Why do people want to be famous? There are many reasons.
Some want riches and luxury. Some want to exercise their talents or please
their parents. Some just like attention and being in the public eye. They want
to live in the glare of publicity – and often they want to die there too. The
thought of a big funeral and crowds of mourners is a comfort to many
celebrities in their declining years.
But some famous people are the opposite: they don’t want
public attention when they’re off-stage. Victoria Wood, the Lancashire comedian
who has just passed away at the age of sixty-two, was like that. She became
famous because she wanted to exercise her talent and bring more laughter into
the world. But she wanted a private life too, where she could raise her
children to be as normal as possible. She knew that being the son or daughter
of a famous mother or father can be a difficult – and even dangerous – thing.
Some film-stars and pop-stars have undergone the worst tragedy in a parent’s
life: seeing their children pass away before they do.
Victoria Wood avoided that. She died in the natural order, before
her children, but she didn’t die at the natural time, because she went too
soon. She had much more to give and should have enjoyed many more years of
acting and writing. The illness that cut her life short deprived her of that,
and she knew it. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she had time to face her
passing and realize what she was going to lose. It was a tragic story, but
that’s precisely why the media would have been very interested in it. If she
had told the world that she was going to die, she would have had headlines
across the country and the sympathy of millions of people.
But she didn’t want that. She had performed in the spotlight
but lived well away from it. She was determined to pass away in the same style:
privately. Her funeral will pbey the same rule. It will be small and quiet,
attended only by her closest family, with no cameras and no crowds of fans
outside. That will suit her personality, but it could be a wise choice for
anyone. A quiet funeral is easier to plan and organize. You don’t need to rack
your brains thinking of clever or entertaining ways to create lasting memories
for those who attend. Victoria Wood could certainly have done that: she had a
very inventive comic brain, able to create laughter out of the unlikeliest
things and the unlikeliest settings, and she could easily have made her funeral
an occasion to fill newspapers and television screens.
She didn’t, although we can be sure that her quiet funeral
won’t be dark and gloomy. While she was dying she kept the spirits of her
family high with her jokes, and her funeral won’t be a completely sad occasion.
Her friends and relatives will remember her as she wanted them to: with a smile
even amid their grief.