I was on the bus the other day, gazing vacantly out of the window as you do, when I caught sight of a funeral parlour’s window display. The dramatic backlighting stood out even more brightly, as it was a dull morning, shining splendidly on a glittering pink… coffin. Behind, a white one, shoulder to shoulder with a sleek black model and the traditional mahogany…
I recently watched a programme where a lady pre-ordered her coffin and paid for it to be entirely covered in Swarovski crystals. There is moey to be made even in death…I didn’t know that coffins are actually the customary slope shouldered ones you automatically associate with Halloween; while caskets are the long rectangular box shaped ones.
On my way to visit Alex at university, I was intrigued to see a signpost for a Natural Burial Ground. Of course I had to look this up, but effectively, it is exactly what it says it is. Consider this – every year, thousands of gallons of embalming fluid are seeping into Mother Earth as people are buried and embalmed in the usual way, slowly poisoning her. Formaldehyde is one of the fluids used during the process and is in actual fact a carcinogen…likewise, look at the consumption of endangered hardwood trees just to make coffins, while cremation undoubtedly contributes towards air pollution.
On the other hand, with a natural burial you are wrapped in a shroud made from natural fibres, without your body being treated by any chemical preservatives and so on, and then you are returned to the arms of Mother Earth, where you can be naturally re-absorbed, broken down, resuming your primal state. Having looked at it…it does have a certain appeal….
Apparently, now that I’ve given up smoking my life expectancy has increased. I must confess, though, I kind of miss my nicotine shield….germs and illnesses courtesy of other people seem to come and go without as much as a by-your-leave…I’ve only recently got over the most horrendous bout of pharyngitis that made me cough and rattle like beads in a box and left my chest feeling like a rampage of rhinos had been Riverdancing on my ribcage.
As I sit on the bus during these winter months the variety of coughs you hear is practically symphonic… the dry, high tight-chested cough of the asthmatic… the hoarse bark of the bronchitic and the slapping wet rumble of the dedicated smoker with an incipient chest infection brewing…
The irony is that in all my years as a smoker I never once suffered from the eponymous “smoker’s cough”… and I don’t intend to have a crystal-encrusted coffin either. I told Alex just to put me out with the recycling and give the binmen a fright…!