Tag Archives: death

A Pointless Prompt

Today’s unwelcome writing prompt is timely, bearing in mind my last post. How does death change your perspective?

Well, for one thing, I’d stop buying lottery tickets, and there would be no point in worrying about air quality because I wouldn’t be breathing the stuff anymore. What sort of question is that?

I stopped ironing years ago, as it’s pointless at the best of times, and definitely over the top on the undead. I mean, how many times have you turned on a classic zombie movie (Night of the Living Dead or Cockneys versus Zombies to name but two) to hear someone complain about the rumpled state of the zombie hordes?

Meanwhile, moving back to other matters, I’ve had several culinary mishaps today. A new bottle of ketchup, when opened, proved to have a very tricky action. Squeeze and nothing happens, squeeze a little harder and so much comes out at such speed that you end up comprehensively splattered. Add that to the cream I spilled and the yoghurt drink that misbehaved and it’s clear that if you boiled my jumper in a little water you could produce a passable tomato soup.

You would think that after so many years of producing nozzles for squeezable sauce bottles they would have got it right, but it seems not. You press, nothing happens. You press again, maybe a little less carefully, and nothing happens. Another press, and even though it’s done gingerly, as the conclusion is obvious to all lovers of slapstick, there is a sudden splurge, which ends with too much sauce being dispensed.

The surplus goes anywhere except the intended target, including the front of my jumper and up my sleeve. Even the stuff that goes where it is aimed, is travelling so fast that you can feel the splashback.

The cream merely splashed me as I knocked it off the bottom shelf of the fridge, and the

yoghurt drink missed my mouth in a moment of carelessness. Generally this would have stuck in my beard, but today it run straight over the beard and ended upon my jumper. It is like life hates me today.

Mute Swans at Budby Flash

We all have Two Deaths

I just had a comment on an old post from 2017. It was about a visit I made to a childhood haunt and two brothers that drowned there. Since then I have had two comments from people who also knew them, one of whom I also knew.

This got me thinking about the old saying about us all dying twice, once when we stop breathing and  once when people forget us. It’s slightly more complex than that, as mot people die for the second time when the last person who knew them dies.

Others, such as Marilyn Monroe (to pick one at random) will not die as long as films are shown and Hollywood legends persist. Nor, you hope, will Shakespeare. What of Newton and Einstein? They are well known and legendary, but do we really know them in the same way we know an actor or a playwright?

And how about the bloggers? Laurie will be about for a while because of her books. The rest of us, I feel, are slightly less immortal, though we are likely to persist longer than non-bloggers, though only as pixelated phantoms, until Microsoft withdraws support from the internet and relaunches it as  a pay-per-view service on its latest “new and improved” (sic) version of whatever it is working on at the time. They may, by this time, be pushing for the beatification of Bill Gates, though my enthusiasm for making him eternal ends at contributing to a project to have him stuffed and mounted.

So, what do you think about immortality.

Or having Bill Gates stuffed? He could join Lenin and Jeremy Bentham as part of a triumvirate of strange funereal practices.


I chose swans because the post on Orton Mere used a swan picture (the one at the bottom of this post, to be precise, and because of the connotation of “swan song”.


Day 178

It is 9.30 and still light, although thy sky is starting to turn pink. There is a chill in the air and a feeling that another year is already over when, for me, it doesn’t seem to have begun.

I have just checked the MOT date for the car. I always get to the middle of summer and realise that I have forgotten when it is due. Fortunately it is still six weeks away, which gives me plenty of time. It’s quite useful being able to check these things on line and makes me wonder how we ever managed to run things with only a diary, a memory and a few scraps of paper.

This Wednesday I will be having a blood test, next Wednesday I have an X-Ray to check I am fit for my new medication, and the Wednesday after that I will make arrangements to get the car serviced and  for the test. I need to get it done so that I avoid it clashing with jury service. Fortunately you are able to get it done up to a month before the due date.

That is not exactly an impressive social diary is it? Blood test, X-Ray, car service, jury service . . .

Now, I think, I’m beginning to understand why older people don’t fear death. I’ve never been one of those people who worry about death, as it’s going to happen whether I worry or not, but I have wondered, in a theoretical way, whether it would become a matter of concern as I got older. It hasn’t. As every morning comes round I am just glad to find nothing else has gone wrong. By the time I’ve struggled into my increasingly awkward trousers I find my mind has cleared itself of any thoughts of mortality that may have accumulated during the night.

Of course, if you had my social life, you’d probably feel much the same.


Day 174

I had it all planned in my head. I was going to come home from work, write the blog post, prepare tea, watch quizzes, make tea and then watch a bit more TV before working on the computer.

