Sean Hughes funeral reflects man who never lost capacity for friendship

Comedian laid to rest to the sound of ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ by The Smiths

 

Sean Hughes was laid to rest at a London crematorium on Monday to the sound of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths. The comedian, who died on October 16th aged 51 after a heart attack, had been suffering from liver cirrhosis.

The hundreds of mourners at Islington crematorium included comedians Phill Jupitus, Jack Dee, David Baddiel, Ardal O’Hanlon, Johnny Vegas, Omid Djalili, Bob Mortimer, Richard Herring and writer Fiona Looney. But the funeral service dwelt more on the private side of Hughes rather than his public success.

The coffin of Sean Hughes is carried into the chapel at Islington and Camden Cemetery in London. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire
The coffin of Sean Hughes is carried into the chapel at Islington and Camden Cemetery in London. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

His coffin was draped in the football jerseys of Crystal Palace and the Republic of Ireland, and next to it stood a photograph of Hughes with what appeared to be a halo behind his head.

First reading

The first reading was a recording of Sean Hughes himself reciting his poem Bliss in Abyss, about a brief flirtation with a woman who fails to turn up on the first date.

If I see her again I will not bad mouth her,

Instead I will thank her for

Giving me several hours of bliss in abyss,” it says.

The words in the tributes paid to Hughes by his brothers Martin and Alan and a number of close friends were “strictly off the record” at his family’s request. Martin Hughes lifted the injunction, however, to correct the record about their father as he was portrayed in a number of obituaries.

The congregation outside the chapel at the funeral of comedian Sean Hughes at Islington and Camden Cemetery in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The congregation outside the chapel at the funeral of comedian Sean Hughes at Islington and Camden Cemetery in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“Mum and Dad, Terry and John, made many sacrifices for us all. My poor old dad continues to pay for it, remembered in every newspaper article this week as an alcoholic. One thing you can have for the record is that our dad was definitely not an alcoholic. He only ever drank in company and to have craic and he never once drank at home,” he said.

Award winner

The service reflected the complicated personality of the London-born comedian who grew up in Dublin and became the youngest-ever winner of the Perrier Comedy Award at 22 for his 1990 show A One Night Stand with Sean Hughes. The speed of his rise to fame was, perhaps, more than he could cope with and his troubled relationship with alcohol cast a shadow over his later years.

His drinking was scarcely mentioned during his funeral service, during which he emerged as an awkward, troublesome but kind and generous man who never entirely lost his capacity for friendship.

Other music for the service came from King Creosote, Car Seat Headrest, the Wedding Present and Lily Allen and mourners left the crematorium to the sound of Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers.