English: Technicians prepare a body for cryopr...

English: Technicians prepare a body for cryopreservation. Español: Técnicos preparando un cuerpo para preservación criogénica. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human cryopreservation has been in the news recently, but the process is not new. Individuals have been frozen in time for decades, hoping that one day medical science will find a cure for their incurable diseases, and thus they will be thawed, repaired and sent on their merry way! Tempted by immortality, even rich, healthy people have opted for cryofreezing upon death as opposed to a burial or cremation. I personally don’t fancy my blood replaced with a chemical solution that would kill me if I took it in my food. However, the main reason I wouldn’t entertain being frozen, is that the planet Earth is in a poor state of repair, is vastly over-populated and is in turmoil. The place isn’t going to get any better, so why would I want to thawed out in say 200 years, if indeed it was possible? The likelihood is I’d get mugged the moment I’d exit the cryogenic centre! If there are any men out there who are considering cryopreservation, do make sure your cock is in a flaccid state, otherwise, at 200Kelvin you might find it snaps off!

When considering cryopreservation it helps of course if you don’t believe in the soul. Spokespersons of established religions will be opposed to the process, for when one dies, the soul (life force) is believed to leave one’s body, never to return. It follows, if a cryopreserved body is ever successfully thawed, it will be returned to the land of the living…soulless!

If of course you are interested in cryopreservation but lack the funds, you could always go the DIY route and buy a chest freezer with surge protection. Since likely as not you will end up being frozen in time by a third-party…your blood replaced with automotive anti-freeze, it would be best to be cryofrozen by someone who actually likes you!


mother earth

Having scarred the surface of the planet from war and plundered its natural resources in order for us to enjoy our creature comforts, it’s only right and proper that we one day pay our debt for using and misusing the environment, don’t you think? So instead of only paying lip service to ‘environmental concerns’, why not consider an ecological burial? It is based on a new combination of tried-and-tested techniques that prepare the corpse for a natural process of decomposition. According to Promessa Organic Burials, the procedure is justifiable in terms of ethical, moral, environmental and technical considerations, and does not subject the body to violent or destructive handling. In other words, your remains are respected, as is the ground you lay in!

While avoiding harmful embalming fluid which probably gives Mother Nature acid reflux, the body is preserved in a biological form after death. Our body’s fluids (70%) are removed, before the corpse is first frozen to minus 18 degrees Celsius and then freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen. Vibration then transforms our brittle remains into an organic powder. The now dry powder then passes through a metal separator where any surgical spare parts and mercury are removed.

The remains are now ready to be laid in a coffin made of corn starch. The organic powder, which is hygienic and odourless, does not decompose when kept dry. The burial takes place in a shallow grave in living soil that turns the coffin and its contents into compost in about 6-12 months time. If you so wish, a bush or tree can be planted above the coffin. The compost formed can then be taken up by the plant, aiding the ecological cycle.

*While writing off one’s debt to the environment, I am surprised ecological burials aren’t compulsory the world over! There is nothing the earth hates more than embalming fluid or a metal hip-joint! I mean, what the f**k is Mother Nature expected to do with that?


English: North Devon Crematorium Barnstaple

English: North Devon Crematorium Barnstaple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No more dignity in death I am afraid! On the basis of ‘time is money’, Council-run North Devon Crematorium in Barnstaple will add the additional charge of £147:00 to the cost of a ceremony if the time between the hearse arriving and the last mourners’ cars departing exceeds 40 minutes. And the excess charge is being sent to the funeral directors, some of who are not passing on the charge to relatives, but this practice won’t last.

One Martin Williams, procurement and services delivery manager at North Devon Council which runs the crematorium, explained that funerals are booked in 40 minute slots. Services should last 30 minutes, allowing an additional 10 minutes for mourners to come and go. But he said that services can be extended by an additional 30 minutes if prearranged. He said: ‘It is the funeral director’s responsibility to assess the bereaved family’s needs and book the appropriate length of service accordingly.’

Hold the phone Joan! How on earth are funeral directors expected to know how many eulogists might wish to heap praise upon the deceased, or for that matter, scorn, especially when some funerals may be arranged at the last minute. From my experience of attending cremations, once the service is concluded, many of the mourners choose to hang around and converse. Furthermore, I have yet to witness a car park with say…50 to 100 cars empty in 10 minutes! This £147:00 add-on is another example of a stealth tax!

