Friday, 10 June 2011
QUEENSLAND, THE DIFFERENT STATE, PART 2
The funeral for Councillor Bill Hooper was held at the Cairns Crematorium.
The service was conducted by a Celebrant rather than a Minister of Religion in accordance with the late Councillor's wishes.
Sitting in the front row with Brandi alongside him, Cush chortled to himself as the Celebrant insisted on describing the event as a "Celebration of Bill's life." Cush always loved that,
"Celebration!" he thought, stifling an outright guffaw, "Shit that's the case alright, every bastard here will piss off after the service and get maggotted!"
It was the Australian way, Cush decided. Unlike other cultures where people openly howled and bawled and pissed their pants and women beat their breasts and flung themselves on the coffin. Australians liked to turn it all into a celebration and one gigantic big booze-up and argue like billy-oh about their inheritance.
Cush did a quick look around the room, noticing the Councillors, their wives, many of the Cairns Regional Council staff and the family of Bill Hooper in attendance. He gave a quick nod of recognition at Reg Silvers who was sitting quite near him with his actress wife, Rhianna.
He wondered again why Silvers had changed his mind so quickly about standing in Division 2.
He would get Horsey to try and find out, he thought. Get Silvers a bit pissed and then wrangle it out of him.
The Celebrant was making the usual speech about how great and bloody wonderful a man Bill Hooper was. "He dedicated his life to public service and serving the community so unselfishly,"
the Celebrant was saying as Cush pushed his thoughts aside and focussed again on the service.
"Yeah, he served the community alright," thought Cush, "he never did a thing in his life for anyone where he didn't get paid, and he made people pay him heaps too."
"He was such a generous man that he would literally give you the shirt off his back." continued the Celebrant, getting carried away with his voice.
"Yeah, he was fucken St Francis of Assissi re-incarnated!" thought Cush.
"He will be missed sadly by his grieving wife, Joan, and his children to whom he was the most wonderful, loving and caring husband and father." said the Celebrant.
"They'll miss him like a fucken hole in the head," thought Cush, eyeing off the so-called grieving widow Joan and his two sons who were both solicitors in Cairns.
Rumour had already reached Cush via the gossip savvy Horsey that Bill Hooper's two solicitor sons were already preparing to fight the contents of their father's Will. Apparently, back in his salad days, the young Bill Hooper had sown his wild oats somewhere and fathered a baby out of wedlock. With the passage of time and a mind starting to grow a little soft, Bill had hired a detective to track down the child and found that his daughter, his only daughter, had been born with a physical handicap, had spent her life in an institution and was now living an impoverished existence on State welfare. Millionaire Bill had then gone and had an acute attack of the "guilts" and apparently, according to Horsey anyway, had re-written his Will, leaving a generous bequeath to his only daughter. Somehow the two Solicitor sons, despite the so called confidentiality in the legal world, had learned about it, and were not happy chappies.
"So much for loving families," thought Cush. "It takes a funeral for everyone to feel all the love bullshit."
Cush then read the Eulogy on behalf of the Cairns Regional Council in his role as His Worship the Mayor. He thought the CEO must have been monged out of his tiny brain when he wrote it, but he put the thought aside, put on his best speaking voice and gravely announced:
"Cairns has lost a much loved son, a pillar of the community, a deeply admired and respected banker, financier, developer and a dedicated and hard working city Councillor....."
Sitting down the back of the small room, Councillor Enzo Bombonieri shook his head and looked at Councillor Dom Piper sitting beside him. "He was one of the greatest corrupt crooks in Cairns!" whispered Enzo. Dom only nodded silently.
Brandi took time out to steal a glance at Rhianna Silvers and noted with envy her beautiful black, mourning outfit. She wondered what Reg had said to Rhianna after receiving the email she had sent him anonymously showing Rhianna and that AFL player at the rave. She did know from something Cush had said that morning that Reg Silvers had changed his mind about standing as Councillor for Division 2. Brandi had smiled to herself at that.
His Eulogy over, Cush returned to his seat while someone else stood up to do their Eulogy.
Cush pulled out the piece of paper Horsey had given him that morning, listing the names of Party members who had indicated they wished to stand for Division 2 in the coming by-election.
There were fifteen names on the list. It was unprecedented in the Party's history. "Because they know they will be working with the best fucken Mayor, Cairns has ever had!" thundered Cush.
Cush took out a pen from his jacket pocket and scrubbed out the female names on the list.
How many times, he thought surly, did he have to tell those fucken Party officials he didn't want anyone without Johnsons on his team?
Next he impatiently scrubbed out those names he didn't think were Anglo Saxon Caucasian in origin. Some dot-head by the name of Singh had put his name down. Next, some dago by the name of Bennetti. One dago on the Council was enough, he thought angrily.
He didn't want young Councillors either, so he scrubbed out three more names where their ages were listed as early 30s. Too bloody excited about the environment, he thought.
Hooper's two sons had both nominated themselves and Cush scrubbed their names off the list as well. No fucken legal eagles, he thought.
He now had the list down to three names. He would confer with Horsey later on, as to who whould be the better choice he thought. Someone who wouldn't give any trouble, just put their head down and do as they were told.
At the very back of the service, the Reverend Matthew Harmon, of the Bentley Park Community Baptist Church, listened to the funeral service with dismay and horror.
He had never been to a non-religious "Celebrant" funeral service before, and quite frankly, it just disgusted him. There was no God here! he thought incredulously.
The service was nothing but a hard-sell of Bill Cooper, praising him to the roof-tops, like, like...the Reverend Matthew Harmon struggled to find the words....like a commercial product!
He also disliked the insistence of everyone that it was a "celebration". He felt outraged.
Where was the mourning for a lost life? Where were the affirmations of Christ's love for humanity?
He couldn't help himself. He just couldn't. The words came to him. He started saying them softly, and his voice grew stronger as others joined in.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters......"
Matthew Harmon was a tall man, six foot seven inches in his bare feet and a former Taipans basketballer. He unfurled his lanky limbs and stood tall, his preachers voice ringing out in the small auditorium.
"He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me......"
Enzo and Maria Bombonieri, Dom and Margie Piper and several others also stood and joined in, many thinking it was part of the service.
The Celebrant could only stare, stupefied. His service had been hijacked by a man of God!
The local television news crews focussed on the Reverend Harmon and the increaasing numbers of people who were standing and either reciting The Twenty-Third Psalm, or who were standing with their heads respectfully bowed.
Thus, the Reverend Matthew Harmon, aged 35, father of four, morals crusader, resident of Bentley Park, Cairns, member of the Socialist Workers Party of Australia, and candidate for Division 2 in the forthcoming Council by-election, received unexpected media publicity, in his outrage at attending a non-religious funeral service. As he was to explain later, he just could not tolerate a Godless funeral service. "The service sounded like the late Bill Hooper was a piece of cheese or a car, and not a precious human being being committed to God's care!"
Many people loved what the Reverend said, when they watched the television news segment that night. They didn't mind God not being at their weddings, nor the naming of their children, but they wanted God to be there when they died. They all reckoned the Reverend sounded like a "good bloke".
The Reverend Matthew Harmon had just given himself, however accidental, the very best publicity he could, in his quest to become the Councillor for Division 2.
To be continued.........................