The Best Funeral Ever


 "He was my North, my South, my East, my West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song:
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong ."

W. H. Auden: Funeral Blues (1940)

I have only been to three funerals in my life. My mother's, my father's and my ex husband's.

Martin Breese, magician, multi media publisher, inventor, pioneer of magic tricks, photographer and copywriter/editor died at the age of 74 three years ago having experienced everything that he wanted to do in life.  Like owning a Rolls Royce, which he only drove on two occasions to the local Sainsbury's in Brighton because he was sold an expensive pup. He could not even start the Rolls for his third wedding! Like finding a Thai bride on the internet, like going with dozens of young Chinese prostitutes supplied by the local brothel keeper Coco in Brighton at £100-£120 a session. Like harvesting a crop of marijuana under photographic lights on the top floor of our house in the respectable Hanover Crescent and smoking it all over a year or giving it away to his old and new grasping 'friends'.   Like getting a tattoo on his arm of the Breese logo from his early magic publications which looked like one big black stupid splodge. Like owning and running a colonic irrigation clinic in our flat which he lived in after we had split up.  Like drinking copious amounts of wine without getting too drunk.  Like being unfaithful with Maritza the Cuban housekeeper, even though we had had a fidelity bond for 23 years.  Like 'buying' friendships.  Like creating multi media magic videos and CDs which he had pioneered and won an award in Hollywood at the Magic Castle, the world nerve centre for the magic brotherhood for his 32 years in the International Magic Fraternity. Everyone in the world of magic, who was of a certain age, knew the name Martin Breese. Yes, he grew old disgracefully and got away with it. A charismatic rogue, rascal and manipulator pulling the invisible puppet strings to the end of his days. 


First of all the funeral was held in the beautiful Church of Annunciation, Hanover, Brighton. He was not a member of the congregation but was very friendly with the priest - Father Michael. He was officially called this but his alter-ego was Spike Wells, a well-known local jazz drummer who performed gigs and who had a violinist wife half his age. He had also had a career before Priesthood as a solicitor!!!!


Father Michael gave a profound speech about Martin, the man and his achievements which must have been difficult for him, as he was fond of him as a friend. They had met when Martin ran his Colonic Irrigation clinic at the top of the flat we jointly owned which he moved into when he left me!!! They also shared a love of George Simenon's Maigret crime novels.  Father Michael would come to visit him in the cancer ward at the Sussex County Hospital in his role of hospital Chaplain where they would talk about life and death. Martin knew when he was ready to leave this world for the next. 


Sophie, his intellectual daughter who was a Doctor of Philosophy and Literature from Oxford University, gave a loving, professional speech followed by his son James,  a well established TV  presenter, charity auctioneer and writer on vintage collectables for The Sunday Mirror. So Martin had a good oratory send off, so to speak.


When I said my FINAL adieu to him in the Brighton County Hospital (he died of leukemia), I touched his shoulder and said, of all things, "Take good care of yourself". Why on earth would I say such a funny thing? I've never said that before to anyone!!!!


When I entered the church, I thought I would follow James and Sophie alongside Martin's third wife (a Thai bride called Pang) and sit with them in the front row of the church normally reserved for close family. But horror of horrors, as I came down the aisle, one of Martin's good friends and supplier of apparatus and tricks called Glinda, a transgender character, fell sobbing into my arms. I couldn't very well leave so I remained there throughout the sermon holding her hand with her head resting on my shoulder, breast and sometimes my lap. She was wearing one of her usual décolleté summer dresses. But hey this was Brighton in full swing where anything goes in life as well as death!!! After the church there was the Crematorium ceremony, with only the immediate family where we watched the master of magic and his casket disappear into heaven or hell with the dark blue curtains closing behind him. 

At the magical hour we all went to the vibrant party at the trendy MyHotel in the ultra modern cocktail bar for two magic shows and speeches by professional magicians who were his good friends honouring the great man and his many achievements with the guests standing watching drinks in hand after toasting him cheering what a great fellow he was! 


The atmosphere was convivial and electric.  I was reunited with people from our past 25 years together, including Alan, his book jacket designer, his estate agent, his solicitor (who I heard got drunk later into the evening), a South African Rabbi, Charles, who gatecrashed and had never even met Martin, my oldest best girlfriend Helga who had flown in from Jerusalem, his typesetter Anne who had driven from her home in France, the Egyptian antique dealer Abdul, neighbour and friend, who had bought our marital home in Hanover Crescent, the manager of the local Chinese restaurant, Denis, who had tried unsuccessfully to teach him some Chinese, his former companion Jackie, with her American comedian partner Neil, his oldest friend, Lawrence, who he used to play marbles with on South London bomb sites with whom he drank copious bottles of wine at Donatello's each month and dozens of others who had been invited to pay homage to the celebrated character who had grown old disgracefully and got away with it.


It was a fabulous party with food and drink flowing freely. Martin Breese would have loved it had he been invited! What a way to go!            



Written in Athens in September 2015.