The Perfect Duet

Nick agrees to move back to the flat while Leanne moves to Stella’s with Simon; Tracy, Rob and Amy play happy families; Maddie kisses Sophie, and Steve and Michelle avert a catering disaster in time for Hayley’s wake. But the true focus of the day has to be Hayley’s final farewell and the celebration of her life.

As her neighbours line the street, their regard can clearly be seen; Norris thoughtfully sports the bow tie he wore when they danced together at the town hall, everyone dons bright attire with some wearing her favourite colour, red, while Mary is magnificent in a marvellous flamenco dress. With Hayley’s love of dancing and colour represented, Mary’s outfit celebrates her quirky eccentricity.

As Carla views the arrival of the hearse from Roy’s flat, there is a colourful sticker of a horsefly hovering over flowers on the window, and this is symbolic of a theme that will run throughout Hayley’s celebration; her desire to become one with, and be remembered in nature. “She wanted to melt back into the earth she said, be recycled by nature” Mary observes as her coffin, beautifully emblazoned with flowers, glides into view. If she wished to be found in nature, Hayley’s personality is fittingly reflected in the bright, sunny day as she makes her way to the ceremony where Suzie is waiting with a “host of golden daffodils”. It was Hayley’s dream to live to see the daffodils in spring, so having them form part of her farewell is wonderfully apt. As her factory friends lift her coffin, the daffodils are beautifully illuminated by the sunshine.

Hayley has chosen Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now as her entrance music to make everyone chuckle. A song evoking such a passion for life as Hayley had seems appropriate, and we can easily imagine her “floating around in ecstasy… a shooting star leaping through the skies”.

Hayley asked Roy to be her eyes and heart, and as long as she remains with him in this way, she will never leave him, and can be found in every beautiful thing. This is reflected in Mary Elizabeth Frye’s wonderful poem Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep which is read out with great ardour by Carla.

Hayley is the diamond glints on snow, the sunlight on ripened grain and the soft stars that shine at night. Like the poem says, she won’t be found at her grave, but in all of these beautiful things that make life joyous, thus ensuring that she has not died. The fact that her burial is not depicted assists in considering her thus.

Fiz’s touching eulogy recalls Hayley’s understanding of “what it was to be yourself and to have a voice in the world.” However, she’s interrupted by Roy who declares that people deserve to know the truth. It’s quite a cliffhanger to end the first episode on, and we breathe a collective sigh of relief when he realises it’s time to focus on remembering what Hayley meant to him. “She was my light, my beautiful coruscating light” he tells the mourners, “ My life was a dark corner, then she came into it and…I could see the world with her…I understood love…Hayley was my truth.” He is overcome as the prospect of life without her becomes too much to bear.

Daffodils are placed on Hayley’s coffin by each friend as a symbol of the relationship they had with her. Wordsworth’s poem which Roy lovingly read to her just weeks previously is upliftingly relevant as, should anyone find themselves wandering “lonely as a cloud”, they will have the beauty of nature to console them, where Hayley can be found, “continuous as the stars that shine”.

For her final farewell, she chooses the second movement of Bach’s double violin concerto. “I know this will be a surprise Roy”, Suzie tells him, “she remembered you telling her how violins were the instrument closest to the human voice, and that this was the perfect duet.” As Roy listens, we contemplate the perfect duet that was Roy and Hayley. After the service, Tyrone finds him alone, and reunites him with his bag; it’s notable that he hadn’t realised it was missing.

The Rovers is similarly brightened by the cheery faces of spritely daffodils for Hayley’s wake. As Audrey observes, “She really was his one and only”, and Peter ponders Plato’s theory, that Zeus split us down the middle, and that we are destined to spend life searching for our other halves, it’s unbearable to contemplate Roy’s loss.

As he’s surrounded by well-wishers in the Rovers, his expression belies the sad truth that it’s possible to be lonely in a room full of people. Carla raises a toast, including a message from Hayley; “stop moping about and have a good old party”. Norris and Mary honour her request with a dance. As the strains of The Carpenters’ Close to You fill the Rovers, everyone pauses to remember, sing, and hold one another, and Suzie’s words come to mind; “we’re all part of one human community, and no one of us is independent or separate”.

As the lyric “why do stars fall down from the sky” rings out, the stars that shine in Don’t Stop Me Now, Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep, and Daffodils align as a heartbroken Roy takes his bag and slips out of the Rovers into the night. As he goes, his lonely shadow disappears through the frosted glass, but we know that, like his shadow, Hayley will always walk alongside him. Fiz and Anna later find a note to say he has gone to stay with Sylvia. Loud sirens wailing as he walks down a crowded street, he appears so vulnerable, but we can take solace in the fact that Hayley, his coruscating light, has assured her presence in the stars which will shine above him, always.

By Emma Hynes

Twitter: @ELHynes

One comment

  1. Such a moving summary

    Susan Morris, Trustee
    The Natural Death Centre Charity, @ndccharity
    Educational charity which sees death as a natural part of life. Founded in 1991, it is committed to supporting cultural change and is working towards a situation where all people are empowered in the process of dying, and organising a funeral.


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