Running In The 12.30 At Cheltenham


Aug 5, 2014
Running In The 12.30 At Cheltenham Few people realise just how stressful and complicated getting a funeral cortege to the crematorium on time can really be…. Here’s the reality:

JAMES:
Good afternoon. Welcome to “Racing to Cheltenham Crematorium during Gold Cup week.” We're booked for the 12:30 in the South Chapel, so over to our hearse driver, Pedals Rafferty.

PEDALS:
Thank you. Yes, the family runners for this cortege, over eighteen miles of town & country, are lining up behind us. And we’re off!

First in line is Our Limo. Beautifully turned out, he looked a picture in the yard. Just coming into my mirrors is Silver Vauxhall; he’s one of four private cars in the procession. He’s had good opening speed and looked very assertive on the junctions. Behind him is Other Daughter’s Blue Toyota. That one’s a worry – she likes it soft under the right foot and tends to be a bit one-paced.

JAMES:
Yes, you’re right. She disagreed with cremation anyway and is very much the outsider. I noticed she was tailing off on our last outing from house to church. A very disappointing showing from her and she might yet cause some separation, especially with Grandson’s racy Citroen bringing up the rear. He’s a young colt and a bit blinkered, this being his first outing. But behind Our Limo is the favourite: Son-In-Law’s 4x4. Carrying plenty of weight and determined not to let any interlopers into the cortege, he’s the hot ticket to keep us all together.

PEDALS:
Oh dear, Blue Toyota has hesitated on the mini-roundabout. Grandson’s Citroen is rearing up as well, but it’s too late - Blue Toyota has let a lorry in! She very narrowly avoided a stewards’ enquiry following a disastrous manoeuvre in the paddock outside church and I’m wondering if we’ll have similar problems again.

JAMES:
We haven’t got the time to hang around. The service in church overran as it is and if we hit race traffic in Cheltenham we’ll fall at the last hurdle. We’ve got Our Limo and Son-In-Law’s 4x4 right on our tail. Silver Vauxhall is hovering mid-field because Blue Toyota doesn’t know the route and now she can’t see a damn thing from behind that lorry. Meanwhile Grandson’s Citroen is holding ground as the back-marker. Take it up a notch Pedals, there’s bound to be a queue at the A417 roundabout.

PEDALS:
Hard down the right hand lane and hopefully we can get all five across together in one go. Right, they’re through and we’re pushing back up to forty on clear road again. Our Limo is right there with 4x4, Silver Vauxhall is doing his best, but now the lorry has been replaced by a Transit van so Blue Toyota is still trailing with Grandson behind her.

JAMES:
Just as expected, Other Daughter remains the outsider. Very difficult during the arrangements and now hopeless on the day. Ok, into town now and we’re hitting race traffic. Half a mile to go and just 15 minutes left of our slot before the Co-Op Chase at 1.00 o’clock. In fact I can see them coming up behind in the distance. Oh no, solid traffic queues – no movement! Ok Pedals, drastic measures called for.

PEDALS:
I’m on it. Headlights on main beam, hazards too. I’m taking the opposing lane. Major obstructions up by the race course mean there should be no oncoming traffic. Our Limo knows what to do; Son-In-Law’s 4x4 is enjoying the moment; Silver Vauxhall has got the message, he’s pulling out too. Now Grandson’s Citroen has moved from the back of the field, so where is Blue Toyota? She’s slow breaking free. Oh hang on, she’s found a late burst of pace!
 
JAMES:
Ok, ease up on the last two furlongs through the crematorium grounds. Keep it brisk but dignified, back to legal driving again. Time is really tight and it’ll be a fight to stop them disappearing off to the toilets when we get there. Have we got everyone?

PEDALS:
Looks like it. Our Limo’s fine; Son-In-Law’s 4x4 is on a flyer and is first to show; Silver Vauxhall’s given up with Blue Toyota and he’s tucked up behind. Grandson’s Citroen has closed the gap. There’s nothing between them. But Blue Toyota has dropped out! With a furlong to go she’s lost her head and followed the signs for the main car park! She’s pulled up well short.

JAMES:
That’s it then. She’ll be too far away from the Chapels now and if she can’t resist the lure of the toilets there’ll be no time left to get her across the finish line.

Photo finish! The Co-Op’s mourners have all gathered round, thinking we must be the 1.00 o’clock!

(….Every word of it is true. Many times, actually!) 


James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos.




Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

Don't miss out...

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for the latest updates.

Subscribe

Our Trusted Partners

over 50 life insurance    funeral plans   equity release   health insurance      best energy deals   over 50s car insurance  making a Will