it for ourselves. At the end of Andy's funeral today, his widow Julia got up with her two small children and walked to the coffin and pulled flowers from a vase and each in turn put their flower on the coffin - Julia had to lift the little boy to reach it - and then exited the chapel without looking back. Each of us then filed out of the packed pews and followed them - it was one of the most intensely moving moments of my adult life. And of course part of it comes from the intense metaphorical significance of flowers as something transitory and as a symbol of what about us fades.

Andy was a humanist with no belief in a future life - I think that is what makes this communal celebration of the transitory, which is what he asked for, so moving. It was also - given that this was a service which included the Kaddish - an act with a complex relationship with his Jewish roots. Normally you put a stone on the grave, as a token of eternal memory; he had us put, on to a coffin that was to be burned along with his body, flowers that wither and turn to straw.

The other great reminder of the transitory is seeing people you have not seen for thirty years and realizing that they have become old. As have you, as have the people you see every week, but you don't notice so much with them.

Life, of course, goes on.

And I went straight from the funeral tea to the Times Literary Supplement summer party, which is quite the grandest thing of its kind I ever go to, because it is a party full of academics and writers all being terribly smart at each other for about four or five hours until the wine and food run out and the last buses start to run.

Conversations I had in the time I was there included - a long discussion of the importance of defending the posthumour reputations of Kinsey and Colin Macinnes with a man who once mistook my criticisms of Macinnes for an ill-tempered feminist attack. My position is that there are some people you defend by going warts and all on their ass - you make a solid case for the prosecution in order to move to a consolidated defense. Macinnes was the patron saint of a particular sort of participant observer journalism in the UK - he was not always sexually scrupulous in his dealings with his subjects and I think you have to acknowledge that while praising him. Macinnes was the major influence on my life and work who died long before I ever got a chance to meet him and dammit! I am going to bitch about the areas where he was a jerk just as I do with Orwell.

The guy who wrote the really good book on feral children that I reviewed a while back - must post that on GR sometime - turns out to be writing a book about C19-20 anarchism and the connections with artistic circles. We chatted about the PRB connection - which is odd, come to think of it, because of course Macinnes had PRB connections as well - and I asked him about my red mahoganny walking stick with a hand clenched round a cylinder that could be dynamite. When I bought it there was a whole rack of different versions of this design and I have always wondered if they were a covert anarchist bomb-throwing sign. Michael had never heard of this, but agreed it was an interesting possibility - we have to talk more on this.

Lots of defending the Buffy book to sceptics, and getting praised for it by believers. Told the story about 'Same Time, Same Place' again - it is turning into a major anecdote in the way my stories do...

Got told by living national treasure Eric Korn that I need to write all of my memoirs while I am still here and if neccessary just put them up on the net as social history - the more we talked at random, the more he realized that I really am the person who has dated witches and maguses and a vampire and know more about a range of subcultures than is quite plausible. I explained to him which the good Anne Rice books were - ie the really mad ones - and sent him off to read Cry to Heaven. He also said goodbye when I talked of going off to eat with an awful pun that both combined a restaurant name with distinctly right-off language and assumed, correctly, that I knew a thoroughly reprehensible Broadway song from the thirties.

Met old acquaintance Rosemary for the first time in years and was told after a couple of minutes that she had to abandon me and go and talk to rightwing historian Paul Johnson. I wanted to have Eric Morecambe with me so he could say 'there's no answer to that.'

Realized yet again that most professional intellectuals are specialists and that I am a generalist and that I can talk to most of them about their fields with some vague intelligence and assurance and felt very smug indeed. I will end in failure and tiredness, no doubt, but there are times, and good parties are one of them, when I feel pretty cool.

And after the funeral, I needed to.
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