It must have been a long, hard couple of weeks for the Grim Reaper – first Lemmy, then Bowie, and now Alan Rickman.
(I am imagining the poor bony sod with Lemmy’s gravelly sweariness down one ear, Alan Rickman being sinister and growly down the other, and trying to work out which David Bowie he’s got hold of – but there we go.)
It is an odd thing, but I have been much possessed by throughts of mortality of late – not my own, I’m not that old, but in general.
I think I have a fairly solid attitude to death. When it’s your time, you go, and that’s all there is to it. Sometimes it’s fair, and sometimes it’s not fair, but there is no raging against the dying of the light. We have not that choice.
We do have a choice about how those of us who remain, go on. Whether we love, and remember the good things, or whether we try and stop ourselves at the moment when we lost part of our lives. And I think, I hope, I will choose the first.
I remember very clearly speaking at the Wascally Woyalist’s memorial service, at Veryan church on a bright and breezy spring day with the rooks thrown like rags over the high trees. (Bloody cold in that church it was, as well.) I remember the sunlight being behind me, though there wasn’t much warmth in it, and I remember being very passionate that we should not forget Ensign Crowhurst of the 32nd Cornwall Regiment of Foot, but nor should we make him into a thing he was not. He was who he was – he was kind, and funny, and intelligent. He was also useless with a paintbrush, fiercely conservative, and prone to farting in the freezer department of the supermarket and running away.
There will always be someone left behind. That is the nature of mortality; it’s probably the one thing you will do, absolutely alone. No one else can go with you, no one can prepare you for it or do it for you.
I was saying last night to someone that in my fantasy-Hollywood casting of “Red Horse”, Alan Rickman would have been my choice for the Earl of Essex. And I’m not sure any more that’s true.
By all accounts decent, poetry-reading, a man to whom no breath of scandal was ever attached: a good man, with a reputation of honour and decency and kindness. He’d have had to be Fairfax, wouldn’t he?