What’s the youth of them?

Charles Cowling

First it was young women in the dismal trade who grabbed the prurient gaze of the media — that intriguing juxtaposition of beauty and beastliness, fragrance and foetor; the tantalising question: What makes a nice girl want to hang out with corpses? It makes for good photos. Slim young black-clad cane-wielding lovelies can induce a certain frisson in men who have been naughty boys. Silly stuff.

Now, any young deathworker is good for a few column inches, even plain males, and the hunt is on for the youngest. “Is,” asks This Is Leicestershire, “this Leicestershire teenager UK’s youngest undertaker?” At but seventeen, and only just out of short trousers,  George Simnett (above) is their challenger for the title.  Why does George want to be an undertaker? “‘Even when I went to family funerals as a little boy, I used to see undertakers looking so smart and dignified and think to myself “I’d like to do that. That could be me.”‘ He adds: ‘”A lot of the job is about being caring and understanding with people who are in a very difficult emotional place. That’s the part I love because it’s so satisfying when you get it right.”‘ He seems to have what it takes. His heart is clearly in the right place.

Does it matter what his age is?

Talking of juxtapositions, The Daily Mail reports the funeral of Des Young, legendary JCB operator, who was carried to his funeral on the forks of a JCB. There’s a photo (copyrighted so I daren’t pinch it) showing the funeral director ‘paging’ the JCB. Delightfully anomalous to my eye. To yours, quite possibly, smart and dignified.

7 thoughts on “What’s the youth of them?

  1. Charles Cowling

    oops clicked send before i got to amend my typos!

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

    I cant imagine I’d be too comforted by a fresh faced laddy straight out of shorts to plan my nearest and dearests funeral – however this is not to say the boy cant do it and do it well. I know 50 year olds that are no better at their job even with 30 years experiance!

    Kingfisher judging by your website you probably do a great job- but lets be fair now -this boy could probably do a better job than most stubborn stuck in the mud FD’s who have been doing funerals all their life.

    but have to say the BEST girl i ever had working for me was a 17 year old – I lost her when she went to university to do Economics 2 years ago but she was amazing and still to this day I am yet to find anyone of her caliber – she had a GREAT attitude, was bright and on the button – now if this FD is anything like my Sophie was – then great, whoever employee him well done – but in all honestly i doubt it!

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    The problem with being 17, I recall, is not that one knows nothing, it’s that one knows worse than nothing. It’s not that we ever, most of, sail into still, serene waters of wisdom, but experience certainly knocks some sense into us – curbs the excesses; teaches us about ourselves and others. Good luck to young Geo. But I think he’ll look back, in years to come, and rather wish he’d waited a bit.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling

    I agree with Kingfisher – it’s great that young people should be getting involved within the funeral industry – but I really don’t think that at aged 17 anyone has had sufficient life experience to deal with the psychological issue of death. I’m sure there are people out there who will throw up their hands and shout ‘how ageist’ – but honestly, we thought we knew it all at 17, but how many of us actually did?!

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    I’m going to finally take the plunge and contribute, as this one is close to my heart …

    I strongly believe that age is important in a Funeral Director, and that’s with hindsight, and having myself been an extremely annoying 17-year old trying to get on in the profession, and not believing that I could be anything other than perfect at the job.

    That was 23 years ago, and I now think that I’m nowhere near perfect at the job, but I have the experience which helps me deal with situations that I face, the knowledge to deal with the queries that I face, and the empathy to know what to say to the people that I face.

    There is of course the difference (?) between “undertaker” and “funeral director” – and it’s unclear which of these the story refers to – is the topper and the picture taken from the passenger seat of the hearse/limo indicative that he is conducting a funeral, or is it posed for the press?

    Everyone has to start somewhere, and I have no problem with encouraging school-leavers into the profession, but to allow them to arrange and conduct funerals? The satisfaction he talks about is perfectly possible to come by through being present at funerals, helping and becoming part of the team.

    I thank my lucky stars, and a couple of extremely good managers, that I was not allowed to put a top hat on at that age. There’s a lot more to our profession than looking smart.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling

    In my case, a wine rack (with added wheels).

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling

    Applying the fork-lift truck idea, one has known many people who should have been transported to their funeral on a brewer’s dray…

    Charles Cowling

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