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A tale of two funerals

By ATWadmin On April 4th, 2009

It is perhaps a subtle comment on my own post, that today I write partly about an event, and a person whose very ethos and character I disliked intensely. The first funeral is that of Jade Goody, the ‘reality t.v. star’ of Big Brother, perhaps the only person who really enjoyed the title given her, which of course is “Famous for being Famous”. The intense ‘media’ interest has ensured a mass turn-out of satellite transmission dishes for t.v. stations from all over the world, which are to flash the pictures of the ceremony and cortege, which alone are bound to win top prizes in the ‘Worst Possible Taste’ stakes. In fact, the only thing about her funeral which is acceptable is if there were a plane crash at Stansted, because the t.v. circus would not have to spend a great deal on transport costs.

I accept that this woman has died exceedingly earlier than her normal life-span, and I also accept that she epitomises the statement that nothing in her life surpasses her leaving it! Let us examine, if we can, her life as it was lived and now in death. Her family life was tortured in the extreme, with a career criminal for a father, who finally died of a heroin overdose in a K.F.C. toilet; and a mother whose own vanity had her daughter fashion Afro-braids in her mother’s hair, and fall asleep in school next day because she was so tired. Once, Jade’s mother was so out of it, heavily medicated with drug use, she fell asleep with candles burning (she hadn’t paid the electricity bill and they’d been cut off) and set fire to the wardrobe. Jade had to drag her unconscious, disabled mum from their burning house. She wasn’t yet 10 years old.

She was ill-educated, brash, foul-mouthed, and once she became known, especially on the front pages of the tabloids, she rarely left the lime-light. She was given some good advice, started a line of perfumes, wrote (or at least ghosted) books and had them published, (which incidentally is more than I have achieved), and started putting money in the bank. She then made a disastrous appearnace on another Big Brother show, made a remark which was judged by the world as ‘Racist’ (shock, horror) and was kicked out very shortly afterwards. She bounced back, made a fulsome apology, and returned to the favourable headlines. During that same ‘bounce back’ she learned that she had cancer, and despite various medical interventions, learned that it was terminal. She went into ‘Jade overdrive’, with photoshoots, interviews, t.v., press and radio opportunities. The legal system was also given a ‘Jade’ slant, by her boy-friend and now widower given a legal excuse to extend his parole curfew to visit her in hospital, and also to marry her. She was in pain, was suffering, but she did lots of things for cash, because she wanted to ensure that her two sons would have an education which she so obviously lacked, and for that alone, I have to admit a reluctant admiration! She will be buried after a service in an Essex church, her remains having been transported like the tabloid royalty she was from Bermondsey in a funeral cortege.

The second funeral is one at which I was not present, as I worked in London. The man whose body was being buried was Jackie Milburn, the Newcastle and England footballing legend. A boyhood hero of mine, his fame within ‘Geordie Land’ remains undimmed even today, and his funeral cortege was the only time the whole of Newcastle City centre was brought to a standstill, as the true Geordies lined the streets to say farewell to a favourite son. He will be remembered for his modesty, his grace and his humility both on and off the football arenas, a humility best pictured when, characteristically, Milburn worried that no-one would turn up for his testimonial, in 1967. On the day, 45,404 people turned up.



His statue stands adjacent the ground he played in, and the inscription on his statue says it all, for me and for the wider world:-


WOR Jackie


In honour of John Edward Thompson Milburn

Footballer & Gentleman

11 Responses to “A tale of two funerals”

  1. The funeral is carried live on Sky News, a bouquet on the back of the funeral car depicts a marmite jar, the route of the cortege is lined by thousands of people throwing flowers, there must be a couple of thousand outside the church watching on screens.

    We’ve lost our minds.

  2. Russell Brand (of all people) wrote one of the best pieces I’ve seen about Jade Goody.


  3. Now a bouquet spells "MINGING".

    Just as well I’m off out, otherwise I’d end up liveblogging Jade Goody’s funeral.

  4. I loved the mad black woman who was shouting something live on tv about Jade being a Bermondsey girl and then , true to Bermondsey form said something about Jade being a ‘Fucking diamond… the Cameras quickly pulled away from her.

  5. Just as well I’m off out, otherwise I’d end up liveblogging Jade Goody’s funeral.

    I think I would pay money for Pete Moore to live blog Jade Goody’s funeral. There is something extraordinarily post-modern about that.

  6. I asked my young nephew what he wanted to be. "Famous" he said. "For what" said I.

    Blank stare.

    I suggested "Maybe as a scientist that invents a new drug that cures millions of people."

    Blank stare.

    "Why would I want to do that?"

    I’ve since worked on him and he’s growing into a fine boy, but when it comes to pop culture we’re all Canutists with the young.

  7. Frank

    I am really suprised at your endorsement of that article. I concede that it is actually well written. However as sad as I think the death of anyone that age who leaves two young children behind, I am ashamed that this country first of all made a cleebrity out of her and secondly made a saint out of her.

    I give her credit as she has desplayed a courage at the end that I would not have credited her and maybe she did become a dcent person.

    However the trivialising of the bullying of Sophie in the programme that brought her to ourr screens still horrifies me. Apparantly when the outcry over Shilpa Shetty started and people were expressing shock and suprise, Sophie was watching incredulous that what she went through didn’t matter, whilst Shilpa getting the Goddy treatment was a national, nay international scandal. I worry about the danage done to that girl and I hope that she is getting some help, particularly in the last month.

  8. Brand writes as if he’s swallowed a dictionary and only half-digested it.

  9. We’ve lost our minds.


    No, we haven’t. A media circus does not change the fact that most of us (at least 90%) still have our feet on the ground and couldn’t give a **** about this woman.

  10. I must admit, my preconceptions of Russell Brand have been sharply challenged, upon reading his blog. The guy can express himself with a level of intelligence, depth and sensitivity I never realised he possessed. It’s not a bad read at all, his webpage.

  11. Intelligence, depth & sensitivity were not apparent when he and his mate Ross made those truly disgusting comments on that answerphone!

    I prefer to judge a man on what he does with his life and talents, rather than a piece showing his ‘sensitive’ side.