Fifty styles of black – 49 inappropriate

Don't turn up dressed like Zorro ...
Don't turn up dressed like Zorro ...

By Phil Weir

Funerals have been on my mind recently – generally, those that take place at our friendly (but suitably sad) neighbourhood crem in Kirkcaldy – and, specifically, what males now wear to them.

Time was when the sartorial code for such respectful occasions was that those gathered together were required to wear black.

For women, this meant black dresses, coats, hats, etc. For men, the de rigeur rig-out was black suits, black ties and black shoes, black overcoats.

I became aware standards were on the slide when I noticed a growing number of black blouson-type leather jackets being sported at these sombre occasions – especially by men.

Now, there are certain funerals where such garments would be appropriate – if the deceased was a member of a motorcycling fraternity; he flew 50 bomber missions over Nazi Germany with the RAF in the early 1940s; or the departed was the long-serving chairman of the local Fonz Appreciation Society.

Otherwise, I’d chalk up the donning of such apparel as a major funerary fail.

And as well as just plain not looking right, such a jacket choice is yet another sign of eroding etiquette.

Plus, it suggests the floodgates are about to open to a veritable stampede through the double doors at the crem of the inappropriately attired.

What next? Before you know it the rule will be bent further: “Dinnae worry, son. As long as it’s black, it’ll do.”

If the rot continues, one day soon, a minister or family member is going to make his or her way to the lectern, shuffle their eulogy notes, and then raise their eyes to behold an assemblage of mourners wearing ... just what? The mind boggles. Black spandex gym leotards? Black Sex Pistols T- shirts? Dad’s old black traffic warden uniform? A black boiler suit? Black silk pyjamas? Black onesies? A fancy dress Star Wars Emperor Palpatine costume (in black)? A replica black Kendo Nagasaki face mask? A black and grey striped memento poncho from a trip to Mexico?

Come on, chaps, let’s get it right. And here’s a motto to keep you on track:

“At funerals, the prevailing mood is sorrow.

So, please, don’t turn up dressed like Zorro!”

Otherwise, at the close of the service, as the mourners shuffle down the crem exit- corridor towards the car park and pause to express their condolences to the funeral party, as often as not, the funeral party will express their condolences right back at the mourners – over the lack of appropriate gear they have at the gloomy end of their wardrobe rails.

And speaking of the crem corridor shuffle, there Mrs W and I were last week in just such a walk-past, when our reverential whisperings were drowned out by a group of old geezers behind us, who, judging by their irritated repartee, were composed of Jack and Victor from Still Game, plus a brace of Victor Meldrews. They were peeved about the slow pace of the procession, and they were bawling about it with such stuff as: “Why’s everything’s moving so slow? What can they find to talk about? Crivvens! We’ll be here all day!”

I didn’t turn round for a look, but I’d have put put the church collection on them all being zipped up tight in black bomber jackets.

Crem thugs!