Friday, 24 October 2008

Friends Thesis....

I have just spent a good part of this afternoon reading through (not all - yet) the Doctorial Thesis by my friend Kyro Selket.


It is a document I devoured with an outpouring of many emotions - pride in the epic proportions of the task accomplished and humour at the individual 'take' on the approach. It is a document that I know Chris Quigley would like to read.........!

I guess you will have to click and engage in dialogue with Kyro re: her work.

The way in which Kyro speaks about trying to gain access to the funeral premises which she was trying to research, past the conventionally suited, conventional people who worked within them is something speaks volumes about the general 'nice greyness' of the 'Western Funeral Directorate' and Charles would heave a great guffaw if he read Kyro's words. Hooray for her, a proud self confessed Butch Dyke who 'fits in or fits not' - depending on the hue of the grey and the blandness of the mentality she constantly challenges - simply by being present.

I am proud to have been in the 'presence' that is Kyro, at the Death Conference - DDD7 at Bath University in 2005.

It was a very, very good conference; yielding not only Kyro, but my Spouse ('er indoors), who was there as the NSW National Trust cemetery expert and one other, who is now a friend of us both and indeed our doggie. Importantly, this latter conference friend is the person of superior knowledge who I consult on matters of enlightenment....
Who would have guessed that Bath University would come up trumps like that!

Back to Kyro though......she is so worth it!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thanks for my 50th

Well, it's over and dusted.......or is it?
Actually, no it isn't, because on Saturday I am going clay pigeon shooting with a bunch of friends. Er indoors organised it and it is a present from the family folks in Australia.

All in all, it is a fairly radical thing for me to be doing as usually, I 'don't do guns' however, at 50, I have been reliably informed, one can start to do as one I am branching out and giving it a go - I hope (and so do all the friends we have invited), that I am better with a gun than I am at darts - one of them bears a scar on her leg where I once missed the dart-board. I wonder if the same thing applies.....I get good at darts after drinking a pint and 1/2 of Guinness. If I am a bad shot, I can only presume that I could be better 'drunk' it's not something to try out in a crowd.

I digress.....

Only on my birthday could the gifts include several alluding to religion/death:
7 Deadly Sins Chocolates
6 Bastet Cats (why 6 all at once? Why?)
A Coffin Cake - you have seen it....if not, scroll down to the previous age related post.
A tryptich Buddhist icon celebrating (as far as I can tell) the Lotus Sutra and the sermon in the clouds....

There were also:
4 Talking boxes....3 with messages from friends and the other stating "That Was Easy!" Also acquired were several books - the earliest dated somewhere in the 1700s and the favorite being 'Muffin the Mule'. The 'Old-Lady-Pants' were an interesting pre-need aspirational item, the pot with beautiful glaze also doubled as a musical instrument...(I had to blow it just to see), flowers and bottles will sustain the memory of the days of celebration for a while to come. The balloons will deflate before the excitement wears off and the cards will gather dust. I must email thanks to all and sundry. Please note, the blog gets first bash at the thank you one else will understand it!

I wonder how long the rocks will stay on the hill.......

Death Care Industry....

This is an interesting little film...
Enjoy it!

It came to me from a friend via Facebook. The credits are at the end.

By the way.......I want to be the pencils!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Last night in my 40s

Tomorrow when I wake up, I will be 50.

I can't quite believe it but I am excited much so, that I have just spent 2 hours having my hair died pink, blue, orange, blonde and black.......

I decided that was the best way to mark the occasion.


You are the first (apart from the hairdressers) to know.
Even her-indoors doesn't know the extent of the transformation yet.

I have posted a photo............I did promise!

Also one of my 'Happy Birthday in stone' which is how we do things here on the Island of Slingers.......

AND my fantastic Birthday cake......

Party time tonight - a feast at the local posh Indian down the road...then home for champagne and Coffin Cake!
Death is apparent even in our jolly times.......guests include 2 funeral directors an embalmer and a cemetery expert....the cake therefore is highly appropriate don't you reckon?

(One friend thought that it was 'problematic' and 'highly inappropriate for an anniversary' - clearly she won't be coming back for champagne then and very clearly she should know me better - [actually, she did come back for champagne - and sat in the other room bless. I don't know if she ate cake tho]!!!).

Saturday, 18 October 2008

'...a bit of re-cycling...'

I haven't posted for a while, because I am getting used to a new regime of reading and thinking, due to being back at university.

It's a poor excuse on the face of it I know, but I am not yet attuned and anyway, despite being told that I look at everything critically and constantly dissect all matter of issues, thoughts and deeds, of myself and others I might add, I still feel that academic critical thinking is a step beyond my personal 'comfort zone'. One needs to develop the right vocabulary.... and that takes effort. Synapses use an abundance of energy to make new and tentative links in my poor brain. It wears me out. (Or is it simply a lack of time management skills?)......

At the moment I am deeply immersed in Buddha - essentially the way in which
nirvana is conceived in the Nichiren Tradition. I won't go on about it - well frankly, when plotting an essay, I always think it best to internalise as much as possible and only 'splurt' words when the concept is well past the embryonic stage.

