Blog Archives: September 2014


Friday, 26 September 2014

image008 (1)




Posted by John Porter

Strangeways prison, Manchester 1982, pre riot. I was a student on placement and during my first week asked an officer what the red and white cards meant outside each cell. “White means CofE and red is for ‘left-footers’ – Catholic.”  Nothing for Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or any other religious flavour! I saw “HIV” on two cards! The red/white categorisation was, of course, a gross generalisation. Many said CoE because there were no other options being offered. Default religion. Not far from the truth, as the CoE remains firmly intertwined with the establishment by statute. Thankfully, the Queen, as “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” is not yet seen as a literal stone figurehead in churches! Continue reading

Et in Arcadia ego

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Nicolas Poussin - Les Bergers d_Arcadie _Et in Arcadia ego_

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

I first came across this Latin phrase as a teenager reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Narrator Charles Ryder finds the words inscribed on a skull displayed in his bedroom. ‘Even in Arcadia, there I am,’ is the translation. Death, the great equaliser, prevails even in the most utopian lands, as certain in the stately homes of England as the slums of Calcutta, the parched plains of Africa or the war-torn streets of Iraq. Continue reading

Free until the point of death

Tuesday, 23 September 2014



Click the letter and you’ll make it bigger and readable.

It’s from Angie Gunn, Mortuary Services Admin Co-ordinator at Stockport NHS Trust. It’s been sent to all local undertakers.

“From 1 Oct, once all paperwork regarding the release of a body has been received, you will be contacted by a member of the Mortuary staff to inform you that everything is ready and that you may collect. You will be required to collect by 1630 hours the next working day … Any delay in collection will now incur a charge of £25 per day … no exceptions … should this date be a Friday and you do not collect by 16.30 hours … you will be charged for Saturday and Sunday … Families who wish to view their loved one following receipt of all relevant release paperwork will be informed that they can no longer come to the mortuary and that they must contact their funeral director to facilitate this.” Continue reading

It’s what they would have wanted

Sunday, 21 September 2014



The woman who had died was young, her end sudden and tragic. She had fallen from a yacht and drowned. The funeral was big, loud and emotional. In the days following, many came on their own to lay flowers quietly on her grave. One weekday lunchtime a man was depositing a cellophane-wrapped bunch when he was joined by a woman with an elaborate circular arrangement. th_life ringAs she lowered it, he saw that it depicted a life ring.

“That’s… quite something.”

“It’s what she would have wanted.” Continue reading

Everlasting sleep

Friday, 19 September 2014

Rudoplf Schäfer – Der ewige Schlaf. Visages de morts

Going out in credit

Friday, 19 September 2014

Thieves Stealing Bodies From Graveyard


It is a long established principle of English law that there is no property in a corpse. As church lawyers in the middle ages used to say in that scholarly way of theirs (with a solemn nudge and a wink), a dead person – a cadaver – is cara data vermibus: flesh given to worms.

It wasn’t until 1804, though, that the practice of arresting a corpse against a debt was made illegal. Continue reading

Last poem

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

TV Presenter, Clive James at home in London


Japanese Maple

by Clive James (who is dying)


Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable.

You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:


Enhanced, in fact.

When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?


Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.


My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:


Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colors will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.


What would Doctor Who’s funeral be like?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014



Posted by Melissa Stewart

How does the Doctor’s experience of intergalactic death care compare with our earthly experiences? What would he think of arrangements in an average high street chain?

In the 1985 episode ‘Revelation of the Daleks’, loosely based on Evelyn Waugh’s ‘The Loved One’, we learn a little about the Doctor’s attitude to funerals. By all accounts the good Doctor is an existentialist believing that when you die that’s it.

The story is set in the Tranquil Repose Funeral Home on the planet Necros. Renowned for their funeral arrangements for the galaxy’s elite, the deceased are placed into suspended animation until a ‘cure’ for their death is found and they are returned to life.s4_13_wal_19 These people are called the ‘Resting Ones’. But all is not well, the Tranquil Repose has been taken over by the evil Davros who is using the deceased in the storage hub to make new Daleks.

Outside the funeral home is the ‘Garden of Fond Memories’, where statues of the Resting Ones are erected in their memory. It is the job of the staff Mister Jobel and his student Tasambeker to upsell and this they do via the ‘perpetual arrangement’. Sound familiar?

While your body is ‘suspended’ you can opt to have music and information played to you by ‘The DJ’ to keep you abreast of music trends and news. You don’t want to be out of date when you come back do you? For a just a little more the DJ will also read you messages from your loved ones. And then there’s the memorial statue!

In the Garden of Fond Memories is a statue of the Doctor, made of polystyrene but sold as stone.611px-Memento Davros has put it there with the intention of killing the Doctor. The Doctor stares at it and declares “No, no, this is dreadful. Do you realise how much a thing like this would cost …… America doesn’t have the monopoly on bad taste”. He turns his back on the statue and it collapses on top of him. Jobel appears in a half hearted attempt to rescue him knowing his actions are not really necessary  “I am Jobel. I am very important here, I am the Chief Embalmer”. The Doctor replies “Are you touting for business?  The Doctor pushes the statue off himself stating “It’s all part of an elaborate theatrical effect”.  Tasambeker later stabs Jobel in the heart and is himself killed by a Dalek.

At the end of the episode The Doctor says “This place is called Tranquil Repose. I think we should leave the dead in peace don’t you? I know somewhere that is truly tranquil, peaceful, restful. A panacea for the cares of the mind.”

“Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker.

So it’s a natural burial for The Doctor then, if he ever stops regenerating.




Page 1 of 3123