SHEDNOTES 31: NOTES ON DEATH

File under F for Funerals

According to The Week magazine, 29.11.14: “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, is now the most popular soundtrack at British funerals, ending the 11-year reign of Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Among other favourites are the theme tunes to Match Of The Day and Coronation Street. Funeral directors have had to veto some choices – such as Another One Bites The Dust – on taste grounds.”
The theme from Countdown suits some wags. And The Shed has been to funerals where the Sid Vicious version of My Way went down well, except with the funeral directors.
Jerry Lee Lewis, unsurprisingly perhaps, said in a recent interview that his choice would be The Old Rugged Cross and Jerry Lee doing it would be a good choice for The Shed. You can get the idea, although the sound quality is poor, at

The Shed also suggests 50 Miles Of Elbow Room by Iris deMent –

Or, to really give them all a shiver, The Man Comes Around, by Johnny Cash?

Paul Weller recently chose Theme From A Summer Place, by Percy Faith, conductor of easy listening …

Bill Johnson, Warrington, told Guardian Letters earlier this year: “At my father’s cremation we played John Prine’s Please Don’t Bury Me (down in that cold, cold ground). It includes the words: Give my feet to the footloose/ Careless, fancy free/ Give my knees to the needy/ Don’t pull that stuff on me/ Hand me down my walking cane/ It’s a sin to tell a lie/ Send my mouth way down south/ And kiss my ass goodbye/

The Telegraph ran a top 30 for 2014, along with some useful funeral quotes and some reader suggestions, at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/9969669/Top-ten-funeral-songs.html
Another blogger has put together a playlist of 100 suggested tracks – give it a little while to load – at

And a funeral business has tried to divert us all from My Way with a few alternative thoughts at
http://blog.funeralone.com/funeralone-products/life-tributes/funeral-songs/

Adam Forrest in Guardian 28.6.14 had some useful advice on how to die for under £1000 …
“The average cost now stands at £3,456. Once you include the extras such as flowers, wreaths, catering and venue hire (around an additional £2,000), it brings the bill up to a staggering £5,502.
“A small but growing number of businesses are laying out low-cost, no-frills funeral options online.
“Catherine Joy started BB Funerals in North London back in 2010. She offers a ‘direct’ cremation funeral, without any formal service, for a total cost of £969.
“Funerals on a Budget is the online offshoot of Harrison Funeral Home in Enfield, arranging a direct cremation for anyone in a 30-mile radius of London, for £975. And Click Funerals, a similar online spin-off from D. Hollowell & Sons in Blackpool, can carry out a direct funeral for £995.
“Lancashire-based Simplicita offers a direct cremation for £1,000 … and Simplicita staff now travel across England and Wales to arrange more than 250 direct funerals a year.
“There is some government assistance. The Social Fund Funeral Payment provides £700 for expenses (along with some additional money to help cover burial or cremation fees), available to anyone receiving benefits, without any close relatives with sufficient savings.
“But it can take weeks to sort out … Information at gov.uk/funeral-payments.
“There is also a growing online network of charities and consultants happy to advise on the DIY option. If you are willing to work out how to collect the body, fill out the paperwork and meet the basic fees and costs, there are ways to arrange a funeral without a director for under £1,000.”

The reporter mentioned The Natural Death Centre (naturaldeath.org.uk) as a charity promoting more choice and added …
“If family and friends are willing to help carry the coffin and pitch in with home-made food, you can do without the professionals and arrange a DIY funeral for under a grand. If you inform hospital mortuaries that you are arranging the funeral, they will store the body until you are ready to collect it. Cremation will usually involve a doctor’s certification fee of £160. But in cases where HM Coroner is involved (with any unexpected or sudden death), there’s no charge. There is no legal requirement to embalm, but if storing the body for any length of time, it’s best to consult the Natural Death Centre.
For cremation, “hand over the body in a crematoria-compatible coffin (available from £180). Crematorium fees vary between £300 and £750, depending on the time of the day. If family can be flexible, early morning slots are usually available at the cheaper end of the spectrum. The minister or celebrant’s fee is usually around £150, but you don’t actually need to have one there.”

For burial, “plot prices vary wildly, but some small, rural parishes offer burial sites for as little as £200. Some natural burial sites offer spaces for as little as £455. Cardboard coffins can be ordered from around £170, and if you don’t want to dig, or fill in the earth yourself, digging services (whether at a natural site or cemetery) can vary between £150 and £450.”
Finally, “one way of conducting a free funeral is burial at home, if you are willing to dig and wrap the body in nothing more than a blanket. You must own the land outright – it cannot be mortgaged – and an amendment needs to be added to property deeds. You don’t need to inform your local authority, but there are guidelines about how not to contaminate ground water. Best get in touch with the Natural Death Centre to find out how it’s done.”
Guardian readers added some tips of their own at
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/jun/28/funeral-die-low-cost-options#start-of-comments
Dick Hill of Surbiton said: “I was surprised there was no mention of donating your body for medical research. My mother died last year at 98 and had decided she would prefer this option to burial or cremation. I notified the London Anatomy Office at King’s College which arranged for her body to be collected from the hospital. There was no cost involved apart from a voluntary contribution. “
With thanks to a comedian called Robin Ince, The Shed passes on, for future use, the comment that if P.D. James had to go, it was a pity there were no suspicious circumstances.
allfornow …

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