09 March 2011

Keep Britain Black

'A Lincolnshire priest has suggested in his parish magazine that black clothes should be banned at funerals and everywhere else. The normal arguments given to support this rest on two premises, that black clothes are drab and that funerals should be joyful things, celebrating a departure from this vale of tears into the happy abode beyond.

The only reason that black is thought drab is because it is associated with death and the clergy. But if kept clean, which the clergy often can't manage, it can be devilishly attractive. I can also think of several of my acquaintances whose death will leave me with no happy certainty as to their future abode. One could always modify one's dress at funerals according to one's estimate of the dead man's chances.

The real reason, I'm afraid, for many people's objections to black is because they do not like to reminded that with all the twentieth century's advances in the fields of teenage thought and cosy living, our scientists have not yet abolished the ancient and time-honoured institution of death. For myself, if anyone attending my funeral is not dressed in black, I shall haunt him through all his waking nights, dressed in South Sea shirt and Bermuda shorts and howling like a banshee.'

- Auberon Waugh, 'Keep Britain Black,' Catholic Herald, 1 March 1963


A.E.F. said...

Admiral, Anyone who thinks black can be drab hasn't attended High Mass at All Saint's, Margaret Street.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

AEF ~ I can only guess. How soon 'til All Saint's crosses the Rubicon, in a manner of speaking, to the RC Church? Any day now, I imagine. I've enjoyed seeing black clothing amongst congregants at Brompton Oratory, and amongst exiled Italian and Spanish worshipers in New York City. I won't mention the times I've seen black at political meetings in Britain and on the Continent.

Anonymous said...

Black, like any other colour should suit the wearer. Far too often it is simply a mindless default setting. Wearing black (In ordinary daytime circumstances) requires more thought--not less-- to pull off with style. Personally, I'm not mad about it. Details seem to disappear into the cloth. Also-- black demands black shoes. Fine for formality, but lacking warmth and patina of old chestnut leather. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am navy man.)

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

"I can also think of several of my acquaintances whose death will leave me with no happy certainty as to their future abode. "

This is a fantastic line, and the mentioned uncertainty is the mark of someone living well.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I want a catalfalque - not sure how to spell that and black plumed horses, everyone in deathly black and white roses everywhere. Can't wait!