Saturday, October 21, 2006

Molly Scotcher 1931-2006

Yesterday I went to a funeral near Bury St Edmunds to bury my Godmother, Molly Scotcher, who died last week. I’m not very good at funerals. No matter how much I tell myself I’m going to maintain a stiff upper lip, my eyes somehow turn into water fountains. It didn’t help today when I saw my Father and my Uncle acting as pall-bearers. They were carrying the coffin containing their sister. My mother (from whom I have inherited my moist eyes) was in bits. It was Molly who introduced her to my father fifty years ago. Indeed, had Molly and my mother not struck up a conversation on a train from Clare in Suffolk to Bartlow in Cambridgeshire, my parents would never have met and you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Molly was a woman of her generation. She was born in 1931 and was educated in Ashdon, near Saffron Walden, at the same school I was to attend thirty years later. She worked as a railway clerk before marrying her husband Percy. She immediately gave up work and had twins, my cousins Susan and Heather. Percy died 17 years ago today and since then she has devoted herself to her grandchildren and caring for elderly people. She really was a woman who put others before herself. Six months ago Molly was diagnosed with three aneurisms, and it was from one of those she died. Susan, her daughter discovered her body. I can think of nothing worse than discovering a dead parent. My sister Sheena rang to tell me. Sheena doesn’t ring me that often and when she does, I often fear the worst.

Why am I telling you all this? No idea really. I suppose it was an odd day and I just wanted to get it off my chest. But I was reminded of an exchange I had with one of the journalism students in Cardiff yesterday who made a remark about all politicians being on the make and someone inhumane. I countered that people have a similar view of journalists and made the point that politicians and journalists all have feelings, they all laugh, they cry, they shop in the same places as other people, watch the same TV programmes, suffer from the same illnesses. And everyone gets sad at funerals.

Funerals often provoke odd emotions in me and this one has been no different. One thing it has done is to make me question why I only really see my extended family at funerals. And it’s made me determine to get my sister to ring me when she has good news – or even no news – so at least I don’t always fear the worst when I see her name come up on my phone screen. Yesterday, possibly for the first time, I felt my age.

Apologies for the self indulgence of this post. Normal service to be resumed!


Gracchi said...

Sorry about your loss. Not sure its a great dereliction of duty to post about it- afterall one of the joys of reading a blog is not merely the subject matter- politics- but encountering another mind and what it finds interesting. In that sense the occasional post which says this kind of thing aint too bad. Anyway looking forward to reading more posts about politics!

Johnny Norfolk said...


I understand how you feel and my thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

My condolences, you realise at times like this how precious family is, that blood is thicker than water, despite, and in spite of, any powerful alliances you might have.

I had the task of waking my mother and telling her that my father lying next to her in bed had died, I never imagined having to do deliver such poignant news.

Paul Walter said...


No apologies needed - it was good of you to share this with us. Molly obviously played a very big part in the life of all of your family, including yourself.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ehm'I can think of nothing worse than discovering a dead parent.'

I sincerely hope you never have to find one of your children dead; I believe you will then reconsider your statement...

Iain Dale said...


You are quite right. I suppose I meant for me personally - and as I have no children I guess my point stands.

Man in a Shed said...

Iain - sorry for your loss.

When my last grandparent died on on my father's side - all the cousins descided to meet up each year. We've been fairly good at it over the last decade. Its always a bit of an effort, but always worth while too !

Anonymous said...

Self indulgement my arse Iain; this is your blog and if you want to talk about the memory of your Godmother, then who are we to do anything but sympathise?

Condloences from me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain

Please accept our inadequate & insensitive sympathy ... this is an occasion when words are of course insufficient

Tears ... you have at least this in common with the Good Lord ... Jesus also wept at Lazarus's funeral, for reasons which it is entirely to your credit that you understand & share

I have the honour to remain your obedient servant and with best wishes


The Hitch said...

Iain this gave me some comfort when My grandfather died.
Im notusually one for poetry but always pass this on to any body who has lost somebody.

Death is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Iain Dale said...

Peter Hitchens, you won't believe this, but that was the reading at the funeral. Spooky, eh?

Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dale,

His Grace sends his sincere condolences.

He lost his very good friend, Ralph Harris, on Thursday, and the suggestion that 'death is nothing at all', is no comfort; indeed, it is a deception, because the event is seismic. The void, the emptiness, the acknowledgement of the reality that one shall never laugh with him, debate with him, smell his pipe...

When those we love depart this life, there is nothing to restore hope but faith in the resurrection to come. When those who know the Lord depart this life, our tears are for ourselves.


Paul Burgin said...

Sorry about your loss. Never gets easier in my experience (and the deaths within two years of two friends of mine in my age group was a real body blow), but somehow you have the strength to keep going. I now find that I tell those who are very close to me that I love them or that I am very fond of them. Was too English to do that beforehand!

The Hitch said...

the suggestion that 'death is nothing at all', is no comfort; indeed, it is a deception, because the event is seismic.
Strange words for a man of faith.
I am sorry that you are feeling loss, however, your friend lives within you, no doubt you can still smell his pipe, recall his smile, remember funny things he said and kindness' he did for you.
Think of those things and be grateful you knew him and called him friend.
Worked for me, hope it works for you.

Anonymous said...


If I may I'll add my condolences and commiserations, too. But this is your blog and you should feel free to write whatever you wish. That you choose sometimes to write about more personal matters is no bad thing. It serves to remind us all that there is also real life to consider.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for that post - it was a blessing. Please be assured of my prayers for your Godmother, you and your family at Mass tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

There was a not dissimiliar piece in the Telegraph today by Liz Hunt.

I understand the dislocation of these rituals.My only ever half decent poem was called"Only at Weddings and Funerals" and tried to make sense of the pecucliarity of such events

"Nausea" starts with the character`s inability to feel involved at a funeral. You must be an existentialist.

Anonymous said...

My condolences too Iain.