A Word from the Other Side by Trevor Plumbly

RIPNo Flowers by Request

The day started out normally enough: tea in hand, talkback radio blaring (if you’re reasonably sane it’s nice to know what the nutters are up to) and the untouched cryptic crossword sitting like a cerebral kickstarter on the table. This pleasant little vignette of normality got a bit shattered when Pam announced, ‘I’ve just had an email from Glen offering his condolences on your recent demise.’ I considered this for a second or two. It’s not every day you get told you’ve conked it and the news quite naturally pulled my attention away from the standard morning pastimes; news of this import requires total concentration and immediate actions. It seemed a little early to consult the death notices in the paper, so I checked my pulse, which seemed to be tootling along at what passes for normal at my age. Then I considered the facts, as my old pal Hoffa constantly urges me to do.

A Personal Post Mortem

We all need beliefs in our lives and at that point I believed that I was still alive; after all logic would suggest if someone said to you that you’d kicked the bucket, you’d have to be alive to hear them, wouldn’t you? I considered the possibility that I might be in a state of flux, in a sort of netherworld, like a misdirected parcel waiting for a final destination address. To test that theory I resorted to my usual routine, figuring that while medical miracles are remotely possible, there’s no way anyone can drink tea and solve crossword clues swanning around in limbo. I’d like to say that the incident provoked a rush of intense personal reflection or that my entire life flashed before me, but it didn’t. It then occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t looking at all the possibilities, perhaps there was a bit of a log jam up there and the Old Boy had taken a tip from Vodafone and outsourced reception, leaving me on a sort of celestial phone tree. But angel voices didn’t whisper ‘your call is important to us’ so I gave up that idea; maybe the Old Boy’s a crossword fan and is prepared to wait until I get 13 across. More worrying still is the thought that Glen is a bloody clairvoyant.


It’s lunchtime; I’ve finished the crossword and run out of theories, my moving parts all seem to be going OK. I’m considering lunch quite seriously: would a couple of fried bacon rolls serve as a bullet train for Glen’s theory, or worse, act as a taunt to those upstairs? I decided on an each-way bet and settled for the fried egg sandwiches. As I write, things are much the same, but in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion I have Yoyo Ma playing in the background while I start to put my affairs in order. First off I shall send myself a sympathy card; nothing too effusive, just saying what a decent bloke I was and how much I’ll miss me. Then of course there’s the funeral to plan: do try to make it but please bring booze, I personally prefer Emerson’s Pilsner, a good Central Otago Pinot Noir and a glass of Grappa to polish it off, if that helps your choice. I’d like to say I’m dying to see you but let’s not get too cocky. In the meantime, if anyone named Glen asks you how you are, don’t answer!

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