Sinatra song accompanies Bubbles' final curtain

Click to follow
EVERY SO OFTEN, funeral music gets the feet tapping in a rather unseemly fashion. A few years ago, officials at Grimsby crematorium took a stand against the increasing use of popular music at funerals, and banned the use of Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and Frank Sinatra's 'My Way'. They also refused to let Morris Men dance in the chapel at the funeral of a former member, and told one man that bagpipes could not be played at his own service, when the time came.

So it's just as well that yesterday's funeral of Viscountess Rothermere, the society hostess, took place well away from that solemn place, and in the more joyous setting of High Hurstwood, a village in East Sussex. There, the wife of the chairman of the Daily Mail, the third Viscount Rothermere, was carried from the 19th-century church to the strains of the Sinatra song 'New York, New York'.

It was a highly appropriate send-off for an unconventional woman who hated her nickname 'Bubbles', so called because of her sparkling personality and her love of champagne, but lived up to it all the same.

The song was appropriate because she was the woman she was, but it is still unusual for funerals to break with tradition in this way. At memorial services, particularly those commemorating people from showbusiness, it would be a surprise nowadays if a pop song wasn't played. Thus, Sammy Davis Jnr two years ago was remembered in Hollywood with two of his songs, 'Mr Bo Jangles', and 'I Gotta Be Me'. Or Graham Chapman, the Monty Python star, whose life was recalled to the accompaniment of 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.

But, at funerals Songs of Praise remains the preferred source of music. Not for Joe Orton, the playwright, however, whose coffin was carried out of a London church in 1967 to the then mould- breaking sounds of the Beatles and 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.