David Moseley

Will power

2013-07-24 08:44

David Moseley

Last week I signed off on my first grown-up will. A fairly basic declaration, it simply leaves everything I own to my wife.

One lucky day, Robyn will be the proud owner of two surfboards, a set of rusty golf clubs, two goldfish I haven't seen since 1998 and a bottle of whiskey that my mom bought me that's so awful I can't even fob it off to my drunk Australian friend.

My dear wife may or may not also be the fortunate recipient of a few socks that have disappeared down the side of the couch. But I can't say for certain. My brother, the previous benefactor of my accumulated wealth, will be devastated to hear what he’s now no longer entitled to.
All in all, it was a mundane and perfunctory experience. An e-mail arrived. I printed it out and signed where instructed. My witnesses did as directed. Scan, send back, will completed.

How dull. How underwhelming. How unbefitting of a process that requires you to, for a macabre moment, think of your grisly end. How normal. At the very least, I hoped for an angelic chorus of "Fill the world with love" to sweep through my mind. But no, just five minutes of regular paper work.
As a carried out the task, I imagined that the signing away of my life's possessions would be a grander occasion, something more meaningful and austere than a drab email letter weighed down by brusque formality.

I imagined that an ancient and wizened bank clerk, hunched over and burdened with a 1000 years' money-counting knowledge would appear in top hat and tails with a papyrus parchment perched meaningfully on a red velvet cushion, freshly plucked Dodo quill at the ready for the sombre signing moment.

I imagined that he'd force his stooped neck to one side, dismissing me with a disdainful glare and  a haughty sniff as a man of meagre possessions and unworthy of his time and expertise.

Yet because he's a professional, he'd still pull with a flourish an antique porcelain inkwell from his coat, filled with ink produced from a time no one can remember in a place that no one has seen and at a source so rare no one has heard of it. The ink would hum as it dripped to the page.

Passing the parchment, he'd sigh heavily and, with a faintly Eastern European accent that hints at weariness and wisdom, gravely intone, "When the ink is dry, then you have my permission to die."

I'd turn my back for an instant, and like that, he'd be gone, just a hint of dust, gunpowder and a sinister laugh in the air.

"This," I would think happily, "is how you prepare to perish. Not with a whimper, but with a bang. Not with an electronic correspondence, but with a ceremonious scroll."

Instead, reality. Two A4 pages, a signature, an e-mail. Business as usual.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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