Playwright Harold Pinter directs his own funeral

January 1st, 2009 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 1 (IANS) Broadway theatres dimmed their lights and actors read out moving passages at the funeral of Harold Pinter - apparently conducted in accordance with precise directions left by the late great British playwright.Pinter, one of the great literary figures of the modern era, was buried in a north London cemetery Dec 30 after losing a long battle with cancer on Christmas Eve at the age of 78.

In accordance with Pinter’s instructions, actor Sir Michael Gambon read out a passage from his play ‘No Man’s Land’ at the funeral service.

Gambon read out: “I might even show you my photograph album.

“You might even see a face in it that might remind you of your own, of what you once were.

“You might see faces of others in shadow or cheeks of others turning or jaws or backs of necks or eyes, dark under hat, which might remind you of others whom you once knew, whom you thought long dead but from whom you will still receive a sidelong glance if you can face the good ghost.

“Allow the love of the good ghost. They possess all that emotion trapped. Bow to it.

“It will assuredly never release them, but who knows what relief it may give to them, who knows how they may quicken in their chains, in their glass jars?

“You think it cool to quicken them, when they are fixed, imprisoned?

“No, no. Deeply, deeply, they wish to respond to your touch, to your look, and when you smile, their joy is unbounded.

“And so I say to you, tender the dead as you would yourself be tendered, now, in what you would describe as your life.”

Also read out at the service was the famous cricketing poem, ‘At Lord’s.’ Written by Francis Thompson, it was recited by actor-director Harry Burton, who was a member of Pinter’s amateur Gaieties Cricket Club.

Pinter, who was passionate about cricket, was said to have traditionally read the poem at the end of each season at the club, which is now captained by Shomit Dutta, Indian-origin scholar of Greek and classics.

The poem is famous for its nostalgic lines extolling the English late-19th century cricketers A.N. Hornby and Dick Barlow.

Among those at the service were Pinter’s second wife, the biographer Lady Antonia Fraser, and playwright Sir Tom Stoppard.

However, his son from his first wife Vivien Merchant, who drank herself to death in 1982, stayed away.

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