COVID brought send-offs to Zoom video calls, with on-screen memorials mushrooming. Practical yes, when numbers were restricted. But it’s spawned a trend toward fusing funerals with showbusiness. And we know how tasteful that business can be.

Last week I spoke at a funeral which rivalled the Oscars for production values. My pal Pat Mooney was ‘farewelling’ his father in Bearsden. A filmed spectacle beamed to his dad’s native Detroit.

Pat informed me he’d be producing and directing the service. Screen choreography and presenting would also come under his modus operandi.

He sounded like Orson Welles starting on Citizen Kane.

The first warning flares were Pat’s request to submit my eulogy for time and “appropriateness of tone.”

“You want to fact-check my eulogy?” I said. “I made most of it up!”

Michael Mooney was a stalwart of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. So, I wore my badge denoting honorary membership of that union. Screenwriter Peter McDougall was gifted it in recognition of his support for a stoppage at The Sunset Marquis Hotel in LA. Or the Loser’s Hilton, as Hunter S Thompson called it.

McDougall bestowed his badge on me in a rare burst of sentimentality.

Halfway through my eulogy I went off-script, succumbing to a fit of candour about the deceased’s deficiencies. He’d have expected nothing less.

“Michael Mooney was a disputatious man,” I said, “Our worst feud involved rival bids on a Burt Reynolds online auction, falling out over a Smokey and the Bandit belt.”

Pat started making hand signals. To speed up? Wind down?

“Please pause for a word from our sponsor!” he intoned.

The sponsor was a local café, Linda’s Kitchen, which specialises in “power lunches.”

I continued, “Michael publicly denounced me for appearing on Russia Today, calling me a ‘Kremlin-cuddler.’ I was publicising my forthcoming book…”

Pat darted over like Jack Ruby. Literally. The sponsorship deal precluded product placement. Even books.

I cut short my part in this farrago to subdued applause.

The conformity of the camera frame requires a performance, not the appraisal of a life.

Once upon a time jokes were cracked about the departed. Affectionate jibes, which sought to lampoon, but not offend. They were then toasted at the graveside with whisky glasses thrown into the grave. After the contents have been dispensed with, mind you.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m no traditionalist, cocooned in some mythical past. Pat’s daughter, a spirited student, had dressed like an executioner: black leather, fingerless gloves. Black, silk Necker and a black head covering. I believe it’s called a snood?

Her garb provoked disapproval. Why? She was rocking her own look in stylish tribute. Individuality in a sea of insincerity. Larissa was the star of the show, singing Darn That Dream beautifully. Hers was an honest projection of art in place of artifice.

She did her “Gramps” proud. Proving funerals don’t have to be sanitised showpieces.

And that, as they say in TV, is a wrap, people.

Brian McGeachan is an author and playwright. His books include They Rose Again and The Cardinal. His plays include Twisted and The Johnny Thomson Story