Use this land for the dead!

Charles Cowling

Cremationists have always been proud to boast that what they do saves land for the living. It’s true. That more than 70 per cent of Brits opt for the burning fiery furnace saves around 200 acres a year.

Having said which, and having visited a number of natural burial grounds, I find myself seeing natural burial potential almost everywhere, these days. There is a great deal of land which presently does nothing but look after vegetation, birds and insects. Let’s use it!

Here in Redditch we have a New Town built by seriously socialist planners. It was created to house overspill Brummie working folk in bucolic surroundings. There is a road system which looked great on paper. It incorporates the UK’s only clover-leaf road junction, of which we are overweeningly proud. Our roads constitute a nightmare of featurelessness and dementedly speeding vehicles, with ne-er an enforced speed restriction to be seen. That’s a downside (don’t get me started). But we also have a People’s Park, in the midst of which, dug out of virgin farmland, we have a people’s lake with lakeside parking, lakeside cafe, lakeside visitor centre, lakeside play area and even a tarmac lakeside path. Here, of a Sunday afternoon, we, the good people of Redditch, like to take the air. The shade of Joe Stalin surveys our jostling prams and Staffies, and he smiles.

In the middle of our lake we have islands. I can never gaze at them without thinking what excellent natural burial grounds they would make. There’s a problem with accessibility, of course, and this is what makes them such excellent habitats, but it may daunt those who wish to visit a grave frequently. They could wave and call out from the lake’s edge, of course; it’s only 50 metres away. Would the good people of Redditch settle for a boat trip on, say, four appointed days a year to lay flowers and join in a ceremony of remembrance? I wonder… You could call the islands names like Avalon, Lyonesse, Shambhala. Shall I put this to the town council?

No, I don’t think I have the requisite number of days left in my life. But that has not quelled the notion.

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