Presumably, when the remains of a deceased have cooled down sufficiently…enabling a bereaved party to take charge of them without the need to wear oven gloves…having returned to the scene of the crem’, the North Devon Crematorium will no doubt allocate the bereaved 90 seconds from car park to ‘pick-up point’ before an additional ‘waiting’ charge is incurred!



Mel Blanc's headstone at the "Hollywood F...

Mel Blanc’s headstone at the “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” in Southern California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People seem to be dropping like flies around me. Over the last five years I’ve attended more funerals than in the previous twenty. Despite the advances in medical science, friends, relatives and mere acquaintances of mine are passing over while still in their prime. I therefore feel that I am in a better position than most to comment on cemeteries. They really are ghost towns you know! Few graves are ever visited and many gravestones are in a poor state of repair. No one has ever queued to get into a cemetery, and that’s as it should be I suppose.

We’ve done STONE…we’re onto metals and plastics! My idea is to abandon granite in favour of plastic and neon epitaphs that not only glow in the dark, but actually change colour. Ridiculous yes, but so what, do we not live in a ridiculous world? You could I suppose go further and sell advertising space: ‘GO GOOGLE,’ or ‘MICROSOFT WINDOWS 8,‘  ‘GOING…GOING…GONE, LONELY PLANET TRAVEL’ or ‘FLY VIRGIN’…perhaps not, that might send out the wrong message, but by UPLIFTING headstones…which after all should be celebrating the life of a deceased, you might encourage relatives to visit more than once a decade. Mark my words, plastic neon lit gravestones will become the norm. Perhaps not in our lifetimes, but it will happen, so much so, that in the not too distant future a photograph of a glowing graveyard at night will win a national photographic competition.


Cremated remains at sea on the USS Donald Cook...

Cremated remains at sea on the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), May 1, 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a report commissioned by Sun Life Direct, and carried out by Mintel market research, the cost of DYING in the UK has risen to an average £7,622…a 7.1% increase on last year. The figure, which includes costs such as probate, headstones and flowers as well as the funeral… yes, let’s not forget the bleedin’ funeral…varies significantly depending upon where you kick the bucket. London is the most expensive at £9,556. Well what a surprise! Wales apparently is the least expensive place in which to croak, with an average cost of £6,096.

The cost of a funeral has also increased by 5.3% since last year to £3,456, or 80% higher than in 2004, with the average burial costing £3,914 and a cremation costing £2,998. It has been suggested that society’s obese, of whom there are many, require longer in an oven. I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment.

The Sun Life Direct commissioned report suggests that this year’s increase was mainly due to a rise in cremation and burial fees, which are usually controlled by local authorities. No surprise there either! What tax you don’t pay while you live, you pay once you die! According to the Mintel report, burial fees have risen by 69% since 2007 and cremation fees by 51%. Funeral ‘extras’ considered to be flowers, catering and limousines now cost £2,006. For those suffering from ‘funeral poverty’, the Government’s Social Fund only offers £700 towards a funeral…huh, hardly enough to get you up to gas mark 4!

That’s it, I can’t afford to die, so I shan’t bother! I’m not about to leave thousands of pounds for someone to use to bury me. Several people have attested to the fact that I’m a miserable bastard. Satisfied that not a soul will visit me once I’m interred, an inflatable headstone, full of water and goldfish will be quite satisfactory thank you very much!

Hold the phone Joan! Am I not an atheist? Why would I care if I’m buried in unconsecrated ground? On the other hand, why would I leave £3000 for my cremation when there is a chance my cadaver won’t be cremated singly! Ashes occasionally presented to a relative consist of remains of several different people. Furthermore, if I decide to donate my internal organs to medical science, there wouldn’t be a lot left of me to actually cremate. Therefore, would it be considered bad taste to ask for a crematory DISCOUNT prior to my demise?

If I’m forced to put money aside for a burial or cremation, I’d rather it be used to send the ashes of my unearthly remains into outer space. Fly me to the Moon baby!


Detail of The Death of Socrates. A disciple is...

Detail of The Death of Socrates. A disciple is handing Socrates a goblet of hemlock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people are of the opinion that otherwise physically healthy individuals who commit suicide (for whatever reason) are cowards and are to be held in contempt. Unless you’ve been down on your luck to the extent that you contemplate killing yourself, you really cannot imagine the pain one goes through. Personally, I believe it takes a great deal of courage to attempt suicide, which probably explains why most attempts involve drink or drugs, or both. It takes as much courage to attempt to kill onerself as it does to refrain from doing so, for when in torment, to choose to continue to face what life throws at you is courage indeed.


