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A grand finale for my father

I've never been to a Memorial Service before, so flying to London to speak at the Lincoln's Inn service for the late Sir Robert Megarry, my father, to a congregation of over 150 distinguished lawyers, friends and family was triply terrifying: concern about the journey timing, the imperative for self-control, and the total lack of any precedent in my lifetime. Unlike at the family funeral when I spoke about him from my heart, this time I had only to read somebody else's words: Bessie Stanley's essay on Success.

This was a much less difficult task than speaking at his funeral which followed his death on 11 October 2006. But in nearly 60 years of making myself, from time to time, do some bold things, I had never been so terrified. An hour later, even after uplifting music from the choir and Susan Anderson singing Dido's Lament, I was still hyperventilating, dry-mouthed with heart thumping, despite no physical exertion, no altitude challenge, no rational explanation. Only after the second glass of wine did my nervous system begin to calm down.

The event took place in Lincoln's Inn yesterday, and the Chapel was full, with people standing at the back. Bryan Garner, who edited my father's book A New Miscellany-at-Law (published when R.E.M. was 95 years old), had flown in from Texas to read an extract about arbitration by hen turkey. Representatives of his old school, Lancing College, were there in strength. Sir Martin Nourse gave the eulogy, which was both erudite and wonderfully affectionate: download it here. It makes a wonderful counterpart to the close-up and personal obituary in the Independent of last October.

The service was a grand celebration of R.E.M.'s 96 years, and the whole family is grateful to Lincoln's Inn for organising it. Here is Anthony Morris' fine portrait of my father which the Inn commissioned in 2001:

morris_rt_hon_sir_robert_megarry_lg.jpg

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 13, 2007 11:31 PM.

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