Clement Wiffen sat at his desk, his trembling hands obscuring his face.
‘Which one was Edwyn Pugh?’ he groaned. ‘Are there any photographs?’
‘Maybe family ones, sir,’ said Mr Darkin. ‘But we can hardly ask…’
‘Damn it, why can’t funerals be more like weddings?’ Wiffen snapped, removing his hands and staring down at the page. He emitted a long sigh. ‘This… it’s the end of me. Us.’
‘Sir, do remember, Grave News is a trade publication,’ said Darkin, sitting down opposite his boss. ‘The public need not find out.’
‘Don’t be naïve all your life, Darkin. Of course it will get out. Why do you think Lambrick and Sons suddenly closed down after 93 years?’ Wiffen stabbed the paper with his index finger.
‘Then it’s bad, sir?’
‘Worse. Read it.’ Wiffen tossed the paper to his assistant.
Darkin read aloud: ‘“Wiffen and Usherwood Funeral Directors, estd. 1896, is now managed by the last of the Wiffens, Cyril’s great-grandson, Clement – a singularly gloomy individual who should carry an ‘Abandon Hope’ plaque around his neck…”’ Read more »