No black, no lycra, two good locks

A farewell to Barry Mason (1950–2011)

Barry makes his entrance to Honor Oak Crematorium in south-east London…


…with pedal power provided by son Sam, and an escort of scores of Southwark Cyclists.

Waiting outside the crematorium were another few hundred of Barry’s family and friends. Far too many to fit inside the building, so some were forced to stand outside.

Inside the chapel, those who had come to celebrate Barry’s life were seated wherever they could find a few square centimetres, and Barry himself took centre stage. This Barry did also in life, tempered with characteristic humility and selflessness.

The funeral form was humanist, with the ceremony following a pattern defined by the British Humanist Association. This secular liturgy allows for the proceedings to be dominated by input from family and friends, in the form of personal reflections and tributes, poetry and music. Barry Mason’s funeral was an uplifting experience, in which personal grief was unified with community spirit.

Barry’s partner Cheryl read a poem by Joanna Clarke – The Astonishing Bird – and this was followed by contributions from several friends, and a eulogy from Sam. A recording of the song Casadh an tSúgáin (Twisting of the rope) by the Irish group Rún came next, along with another poem, Do not stand at my grave and weep, by Mary Frye…

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

After words of farewell to Barry, all left the chapel, after first placing flowers and sprigs of pungent herbs on the coffin. The exit was accompanied by a solo fiddler playing in the gallery, and the coffin remained throughout. There was no final curtain for Barry Mason.