The point is - following on from the last post, it strikes me that re-cycling might be quite a Buddhist concept...multiple re-births and all that. Perhaps not so much in the Nichiren tradition however; I get the feeling that Nichiren is more about infinite possibility, dynamic unity and encompassing wholeness through Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo...It's dangerous to expose the astounding gaps in ones own knowledge - I hope that a suitable quantum filling of Bodisattva is present somewhere in the relationship between my ku ke and chu

I'll let you know if I find any; alternatively, if any of you are so enlightened......please do share it with the rest of us!!!

Or, and I'll leave you with this; is the answer to enlightenment really as simple as Nichiren said...after all?

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lucky lucky lucky...

I've had a busy morning since the 'Missiz' went off to work. I transformed the kitchen - with a lot of help from 'friend-next-door'.

Thing is, that the dishwasher broke - it sounded OK but the dishes were coming out dirty, which clearly wasn't the best option. After it happened half a dozen times, I thought it best to have a change. Mind you, the old dishwasher belonged originally to 'friend-next-door's gran. Then it washed mugs for the workers in 'friend-next-door's' dad's office. Then, it was in 'friend-next-door's' has since lived with me for about 7 years. All in all, it was clearly a machine made to last; (they were made to last in those days!!!) and we were quite sorry to have had to take it to the dump.

I moved the fridge to make room for the new machine, which is as I type, whirring around and doing its stuff for the first time here in its new home. Oh yes - I forgot to say - the 'new' machine has been in my store for a year; it previously belonged to 'friend-next-door's' mum and dad, who 'got rid of it' when they moved house.
So far, it hasn't produced a puddle on the floor - which is of course a brilliant sign!

The freezer - I ought to mention, came from some other friends over the back wall, after it became surplus to requirements; the sink and work-tops came from the chemistry lab refurb at a local college (complete with Bunsen-burner hole). All the cupboards are made or re-cycled. Life is like that here - give and take, share things round. Friend-next-door uses my storage space and in exchange, puts things my way. It makes for a comfortable existence, no frills and no H.P.... in our little community, to have endless 'things' simply in order to impress the neighbours, has the exact opposite effect.

I consider that we are very lucky; life is good and so are the friends we have the honour of sharing it with. I have pity on those with complicated lives who consider that they are judged on what they have, rather than who cares about them.

Oh - and you can forget the previous post about an 'expensive' Eco-pod coffin, don't you think it would be more in keeping for me to have a re-cycled pine box? I recon I could probably russel-up enough friends to carry it - save paying the 'dismal men'!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Measuring Up

There has been a good deal of measuring up in recent days, or has it been just measuring down as we wonder quizzically what Iceland has done with the vast investments entrusted to their banks by UK Local Authorities!

Icesave said that they weren't involved in the 'Sub-Prime-Market' - what is happening in this curious world?

Daniel Defoe, said in The Political History of the Devil, 1726:

"Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed."

Measuring is simpler by eye I suggest - but I am wondering, is it only the Mortician in me that can tell what size coffin you would fit in, just by looking at you?

At this rate, no one is going to be able to afford to die, let alone travel in taxis!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


I was watching the news before going to sleep tonight and the Credit-Crunch Crisis was on. Some very personable but clearly a little stressed American Senator was being asked if the 'deal' was going to go through.

He said that "Humpty-Dumpty needed to be put back together again..." which made me laugh out loud and when I awoke in the middle of the night I lay awake thinking about it all.

I'm not awake because I am worried - my stock broker (haha, I have one - for now at least!!!), has had sleepless nights for the first time in 20 years, but not me. I just watch from the sidelines and wonder how 'they' (whoever 'they' are) ever managed to do the maths that enabled so many to borrow so much, without any means to pay it back.

I am totally innumerate - a legend of the arithmetic test (0% average)....but even I can see that the equation was never destined to work. My stock broker was right when he said that in his opinion "...there just isn't the intellect - at the top."

I have been in several Humpty-Dumpty situations myself.

As an embalmer, you get to appreciate the fragility of the human head when it comes into contact with a solid obstacle at speed. I know I have mentioned that several academics have criticised us as doing violence and invading the bodily space of the deceased as part of our work (Hallam et al, 1999, p.130), but frankly, if it was me and my child had been killed in an accident, I think I would be glad that someone just quietly set about spending hours putting Humpty-Dumpty back together, so that I could spend some last times with them before the oh so awful, premature, funeral.

Memory is a precious resource, I think of several of my accident restoration folk quite frequently. Them, and also those that I remember having visited them in chapel - the ones, who left behind in thier grief, never knew that I had been told that it would be an 'impossible job', when I collected thier precious dead from the hospital mortuary.

What's the world economy when it's weighed against the life of a teenager - or anyone for that matter?

Not a lot...

Hallam,E; Hockey,J; Howarth,G. (1999). Beyond the Body: Death and Social Identity. London and New York. Routledge.