Dates for your diary (2)

Charles Cowling





Date: 12-14 June (choose your day or come to all three).

Venue: Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.


Event: National Funeral Exhibition.

This trade show is a biennial shindig. Funeral directors fly in from all corners of the country to feast their eyes everything new in the world of funerals. Not that there is anything new, of course. Variations on the same old same old might be a better description. Coffins made from corn cobs. Hearses so big they could double as squash courts. I’m joking. Only just.

Where coffins and transport and headstones are concerned, it’s all about guessing what look clients are going to want next. There will be all sorts of brave start-ups offering new-look merchandise which may or may not catch on. Much of it will be green-themed, doubtless. Wholemeal funerals have been reckoned to be the future for a few years now. Uptake hasn’t yet matched the razzmatazz and press coverage.

Funeral directors are finding they’re needing to be futurologists. There may be undertakers out there now who are getting away with doing things exactly the same way they were doing them 60 years ago, but they won’t 60 years hence.

You need to be a bona fide member of the funeral industry to attend. I rang to ask why. It seems they reckon some of the stuff – mortuary equipment in particular – is the sort of stuff bona fide members of the public don’t need to see. Fair point.

If you want to go, but you have no links to the industry, ring, make your case and negotiate. I’d have thought they’d be happy to admit you so long as you make it clear you know what you’re in for. They just don’t want people dropping in curiously, then running out screaming.

Huge fun, lots of people to talk to – and, brooding over us, the spirit of Joe Orton.

What’s a good collective noun for a convocation of undertakers? Give yourself a bit of gentle brain gym. Come up with something spot on. Leave a comment.

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