It was a cold crisp day in January when Oswald Clark was buried. He had died in the Advent season at the age ninety-nine having just failed to reach his century. In my final exceptforablockhead.blogspot.com post I pondered on the secrets of enjoying a long life, one which Mr Clark seemed to have cracked. One of those was religious faith, which he certainly had. Curiously those who believe most strongly in the afterlife are those whose arrival there is delayed the longest.
It was always ‘Mister Clark’ for those of us whom he trained as guides back in the seventies and eighties. There was an old world formality and courtesy to him which some people might find off-putting in these of universal and automatic use of first names – or Christian names, as he would have styled them. I always remember him saying, “That was an excellent talk on the Magna Carta, Mr Lerner.” That compliment pleased me more than any I have ever received, I think. He was the sort of man you wanted to impress but who did not give out praise lightly.
Mr Clark left very specific instructions for his funeral:
No ‘tributes’ or ‘words of appreciation’ … no poetry or prose ‘readings’; no solos, no Crimond or Jerusalem …no negro spirituals or Irish melodies; no whining Nunc Dimitis … the Prayer Book Service says all that is necessary or desirable.”
I am not sure why the Nunc Dimitis of the Anglican Evensong, which I find intensely moving, was considered ‘whining’ by Mr Clark but we got the message. It was to be a traditional church service conducted exclusively by male priests (another of his specifications) attended by a few guides, family members and friends from the Church of England Synod, of which he had been a long-standing member. There was something moving and appropriate about the way he was buried which suited the man. His was a life well led and he will be much missed by family, friends and colleagues.
For more on Oswald Clark CBE go to:www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/6-january/news/uk/oswald-clark-veteran-synodsman-dies-aged-99
You can read my other blog at http://menfriday.blospot.com for my views on men, women and feminism.