So I came home, watched a quiz, fell asleep, ate tea (prepared by Julia), watched TV and started frittering time on the computer. It wasn’t quite how I had planned it. I also missed the cut-off time for making changes to my grocery order.

It is now late and I am writing a blog post whilst feeling tired, and remorseful for my lack of energy.

We had an interesting medal brought in this afternoon, along with some cloth arm badges. The medal is named to the Royal Naval Air Service and one of the cloth badges is from the RNAS too. The other two were worn by the same man but are just general naval badges – the chevron is for 3 years service and the anchor is the badge of a Leading Seaman, or Leading Mechanic in this case.

The RNAS was a short-lived organisation, formed in 1914 as an air arm of the Royal Navy and disbanded when it became part of the RAF in April 1918. It was an interesting organisation and carried out various duties in the war, such as strategic bombing, airship flights, anti-submarine warfare, the development of aircraft carriers and it  even had an armoured car unit. From this you may deduce that nobody was really sure what to do with it.

The recipient of the medal is fairly well documented. Born in London, he joined up in 1916 at the age of 18 and served at RAF Cranwell (which was, at the time, a base of the RNAS, despite being in the middle of Lincolnshire), was demobbed in 1919 with the rank of Corporal Mechanic (paid 5 shillings a day) and by 1939 was an engineer in Loughborough who was also a member of the ARP. He died in Worthing in 1966.

Approximately 100 years after his war service ended, his family sold his war medal and uniform badges to us.

RNAS Mechanic’s Arm Badge

They say we all die twice – once when we stop breathing and once when nobody remembers us. Sometimes, when I find details of a medal recipient, it feels like we are helping him live again.


Day 100 (Part 2)

This was the alternative post I was thinking of making today. I was going to post it later but I thought I’f do it then move on.

this morning I lay in be thinking. I often do that on Sunday, then go back to sleep for an hour or two. I have nothing pressing to do and getting up late helps to differentiate Sunday from other days. On other days I may lie in bed and think, but I do it under the pressur of knowing taht I have to get up.

This morning I thought it would be nice to find a Chinese restaurant that serves businessman’s lunches, as they used to be called, and take Julia out on Wednesday. We used to go to one in Matlock when we were out during the week – a no frills two course meal with coffee for very little money. We lost the habit over the years, and it has been a long time since I thought about it.

That led me on to all you can eat buffets and the lesson I learnt that I actually enjoyed them  more if I didn’t fill myself up to the ears. When you are paying a fixed price and presented with a lot of food it is always a temptation. It’s also tempting to fill up on several plates of snacks before attempting to eat several main courses.

The plan I eventually settled on was to eat a good selection of snacks, some pancakes and duck, and then move on to a main course made up of two or three dishes. You still eat plenty that way and get value for money. You don’t however, feel bloated, ill, unable t move or gluttonously greedy. Once I adopted the new method I found myself enjoying the e experience a lot more.

At one time three of us used to joke that we ought to go for one of these buffets and see what the management did. I can, as you may have gathered, shift a lot of food, and it shows. X, as I will refer to him, who was often mistaken for my brother due to size and ginger beard, was similarly placed and Y, the third of us, was built along the lines traditionally used by coopers in making large barrels.

We never did do it. Y died in his 40s, mainly due to an hereditary heart condition. Y died due to diabetes when he was 50, a sad end to man who served in the Territorial Army for 12 years and used to do a couple of ten mile runs a week.

That just leaves me. Sixty three but with a body at least ten, if not twenty years older. I hadn’t until today, really put it all together. It also dawned on me that two of the people who were at Y’s funeral are also dead now. One at 64 as his body just gave out due to weight and lifestyle (much the same as me) and one from a recurrence of his cancer.

It was a sobering thought, and  one that made me think seriously before eating during the day. The only difference between me and the others is that I eat better quality fresh food. Several of them took more exercise than I do, and two or three were probably thinner.

It feels like today was a cross-roads. Sorry for being a bit too serious, but it’s something I want to note down for posterity.

And now I’ve written it down I can forget about it.

Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Newman


You can decide for yourself whether the pictures are about me getting religion or about me collecting medallions. 🙂


Day 57

Spring is definitely starting to show now – lighter mornings, lighter evenings, a bit of brightness and a few more flowers. It’s difficult not to feel happier.

This was slightly moderated by three conversations in the shop today (really yesterday, as I’m writing in the early hours of Sunday morning). One was with a man who had just suffered a death in the family, one with a man whose parents have just been scammed out of their life savings and one with a man who has lived here for many years but still has friends and family in the Ukraine.

