Burial of a commoner



Perusing the classified ads at the weekend, as I often do, I came across an advertisement for a burial plot. Two thousand pounds. 2k. £2000. However you look at it, however you write it down, for the ordinary person that is a heck of a lot of money when you consider that is just the plot. It does not include a coffin, all the fancy gubbins that go inside like lining etc. It does not include the funeral home which seems to be the default modern day name for an undertakers. Home, funny that. You stay there for a few days and you don’t even live there. Then the cars, or some kind of transport. The ridiculously slow funeral limousines to transport your family, seemingly just to make sure people stop and stare or feel awkward. Few lower their hats today, not enough people wear formal hats for that to happen.

The ensuing fuss and flurry around the reinterment of Richard III reminded me of the classified ad. Reminded me that for most of us the fuss will be that kind of clinging on by your grubby broken nails stuff wondering if you can afford to give your loved one a reasonably decent send off. How much will the organist charge for playing the organ, will you have cars or will it just be a taxi for the more distant relatives? Maybe you have saved up and will have, like I saw once in Woodgate, a black horse drawn cart followed not far behind with a coach full of mourners all dressed in black. Will your budget limit you to three letters spelling out BRO or MAM or will you afford the whole name?

We won’t have film cameras, helicopters circling overhead, soundbites from local dignitaries. Instead we shall have people talking in hushed tones Les Dawson style, and readers of the announcements in the Mercury will read our names and wonder if they knew us. Curtains may twitch but the streets will not be lined with crowds of onlookers.

The reinterment of Richard III has made me consider the deaths of ordinary people. Nobody on the reinternment day will be stricken with grief, nobody will be heartbroken. There will be no-one there whose family is shattered to pieces or whose life will have been changed beyond recognition.


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