Saturday, 4 August 2012

A coffin, a beetle and a non-existent picture

I've had a picture in my mind for almost 40 years - a picture that I would love to transfer to paper. The picture would save many words and be many times more effective than any written or spoken description. Alas, the ability to illustrate is a gift with which I am not blessed, and the subject of the said picture is so absurd that even the seemingly infinite resources of Google Images would not help. Yet the story the picture would tell is a true story which could have been recorded for all time if there had been an insightful photographer at hand. It wasn't to be, so my attempt at a word picture will have to suffice.

Mrs Bricky and I were to travel by air with a group of friends to a convention in a distant city, at which we were to perform a humorous sketch. Our sketch required an unusual prop: an authentic coffin. A cardboard imitation wouldn't do, as it needed to be sufficiently strong to carry a (live) body. We needed to acquire it from a source in or near our destination city, as we sensed our air carrier would be less than enthusiastic about carrying it as accompanied baggage. A sufficiently friendly funeral director might have lent us one from his shelf stock, but we didn't know one. But wait a moment - what about good old Dad? My father, who lived in a country town within a two hour drive of our convention venue, and whose DIY skills have been documented in a previous post , was a skilled woodworker who had recently retired and thus had time on his hands. A phone call determined that he was willing to make a coffin for the cost of the materials and deliver it to a nominated city address. And so it was settled. We thought no more about it until the convention weekend arrived and we travelled to our destination. Sure enough, there was a beautifully crafted burial casket awaiting us at the agreed address.

The picture that has been lurking in my mind for almost four decades is not just one of a coffin. You see, I had (reasonably, I thought) expected that my father would transport the coffin from his country hometown to the city on a truck, or possibly on a car trailer. I suppose I also thought he would discreetly cover it with a tarpaulin. But no, there wasn't a tarpaulin. Neither was there a truck or a trailer. He had carried it, uncovered, on a roof-rack atop his car - a VW beetle.