English: The Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop. Sta...

English: The Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop. Staged by Guy Hersant Français : L’atelier Kane Kwei et son personnel. Mise en scène: Guy Hersant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fantasy or figurative coffins are a big deal in Ghana, and many are considered works of art, and have even been displayed in Western art galleries. Some represent a deceased’s profession, while other figurative coffins represent clan totems. As with status anywhere, only the heads of the families concerned are permitted to be buried in costly, elaborately decorated coffins such as these. Fancy being buried in a boat, a piano or a brightly coloured car? As head of my family…a family of one, I fancy being buried in a lobster, in that it is my favourite food! Unfortunately I can’t imagine any local authority or cemetery board allowing me to have my own way, can you? England remains tiny, and it’s getting smaller every day due to coastal erosion. Plus of course many of the cemeteries are already full, or pushed for space. ‘Besides’, a jobsworth might say, ‘in England we mourn a passing, we don’t celebrate it. Perhaps you should pop over to Ireland?‘ Perhaps I should opt for a mini-grand piano…that’s a space-saver, isn’t it?


English: Picture of the Norwegian Parliament.

English: Picture of the Norwegian Parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagination is a wonderful thing, however sometimes it should be curbed in the interests of good taste! Martin McSherry, a student at the Royal Danish School of Architecture, has earned a commendation for his plans to build Norway’s first vertical cemetery, in a country whose graveyards are full. Martin McSherry’s idea of stacking coffins in a high-rise tower was praised as a highly original contribution at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards (how utterly f**king catchy). “The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a daily reminder of death’s sentence.” McSherry’s words, not mine! No doubt everyone’s route to work would be adjusted to avoid the inter-denominational mausoleum! Apparently each religious group would have a different floor of the building. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Jediism etcetera, etcetera! Presumably the Catholics might confuse their floor with purgatory? In conclusion, I must say this! Could Martin McSherry been on the sherry when he came up with this ludicrous idea? I’m not surprised I’ve not heard of any successful Scandinavian stand-up comedians!


Crime Scene Tape

Crime Scene Tape (Photo credit: Null Value)

Charging $5000 a time, David O’Brian runs the academy for potential ‘Trauma Scene Medical Waste Practitioners’  in Nevada. It is a workshop teaching students to clean up murder, suicide and crime scenes.

His team splatter animal blood on the walls and mattresses, faecel matter on the floors, congealed brain matter from chicken fat and litter the place with maggots and flies. Really? Sounds to me like a scene from chef Gordon Ramsey’s TV series Hell’s Kitchen!


I tried a new ortho. mattress…rubbish! Still can’t sleep, and my back is killing me! Desperate, I walked into ‘CROOK BROS. UNDERTAKERS’ located in the Goldhawk Road, London, W11. Business must have been slack for I only smelled life and not death.

Can I help you Sir?” a young-looking mortician asked.

Indeed you can,” I replied.  “I need a coffin off of you.”

My condolences Sir. Might I enquire as to who has passed?”

Err, no, you don’t understand,” I said. “NO one has actually passed away.”

A member of your family is ABOUT to then?”

I have no family,” I replied. “I was suckled by a jackal and the jackal has since been released back into the wild. So you see, I am quite alone.”

Then what precisely can I do for you?”

I told you,” I said.  “I require the use of a coffin!”

Use of a…”

I mean, I’ll BUY one.”

Then if you would like to follow me into our showroom?”

Oh, I would. I certainly would!” I did too.

Why I could hardly contain myself. What a place to have a hard-on! There were coffins to the left of me and coffins to the right of me. The place was one big COUGH‑in; Oak, Rosewood, Walnut, Cedar, Knotty Pine, Mahogany, Acacia, Cyprus, Lebenham and Olive Wood. The rain forest at my fingertips, I was spoilt for choice.

I’m impressed,” I said, and truly I was. “Got anything ASBESTOS lined?” I got that look again. “Hey, I’m a heavy smoker,” I replied.

Naturally Sir, some models are more expensive than others.”

