17 March, 2018, 12:00 am
As a child I had the tendency to leave things behind. This would cause my dear old mother to say: “If your head was not screwed on you would leave that behind too”. Yesterday I heard the echo of another of my exasperated mother’s frequent utterings when trying to get me to school on time. She used to say: “You will even be late for your own funeral”. This seemed to have had little effect in rectifying my tardiness in part I suspect because, as a child I did not envision my funeral being held in the near future but also I did not think being late for one’s own funeral would be such a bad idea!
The reason I was reminded yesterday of my mother’s prediction was that while driving into Suva I had just turned to proceed up Reservoir Rd when I pulled over to the left at the sound of sirens and the sight in my rear-view mirror of the red and blue flashing lights of two or three police motorcycles. I was interested to see which visiting Head of State warranted such an entourage. Instead I was amazed to see that, following the lead motorcyclist was a funeral hearse followed by two cars and a bus full of mourners. The “cortege” was travelling at such a speed that the hearse and the two cars were clearly having difficulty in keeping up and as I proceeded up Reservoir Rd I passed the bus of mourners chugging up the hill apparently abandoned by the police escort!
Whatever happened to the practice of the hearse and accompanying vehicles proceeding slowly to the cemetery or crematorium and vehicles travelling in the opposite direction slowing to express their respect to the departed?
I understand that some folks choose to have their loved ones escorted to their funeral by the police. However, does this need to be done by exceeding the speed limit and endangering the lives of the living?
I admit that the small child in me tends to envy the “dignitary” whenever I see someone being escorted by police outriders. I envy even more the police motorcyclists who can legally drive at such high speed on their new motorbikes. Growing up I associated blue and red flashing lights and sirens with emergency (police, fire, and ambulance) vehicles and offered them due priority.
Nowadays it seems every “high end” government vehicle, as well as even some without government plates, is fitted with blue and red flashing lights and allowed to drive without due regard to the highway code, speed limits, double white lines, and the safety of the public.
Instead of the police escorting the deceased to the grave or crematorium at “break neck” speed would it not be better if the police were to be used to assist fire engines to reach fires and ambulances with sick and injured patients to reach hospital on time, especially given today’s congested traffic?
I would certainly not turn down the offer of a whizz through town escorted with flashing lights and sirens but request that this be during my lifetime. After I have “taken the lead” I would prefer anyone accompanying me to my resting place take their time as I will be in no hurry to reach my final earthly destination!