As this instalment opens with a long, slow pan of rolling hills and peaks, for a moment I think I'm watching an episode of Jimmy McGovern's brilliant series The Lakes. My wishful dream is broken, though, by the strains of Pulp's Common People coming from the stereo of Stuart's Jeep, as he and Vince playfully fight over a crumpled map while turning the Jeep around, having taken a wrong turn. Watching the scene unfold with me is an old man, standing in the road with a dog and a walking stick, wearing a frown similar to mine as he observes the two men. As he drives the Jeep past him, Stuart blows the old man a kiss; the old guy's frown holds for two beats, and then melts into a smile -- unlike mine.
The Jeep finally pulls up next to a church and its attached cemetery -- where Phil's funeral is to be held -- and Stuart is such a crappy, negligent parker that I find myself feeling quite irrationally annoyed. I know it's only a TV show, but parking three feet from the curb on a diagonal is a really bad example to set for a whole generation of kids who are watching this show and growing up to think that that sort of thing is okay and natural and normal. Well, it is normal -- judging by the shitty parking jobs I see all around me -- but it's definitely not okay. Anyway. Stuart and Vince get out of the car, and Stuart takes his shirt off; yes, this is outside the church (I'm just pretending here that you're surprised -- play along, okay?). Then, Vince starts complaining about how he didn't really know Phil that well, and doesn't want to do the reading. "I've only been to his house twice. And who plans their own funeral?" he asks. "It's mad!" Changing into a proper shirt, tie and jacket, Stuart looks at him pointedly. "You've done it," he reminds Vince. "Like I said, it's mad!" Vince repeats. Um, okay, hands up if you think that Vince's funeral will feature a prominent Doctor Who theme. Anyway, Stuart's making it all about him again, so let's get back to it. "That's three," he says. "Three what?" asks Vince. "Three men I've shagged that have died," Stuart answers. "Not a bad ratio, all things considered." As Vince reels from the shock (and the audience doesn't), Hazel and Bernard pull up beside the Jeep, Alexander standing up through the sunroof. "Where's the do?" he asks in typical Alexander fashion.
As they make their way into the church, Stuart is on the phone with Sandra, his secretary, telling her that he can't write any ad copy at the moment, as he's at a funeral. Sandra, knowing not to trust Stuart any further than you can throw his ego, doesn't believe him. "Listen, organ music," he says, holding up his cell phone so that she can hear. Just then, some cheesy 70's era dance music (which I couldn't identify; I'll leave it to someone who was born back then to figure it out) blares from a stereo, and Stuart tells Sandra, "Of course it's not a party. I can't help it if he was cheap, can I?" He and Vince then seat themselves in a pew directly behind a rather delicious-looking boy with olive skin and dark hair. Rowr. Stuart, who doesn't require an invitation, has already begun to size him up. Not getting too wrapped-up in other people's problems, he still manages to think of himself in this time of need. "I'm getting buried," he tells Vince. "People cry more at burials. I want them sobbing their guts out."