This I decided when I eventually found the crematorium this morning - if only AA routefinder gave H and V numbers for Milton Keynes... fortunately I had heaps of time, found some helpful council gardeners and my mother survived me shouting at her that there was no point saying 'that way looks good' when she had no more clue than I did.
Maybe the deep sadness of a young man with only seven people to mourn him (plus his cousin to officiate) added to the sense of the event, and it was a cold, damp, grey, old kind of a day. Logistically, whilst I'm not keen, the crematorium is very well laid out, unlike one I've been to in Warwickshire where corteges 'cross' mourners returning to their cars. But it felt horribly clinical and cold (despite a red hot waiting room). Hard tiles on which shoes clatter; completely bare, almost white walls; a tiny cross high on a stark wall; clumsy wooden pews not quite designed for the purpose; oh, and a little silver cover for the curtain button in case you inadvertently pressed it before you meant to... Add to the that the very basic coffin, starkly unadorned, and the ache of bereavement was probably the most intense I've ever sensed in such a place. The staff were incredibly helpful and kind, the acoustics worked well and the garden area for viewing flowers (had their been any) was tastefully arranged. There was nothing wrong with it at all, it is a well conceived, functional crematorium, I just didn't like it.
So I conclude I'm a crematorium snob! I like places where the mourners can move completely indoors from waiting area to chapel, where there is carpet to soften the foot falls and something other than stark walls and a coffin to look at. I can cope with the odd failed lightbulb, I've decided (though it annoys me!), and even slight shabbiness because somehow it softens the clinical feel of a conveyor belt system. I have my preferred crematoria and one I really dislike (which wasn't today's) and realise that no one size fits all. Despite my snobbery, and despite the incredible sadness I felt today (more because of the situation than the place) the undertakers and crematorium staff were superb which, ultimately is more important.