Flying by the seat of my pants…

Oh what a week!!

After all the stress and anxiety of last week’s weddings and end of school parties, this week was meant to be quiet and relaxing, with no weddings in the diary and only one funeral.

I was completely exhausted on Sunday evening and crept off to bed early (at about 5pm to be exact). I probably forgot to tell you about the Flower Shop Summer party at Southlands Barn on Saturday night, but there’s nothing better than dancing like a wild banshee to ease the mind and settle the soul.

Pulborough Flower Shop Summer party

My night was less than peaceful though, I woke with an horrendous pain beneath my ribcage. Maybe my wild dancing was too much and I was having a heart attack, but unless my heart had dropped below my stomach, I was fairly sure that wasn’t it and after refusing to call an ambulance I did agree to call the doctor’s surgery first thing and book myself an appointment.

John took the day off and helped me open up the shop as I sat doubled over in pain, pointing to things and where they should go. I should add here that when I’m in pain I get really RATTY and if anyone should even suggest that I go and lie down, never mind go to HOSPITAL, they are likely to get an earful or worse the CLAIRE- STARE!

I went to the docs. It was possible I had gall or kidney stones and I was booked in for further tests. I took some painkillers and went back to the shop, but by midday I was fed up of everyone telling me how ill I was I decided to go home for a little lie down, as I had to be well enough to handle the funeral which was scheduled for 2pm.

Luckily, I woke just before 2pm when John popped in for the van keys. You wouldn’t believe it but THEY (those very capable people in the shop) had this silly idea that they could do the funeral without me and were planning to sneak off without waking me!!!!

You’re probably wondering what ‘doing a funeral‘ actually means. The funeral flowers had been done in advance and had gone off with the funeral director but that’s not all. Funeral ceremonies at the crematorium are pretty much back to back, all week long and each funeral ‘slot’ lasts about 20 minutes, so you can’t be late. Once the service has finished and friends and family start to exit through the front doors, I have literally minutes to dismantle the coffin spray, re-arrange flowers into small posies and get them into vases, before putting them in the van, whizzing off, overtaking the funeral procession in order to get to the venue where the wake is being held and setting up, before the mourners to arrive. All invisibly of course.

Well, it was 1.50pm when John and I left the shop in Pulborough, heading for the crematorium in Chichester, some 17 miles away!

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out how fast we’d have to go to arrive in time for the start of the funeral. We had an extra 20mins up our sleeves, but even then we were cutting it fine.

I’d also offered to give my sister-in-law a lift to Aldi which was just round the corner from the crematorium, so there were three of us and a load of large shopping bags, crammed into the cab of the huge van given to us by the insurance company while our little van was being repaired. John was driving under stress, I was wincing both in pain and in reaction to not having control of the van ( I always like to be in control) as John was getting more and more frustrated and concerned. Michelle (my sister-in-law) was trying to melt the ice which was starting to form on the windscreen, from the frosty atmosphere, by remarking on the view from the passenger window and what she might buy for dinner, neither of which was working. John just drove faster in case Michelle started singing.

We arrived at the crem with a minute to spare, after throwing Michelle and her shopping bags out on to the road. Music was playing and people were starting to emerge from the building.

John and I were like Ninjas, running in behind the mass of people who were slowly moving out. The flowers were quickly broken down and vased before being carried out placed carefully in the back of the van. The doors were slammed shut and we sped off like we’d just robbed a bank.

We arrived at Goodwood Aerodrome for the wake at roughly the same time as the family who were extremely gracious, excusing my sweaty handshake and inviting us to stay for they fly-by which had been arranged in memory of the deceased who had been a pilot.

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