15.15, April 19th, Siggiewi piazza, Malta, and the bells are tolling. Another day, another dime for me and another death being celebrated 100 metres away from my computer screen. Most days see me wake to bells for a funeral squeezed between the frequent morning masses. I return most afternoons to find no parking as mourners have filched the spaces. Death is so much part of our lives we scarcely notice the hearses decked in white carnations sidled up by the church .
We did yesterday though. I could hardly believe what I saw. Two pairs of fine black horses, plumed and polished; one pair pulling the ‘hearse’; the other a carriage that was shaped like those you find Cinderella in on her way to the ball – a kind of Rococco, gilded affair. The funeral directors stood around as they always do, hands in pockets, waiting for the off. My son expected them to be in coiffed wigs, with doublet and hose instead of regular suits.
We wrote about Malta’s love of celebrating death a few months back. A comment came in saying an enterprising funeral director was branching out into Sicilian-style horse-drawn hearses, but we’d never come across one until yesterday. It really was an amazing sight, rare still, but one I think might start catching on. The cabby told us the guy who died ‘loved horses’. A shame then he didn’t get to see it all!
Photos: Alex Grech