I bumped into my neighbours from across the road this morning, Cough and Niggle (obviously those aren't their REAL names but they DO seem to suit them ...).
'Just been to see the undertaker' intoned Niggle in his doom laden voice.
Niggle always sounds like that even when he's imparting good news and this clearly wasn't ...
'Oh, I'm so sorr ....'
'LOVEY coffin we've picked out' interrupted Cough.
'Cost a bloody fortune though' added Niggle sadly.
'I really am very ...'
'Flowers, got the flowers sorted too' said Cough interrupting my condolences yet again. Don't think we'll bother with a wake though, can't see the point in forking out all that money, people can go home and eat their own food can't they?'
'Well' I started, 'it IS usual to ...'
'And my outfit - got a lovely dress down the Charity shop and picked up Niggle a bright red shirt at the same time - Mother wouldn't have wanted us to wear black, well, blacks not my colour anyway so I can wear that dress ALL summer -
'Bound to rain on the day' fretted Niggle, 'then what we gonna do ...'
'Oh, I'm sure it will be ....'
'Just off to look at poly tunnels for the allotment now' said Cough talking over me.
'Thinking about getting a 10 x 20 foot one - course that's gonna cost about a thousand quid so we might have to wait for the money to come through first.'
'Right ...' I said, partly because one word answers increased my chances of actually saying something and partly because I literally couldn't think of anything else to say.
Cough and Niggle looked at me expectantly as though they were slightly disappointed at my response and the lack of opportunity it provided to ignore me and carry on talking.
'Course, it won't be like LAST time' said Cough giving a little giggle.
'Last time?' I questioned - 'You mean you've buried Mother before???'
Cough giggled again ...
'Last time they said she was dying' interjected Niggle - 'We cleared her house and everything but then she got better!'
'Had to quickly put it all back again' Cough said frowning - 'Luckily she couldn't managed the stairs any more so we didn't need to bother with upstairs, we sold that stuff and she never knew!'
My mouth opened but this time I had NO words ...
'Got to rush' said Niggle - 'Lots still to do before we go up and see Mother'.
'SEE her ...' I asked faintly, 'In the Chapel of Rest you mean ...'
'Oh no' Cough said sounding surprised - 'She's not DEAD yet!'
'Won't be long now though' added Niggle in a sinister voice 'You can live several weeks without food you know but hardly any time at all without water ...'