Well,” I said, “One cannot put a price on comfort!”  Introduced to the Eternity ‘Slumberland’ range of caskets, I viewed the ‘Cumberland 2002’, the ‘Windsor 1160’, the ‘Kensington 560’, the ‘Knightsbridge 420B’ and the ‘Mayfair 1220A’. They SHOUTED quality. How come dining room furniture isn’t made to the same high standard, huh? Running my fingers along a lacquered Rosewood casket, I asked the mortician if he minded me trying one out for size. I slipped off my loafers.

Twenty minutes later and I made my choice. It would be the Kensington 560 knotty pine casket for me. Why knotty pine?  It matched the skirting in the bedroom.

Home…garage…coffin…stairs…bedroom. Phew! Tired, I retired to the coffin for three whole days and three whole nights only to spent most of the time tossing and turning. Can a casket be TOO comfortable? I would have tried counting sheep, but after that last foot and mouth epidemic, I couldn’t find any. Necessity still being the mother-f**ker of invention, I decided I needed something with a HISTORY attached to it.

Dressed in old clothing, I headed off towards the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Cemetery, located in Merton, Surrey. After my father Jack had cremated himself in his laboratory his remains had been buried there, but unable as I was to recall the exact row and plot number, I was unable to pay my respects to my former Daddy.

Equipped with shovel and torch, I hid behind a headstone and waited for the conclusion of a stone setting ceremony. Who was under my feet? ‘Here lies ‘Little Mo’ Finklebaum, the Mozart of the accordion. Both his good counsel and his music will be sorely missed by family and friends alike. God bless Mo. Death is only the beginning.’ That’s easy for the living to say!

Once the Kaddish had been recited, the deceased’s family members and friends each placed a pebble on the grave and then left. With nine horizontal lines and nine vertical lines the set up reminded me of a Wei-Ch’I board (Go). But for the fact that the pebbles were indistinguishable, I would have made a winning move.

It was dusk and I worked swiftly. Little Mo could stay buried. I dug up plot number 12, row 76.  As luck would have it the casket was knotty pine too and by the looks of it, woodworm free. Easily embarrassed in social situations, I hoped the occupant and I were not acquainted.  

I jumped into the grave and prised open the lid. The deceased was thin, very thin. It was in fact a skeleton. Highly inappropriately, he or she had been buried with a copy of Dickens ‘Great Expectations’, together with a gold pocket watch and a carton of Benson & Hedges, no lighter. It bugged me how so many smokers carried cigarettes, but no lighter.

Closing the lid, I lifted up one end of the coffin. Leaning it up against the grave wall, I got hold of the other end, lifted that up before pushing the casket out of the grave. Jumping out, I regarded my new sleeping quarters. My, my, it could have been made to measure for me! Opening the lid again, I tipped the skeleton into the hole in the ground. As luck would have it a kneecap came adrift and landed by my feet. It appeared to be titanium. Buffed up, I decided it would make for a useful ashtray. Hey, a smoker can never have too many ashtrays about the house. Having re-filled the grave, I dragged the coffin back to where I had concealed my car.

Home…garage…coffin…stairs…bedroom! Boy, I was getting good at it. Busying myself with a can of  ‘Mister Sheen’ and a rag, I shined my bed. I’d fit a draft excluder and a cat flap at some later date. Task complete, I placed two 75 litre bags of compost inside it to act as bedding and finally got to try the coffin out. Initially I was unimpressed. It felt…LUMPY. I reached into my pocket, took out the ashtray and threw it out onto the carpet. Result? FAN‑BLOODY‑TASTIC Coffiny was comfortable and roomy. With only one previous occupant, and with probably less than one hundred miles on the clock, (from the mortuary to the graveyard), I felt I had acquired a bargain. Well, I had. David slept like a log.    


English: Margaret Thatcher, former UK PM. Fran...

English: Margaret Thatcher, former UK PM. Français : Margaret Thatcher 日本語: 「鉄の女」サッチャー英首相 Nederlands: Margaret Thatcher Svenska: Margaret Thatcher som oppositionsledare 1975 Русский: Маргарет Тэтчер, бывшая премьер-министр Великобритании (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was pleased to hear that the cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral was only £3.6 million. I’m glad the Government decided to DOWNSIZE. Uncle Jerry told me that when he dies he wants to be buried in a simple wicker coffin. I said that I could do better than that. I offered Uncle Jerry a hanging basket.