This sort of  conversation makes me realise how lucky I am.

I( am, I admit, having to do some thinking about death, mainly whether it makes sense to take out a pre-payment plan for a funeral or not. Clearly it’s cheaper to sort it out and have it all ready for when the time comes, but  what happens if they go out of business between now and the funeral?

I’ve also been thinking about keeping my money safe in years to come. I don’t want to hand it all over to a fraudster, and I don’t want to spend it all on high-priced TV offers, as many of our customers do.  I’m reasonably confident I can keep it safe now, but worry about what I may do in the future. I mainly rely on a bad memory and being disorganised at the moment, meaning I couldn’t hand money over to scammers even if I wanted to, but as I get older and have to get more organised, this may become a problem. Similarly, as an incurable collector I would hate to find myself reaching for the phone to buy over-priced coins.

The coin marketing companies are probably even less moral than the criminals. The criminals are at least honest about their dishonesty, but the coin marketing companies, whilst targeting the elderly, pretend to be coin dealers.

And finally, of course, I don’t have family in the Ukraine. It’s bad enough having to watch what is happening without having to worry about family.

I am not a political blogger, so will leave it there. I do, however, dabble in poetry and would like to draw this Kipling poem to your attention. It’s about dane-geld.  For those of you who don’t need the links I will quote the last verse.

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”


Doctors, Death and Diaries

I had my phone call from the doctor today and I will be picking up my replacement prescription tomorrow. We had a wide-ranging discussion, with him insisting that I’d had the prescription and me insisting that I hadn’t, and that his own receptionists had sworn blind to Julia it wasn’t on their system and we had never handed it in. After asking me if it was possible that I’d had the prescription and forgotten it (I said no) he conceded it was possible it had been mislaid around the practice.

He then laid into me for not following up on a year-old blood test which shows me have worryingly high levels of something I didn’t quite catch.

“When I rang for those results,” I said, “I was told it was all good and didn’t need any action.”

“Ah, we seem to have coded it wrong.” he said.

I’m definitely going to start keeping a diary of my dealings with the NHS from now on. It’s quite possible that at this rate I’ll end up with a letter telling me I only have 12 months to live, and a second one apologising for the 13 month delay in sending the other letter.

I’ve still not had satisfactory answers to the questions I asked about my two cancelled operations in 2017. I gave up on one of them and the other one promised to get back to me. I’m sure that having taken 30 months to compose her answer, she will have a really good answer when it arrives.

That, I think, will do for the day. Nothing much happened and my brain is slowing down. I probably need chocolate, but that, according to the doctor, would be the same as ingesting poison.

There are some days when, to be honest, a glass of hemlock seems very attractive.

The pictures are from a set of silver Britannia coins we have in stock – they were specially made in 2006 by the Royal Mint and have had an additional coating of matt-finish silver and highlighting in gold. They are handsome coins.

Resisting the Temptation to Rant

I’ve accidentally been thinking about death this morning. It’s a lovely day, blue skies, green trees, a great view and a Bank Holiday.

After rising slightly before seven I decided I may as well stay up and started catching up with some writing. I even avoided the depressing fight with my trousers this morning. As I sit and type I’m not wearing any. If I ever learn how to use Skype I may have to reconsider my dress code but for now it makes for a more relaxing morning.

We’re off for Afternoon Tea later today so I’ll have to wear a new pair of trousers so, quite honestly, I didn’t see the point of doing it twice in one day. Why, I hear the gentlemen readers ask, do you need a new pair of trousers? Because Julia says so. We are going to a hotel and she is demanding that my normal everyday costume of creased clothes with food stains is replaced by a clean and pressed ensemble.

I asked if she was going to be the one doing the ironing but she snorted and said: “You know where the iron is.”

I do. I also know where she stores the lettuce, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to be making a salad any day soon.

Fortunately there are a pair of trousers and a reasonable shirt (ie with all buttons and a check pattern) in the bottom of the clean laundry bag. They should be flat enough.

I suppose somebody will ask if I don’t explain it – people with fuller figures have to avoid shirts with lines as they tend to exaggerate the rotundity.

Anyway, I digress.


I was having a break from writing and thought I’d check up on a few symptoms I’ve noticed recently. With everything that I currently have it’s difficult finding room for new symptoms but I seem to have managed. I thought I’d better check just to see if they are important and see if I could spare the time to have them looked at.

I’m still waiting for news on the last chest X-Ray and the nonsense with Rheumatology (who have gone very quiet). In a couple of weeks I also have a routine blood test, so I think the NHS has plenty of my time as it is.

