Willie The Wizard

Willie the Wizard, Indian Willie, One Match Willie, Oor Willie – whatever you called him, there is no doubt that Willie Taylor was an unforgettable character.  At first glance, he was a bit like a tiny,  Edinburgh version of Lemmy from Motorhead, so it seems a appropriate that his main interests in life were music and motorcycles.  I … Continue Reading

Death, by Sean Hughes

Unlike quite a few of my friends, I never had the pleasure of meeting Sean Hughes, the gifted writer and comedian who died yesterday. I was aware of his comic genius, but I’d never read this poem, which was reproduced today in The Guardian. I hope someone is asked to read it at his funeral! … Continue Reading

Regrets: I’ve had a few…

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I was delighted to be nominated, and then shortlisted for the Vows Awards a couple of weeks ago: that was entirely thanks to the many couples who voted for me to show their appreciation for the ceremonies that I conducted for them. I have been a celebrant for twelve … Continue Reading

Are we mourning or celebrating?

I’ve been a celebrant for a dozen years now, and over that time, the character of funerals has undoubtedly changed.  Two years ago, the BBC ran this story based on an ICM survey, in which it found that 54% of people wanted a ceremony that was ‘a celebration of life’. Almost as many wanted to … Continue Reading

Grieving: it’s time for Option B

I was very moved by this interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in The Observer, where she talks about how she coped with going to sleep beside her 47 year old husband, and waking up to discover that he was dead.Journalist Decca Aitkenhead is one of our best writers, and while she wasn’t entirely won … Continue Reading

Hatches, Matches and Dispatches

I’m a big fan of Get It On, the nightly request show on BBC Radio Scotland, presented by Bryan Burnett and a rolling team of producer co-hosts. They do some great themes, and tonight’s was a belter: A few days ago, they were talking about doing a theme on music for funerals, so I sent him a … Continue Reading

In Memory of Bill Purves

What do we mean when we say someone’s a character? It’s a word with many nuances, but I can think of no-one about whom it is more appropriate than my neighbour of twenty years, Bill Purves.  I live in a mews and when I first moved here twenty years ago, there were still two working … Continue Reading

A Funeral for a Humanist

I know it sounds odd, but it’s not often I’m asked to conduct a funeral for a humanist.  Lots of people want a humanist ceremony, but what they really want is, “something that’s not religious where we can talk about the person that we love”. We did that for Leslie too: his son Ian delivered a … Continue Reading