A great day out — and a heartfelt apology

Charles Cowling

If there was a conference organiser of the year award, it would go to Julie Dunk – technical officer and conference manager of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management – and her partner, Blue. The reason, probably, why there is no such award is that Julie and Blue would win it every year.

 

Two days ago I dropped in on the ICCM conference. What a bundle of fun, you may ironically think – and to your surprise you’d be right. Any gathering of any branch of the death industry is as cheery as it has every right to be, and the cem-crem gang are no exception. Thank you for inviting me, Julie!

 

I went principally to listen to Sandy Sullivan talking about Resomation, the new alternative to cremation. Here’s a process which has been already been smothered in horror by the gutter press. They want to boil dead bodies, they say, then flush them down the drain. It’s not actually like that at all. And it rather overlooks the fact that cremation entails setting fire to dead bodies and flushing them up chimneys.

 

I missed Sandy. I nattered too long to the excellent Sandra Thomson, and couldn’t get into the lecture hall without creating a disturbance. Later, talking to crem managers, I discovered a lot of interest, and a desire to find out what precisely is in the liquid that is disposed of.

 

I wanted to meet memorialisers because that’s what I’m researching at the moment. I talked to the lovely people at the FG Marshall stand, and I had an engrossing chat with Jenny Gregson of BRAMM. I hadn’t known till she told me that the reasons people prefer shiny granite headstones are because the surface is easy-clean and they look forever new. Age shall not weary them nor the topple testers condemn.

 

So many of the good guys and gals of the funeral industry were there, including Wesley Music, who have done so much to improve the quality of funeral ceremonies, and are looking to instal multimedia display equipment in crems, a move which will be transformative. Paul Sinclair, the motorcycle funeral man, was there. He is a rare bundle of utter professionalism and great good humour. Time spent with Paul flies by.

 

Krysia from the indefatigable Institute of Civil Funerals was there, and it was she who taught me most. She objected in the most passionate terms to my unkindness in this blog to Adrian Pink of the British Institute of Funeral Directors. And while I am happy to contest Adrian’s professional judgement in supposing that a vast parade of hearses makes the funeral industry more approachable (Krysia disagrees with me implacably), I am not happy to think that I may have given him offence because I gather he is an extremely nice man who really is working as hard as he can, from the very best of motives, to make a difference.

 

Krysia’s word is good enough for me. Adrian, I apologise unreservedly. And I ask you again to talk to this blog and tell us exactly what you are striving to achieve. Here’s a very good opportunity for you to reach an audience of ordinary members of the public who would, I believe, be very interested to hear what you have to say.

 

 

 

 

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