I am all too well aware that as this blog gets older it will carry even more reviews of funerals.
Today's ceremony marked the passing of Dido Davies (on the name more below); I didnt know Dido especially well. She wrote a brilliant biography of William Gerhardie, she was an ex-heroin addict, she wrote a series of sex manuals under the pen name of Rachel Swift (How to Have an Orgasm....), she was (as Alex Masters's spot-on eulogy at the funeral said) "unforgettable" -- and she used to live in the house opposite us when we lived in Hertford Street in Cambridge. We all still remember Dido (who was just a couple of years older than me) sitting on her front steps in the sun with her pet snakes. And she sent me a great card a few months ago, when she was already very ill, wishing me well in my fight against the internet trolls. How could I not go to say good-bye?
She had been sick for some time, and I guess had planned the funeral (Dido would have...). Up front was a hearse that went through Cambridge drawn by four black horses (plus trumpets), brilliantly sullying the streets. (That's the picture at the top. I only came in at the end of this, but thanks to Clare Pettitt for the image of them leaving Dido's house)
The church service itself was a brilliant and moving mixture of the sad and the mad, the pious and the subversive.
There was great music, high church Anglicanism with all the smells and bells (Dido was about as high as you could get without actually being in Rome), and a coffin extraordinarily painted with vultures on the outside. (You can get a glimpse on the right.)
It was also the first time that I realised what Dido's full name was (written in the top of the coffin, and in the order of service):
"Mercedes Francesca Selina Rachel Jane Dido Davies"
I found myself wandering and wondering. How did she get that name? Why "Jane"? (was it to give her a "normal" name in case she wanted/needed one?) And what on earth did she write when asked for her full name? How would it fit into the boxes usually available? How was it we all knew her as "Dido"?
All this musing was interrupted by the end of the service: a hymn into which even the most agnostic can almost join, "Guide me o thou great redeemer" (to Cym Rhondda). If anyone with any influence is reading this, I'll have that one please, when it's my turn.
Meanwhile, goodbye and good luck Dido, wherever you are.