Monday 28 January 2019

Part 1, the funeral

We set off from Gaydon at 8am and after a couple of hold-ups and a diversion arrived at the cemetery in Brighton about ten minutes late, twenty to one.

Liz Tuck was giving her talk on Michael to about thirty people in a Victorian chapel that had plaques all over the walls. It was sombre and reminded me of recitals held in churches. She had just mentioned family visits to Pett Level as we entered. She recalled various episodes in their family life and mentioned some of the people present.

Michael had been part of a string quartet since his days at Oxford Poly until his death and had even built the odd violin himself. Old architects from Cheltenham Art College were there, who had known him in Oxford as well and moved with him to London where we first met him and Wendy.

The ceremony had started with some Magic Flute - Michael loved Mozart - and Liz's talk was followed by the Queen of the Night; she said she used to make him laugh by trying to sing it.

Then Laurie spoke. An excellent dry, wry tribute to Mike as a Dad. I asked him later if he is still a stand-up comic in his spare time, and indeed he is. I'd forgotten that he lives in Lancaster now, where his wife Louise comes from. Arthur, his little boy is 6 now and stayed up north with his grandparents for the day.

Then an old college friend gave a talk and then there was some Beethoven, the minuet in A flat major for string quartet. Last of all the overture to the Marriage of Figaro.

There was a funeral person running the show but he only played the records and introduced the speakers, so hardly annoying at all. Michael's coffin was pale brown with golden handles and a spray of grey and mauve and pink flowers and foliage laid on top which Liz brought away with her. There was no mention of what was to become of him. He lay on a marble plinth with red curtains half-way round but they were never drawn and he was still there when we departed. Piers was there, in tears a lot of the time. We heard from him later that he had been living with them in Teddington for the past couple of years looking after them.

Part 2, the wake

The Wake at the Connaught pub, Hove Road, Hove.

We drove out of the cemetery down winding ways lined with mighty Victorian graves and monuments; and the lady in the phone took us to Hove and found us an excellent car park on the front called King Alfred's. A short polar walk north up Hove road took us into the front room of the pub, set with tables and smart food. We rested and ate and drank and looked around, trying to identify the other mourners.

We spoke to Piers and Laurie, to Liz of course, and to Jasia. Her sister Boo is dying and it was very sad to remember them both as little girls at Moorhouse Road. They are Michael's brother's girls who lived with their mother in the next basement flat to ours. We used to see them from time to time in later life but I don't think you will remember them. All three Tucks remembered you and sent their love and I sent yours. Before we left I arranged with Liz that I would go and visit Wendy when the weather's nicer (and I can face the trip). She said not to leave it too long because at the moment, Wendy can still recognise people and remember something about them for a while.

At half past three Daddy and I walked down to the front and took some snaps and touched the sea before setting off back to the Midlands. About 140 miles to Brighton we think, give or take.

Adieu, Mike, 17th April 1939-15th January 2019.