Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Trying to squeeze the last pennies out of my insurance providers, I've searched the net, high and low, for the best deals in home and auto insurance. I don't know how many price comparison websites I've graced with my presence - telling them my age, inside leg measurements and preferred method of payment. Somewhere in my quest for "best value, complete satisfaction and 100% UK based call centres" I must have hit upon Swinton.
I may have forgotten about them, but they sure as hell haven't forgotten about me.
Today I received this reassuring e-mail from them: "Plan for the future with a Funeral Expenses Plan from Swinton" It continued in a similar surrealist vein "A Funeral Expenses Plan from Swinton, for peace of mind when it matters most."
I found it difficult to understand the workings of the mind that came up with those choice phrases. Future and Funeral seem to me to be mutually exclusive, and so far as needing peace of mind when it matters most - I'll be so peaceful no one will be able to wake or worry me!
But it got me thinking. Maybe I ought to look into this.
The first site I came upon was The Cooperative FuneralCare - "We're with you every step of the way" they claim reassuringly. Frankly if I'm paying them to handle my last journey I'd expect them to accompany me to the graveside or crem.
They have such helpful vignettes like "What would you want for your funeral?" answer "I want Elvis to play me out." Wrong! I want a 20 year delay...
I next went to Simplicity Golden Funeral Directors; specialists in low cost funerals. They're a bit like Ryan Air of the Dead; the very basic is cheap but the extras soon mount up. £60 to remove a pacemaker. Why?Is there a market in second hand pacemakers?
My eye was drawn to the next undertakers: "Eric F Box Ltd" They've been putting people in the ground for 150 years. So they must have learnt something like "A funeral is one of life's most personal events." Oh that's interesting. Not the most personal and, not to put a too fine a point on it, last event of one's life.
I rather like John McNeil Funeral Directors in Stranraer, Scotland. There you are scrolling down their site looking at the details of an all inclusive funeral, memorials and wedding cars!!!! Those canny Scots: always on the lookout for a new business angle.
But my vote goes to F A Albin and Sons. It's quite a shock going to their website, because the last thing you expect is to be greeted by three smiling jack the lads. What with Barry's diary which is enough to make you want to curl up and die and the unintended humour in their advice page which stresses "never be afraid that it is too soon to contact us", this is a killer site.
To my mind the most telling lines about dying and death are by Dylan Thomas:
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
But then the Welsh knew a lot about dying.