So, I logged on to the appropriate condition and looked at symptoms. I have most of them. Most of us do. Like all these sites they throw everything at it, alter the order and load it onto a website.

Not only that, but after whittering on about care plans and drugs they start talking of palliative care, a section which has plainly been written by a trainee with a text book. But I will not be tenpted into a rant.

So that is why I am accidentally thinking about death


Great War Memorial Plaque

(I just had a look at my old posts on arranging my own funeral and notice I never did get on with discussing the sandwiches for the funeral tea. I may get back to that in the next few days.)

Stop All The Clocks (Part 3)

Sorry, it’s been a while since Part 1 and Part 2, which covered making my own funeral arrangements. I had meant to keep them closer together but, as you know, I’ve not been very industrious lately.

The funeral is going to be non-religious, cheap and hot, with a cardboard coffin and informal dispersal of the remains. Let “economic dignity” be the theme.

That leaves the catering and the music.

The music is a problem, as I’m very limited in my musical taste, and a lot of it has been done before. On top of that is the problem that the music isn’t really for my amusement and going through the curtains to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown may not meet with Julia’s approval. In fact I know it doesn’t as we’ve discussed it before.

Being serious for a moment, my funeral isn’t really about me. Yes, I’ve no doubt that they will talk about me, share a few memories and, if honest, agree that I did have a few imperfections. Really, though, it’s for the people who are left behind, and planning all the details seems a bit presumptuous. After all, I’m not the one who is going to have to sit through it all.

There’s a site with some favourite songs but most of them are either a bit over-used or too sad for funerals or, let’s be honest, rubbish. I’m not going to set myself up as a music critic, but I will be leaving a list of songs not to play at my funeral.

I quite like Banks of Green Willow, though I also like the theme from The Outlaw Josie Wales. Not saying anyone should play them, but there are worse songs to go out to. When the Angels Sing sounds like it should be suitable, but despite my love of the track it doesn’t really fit with my dull suburban life.

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is write some better funeral poetry as most of it is fairly dreary. We read one of my father-in-law’s poems at his funeral – a short light verse about senior moments and that was good. One of my cousins had one of his own poems at his funeral, which was a bit more serious, but still better than anything you find by Googling funeral poems, apart from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Anything that talks about meeting later or, even worse, being in another room, is definitely out. So is anything claiming I am like wind beneath your wings, or anything else. The word wind, when linked to me, does not, I confess, lead to thoughts on a higher plane. It’s meant to be a dignified occasion and I don’t want any sniggering during the eulogy.

That’s enough for now, we’ll have to cover catering in another installment as I get nervous when a post gets close to 500 words. I’m a blogger, not a novelist.




Stop All the Clocks

I’m coming up to sixty, I’ve been talking to a man who officiates at funeral services and, on the way home last night, I listened to a radio programme about funeral singers. This would tend to indicate that it’s time to think of funerals.

Apologies to anyone who finds the subject in bad taste, but there are certain things that need arranging beforehand. I’m a bit on the large side, for instance, and the average coffin always looks a bit on the small side. Wicker, apart from its green credentials, has a bit more give if you’re having to pack a fat man in it. Cardboard is probably even greener, and you could probably make your own if you had enough warning. That might be a step too far, though totally in character for my parsimonious nature

I’ve had a quick look and made my first decision. I’m going for cardboard, as they do one of decent size at a reasonable price. You can buy them here on eBay, with free delivery. In contrast, most wicker coffins are only about six foot long and p&p on eBay is £50. You can buy a lot of sandwiches for £50.

I may well shrink with age (if I live long enough) but I’m still currently too tall for a wicker coffin. I don’t think we need to worry about the width just now.

I’d also like to be buried in a natural burial ground, but I’ve just looked it up and find a burial plot costs £600. You can bury one person in it or scatter four sets of cremation remains. The ashes seem more economical but you have to get cremated first and I can’t find a cost for this to do a proper costing. Even Cremdirect want to sell you a complete funeral. The don’t cover the Nottingham area, but if they did I’m not sure if they’d want me, as they say – “Additional costs my apply to oversize coffins in excess of 6 foot 4″ and over 24″ wide”. You could probably fit me into  6′ 4″ as it leaves an inch at each end and you’d be able to bend my knees a bit, but I’d have to check the 24″.

Their cost, as long as you’re small enough, is £2,150. Alternatively, you can have a Nottingham Funeral for £1,799.99. It’s the Council’s modern equivalent to a pauper’s funeral, and there may be extras, including an extra charge for having a Friday funeral. No, I don’t know why.

Nor do I know why you’d trust your funeral to people who have trouble organising basic bin collections.

Part 2 to follow…