It was in Easter week that one of my closest friends, Thea, died and I sang at her funeral. She had asked me to sing when she had been in remission.
'And not something maudlin, either,' she had said. 'I don't want to be sitting up there on my cloud and looking down at you shouting for you to pull your daft self together! I want The Holy City - and let them applaud, none of that shushing them with your hands, respectful of what the occasion is. I want the occasion to be bonkers.'
As Thea and I had been so close, when she stopped me in the Saxmundham Station carpark a year or so later and said that she was now definitely dying, she added that I must go behind her husband and make sure he didn't leave her lying out in state in the church, as he planned.
'Lying there in full view of everyone, including some people that I won't know. I'd be ashamed. What? No, not in an open casket - who do you think I am, Mother Theresa of Calcutta? But still the coffin would be Tom All Alone's there on the bier to be gawped at. And I don't want that. So, Iestyn, please make sure that Jock goes along with my wishes. I want to be cremated. On my own. Oh, lord above, what does that sound like? I'm actually not expecting him to cling to my coffin as it goes through the curtain, like a widower form of sati. Just, I need you to make sure I get cremated. Now, go and get your lift into Aldeburgh before I get you to manipulate the colour of the smoke that's going to come out of the crematorium chimney. God knows how you'd get it the exact shade of summer damson that I like...'
It was the last time I saw her. She was cremated. I sang The Holy City. And let them react as they would.