Charles Cowling

It’s been a dispiriting couple of days. Once again the damned Co-op Funeralcare has re-announced the obvious in yet another self-serving survey and, incredibly, reaped a rich harvest of column inches in the UK’s newspapers. You’ve almost certainly encountered some of it.

I wasn’t going to rise to it. At this time of the year I’d rather turn my sights to sunnier things. But I suppose I ought to write about it because I know that a number of you come here for second-hand news. Second-hand news is me.

If you want to find out what the Co-op sent out to all those flat-bottomed hacks too idle to go out and find news stories of their own, click here. It may be a good idea to have a sick bag to hand.

The survey is endorsed by venerable academic and ‘funerary historian’, Julian Litten. What on earth he thinks he’s doing lending his name to this garbage I can’t think. This ‘ere celebration of life trend, it’s all down to Princess Diana and Jade Goody, apparently — some sort of copycat effect, I suppose. FFS.

As Paul Hensby accurately points out, the damned Funeralcare has established itself as the thought leader in contemporary funerals. Ha! All the while, SAIF only whispers the findings of its Ipsos MORI price comparison survey. And where are the celebrants’ trade bodies?

Enough. Is Co-operative Funeralcare systemically incapable of delivering what people want? That’s a rhetorical question; they read this, they have lawyers.

10 thoughts on “Gilded poo

  1. Charles Cowling
    Maria, One Life Ceremonies

    There’s been some rubbish about ‘ordinary’ funerals as well recently – this I think the most ridiculous:

    and, of course, Funeralcare’ll do you one of those too.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Nestov Ratz

    I have asked the Coop to quote me on a Viking long boat which I want to be burnt with my chattels on the River Don. For the party after I have requested a Thora Hird themed disco. No reply so far.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    When I said Rupert I meant Jonathan of course. Latest news is that Union Carbide are sniffing.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Rupert Callender

    Depends on what my bung is.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    Read this brilliant blog post:

    As to your final speculation, Rupert: outrageous! Next you’ll be telling us it’s attracted interest from that nice man who sells execution drugs to the Americans.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling

    “Funeral directors are going to great lengths to accommodate a wide range of special requests…” says Fuck’emallcare.

    My arse. Co-op are losing funerals down here in Devon (hope that cheers you up half an iota, Charles) because it’s taking them too long to post the (irreplaceable) paperwork to, would you believe, Manchester and back. That, and other reasons presumably.

    Family carry the coffin? “We like to discourage that sort of thing, and anyway you can’t carry a cardboard one.” Shroud? “We couldn’t drive along the road with a body in the back wrapped in a bit of cloth.” Humanist funeral? “We don’t do them.” Etc.

    But who gives a gilded shit about the truth? Any old publicity is good advertizing, and if people see ‘Contemporary…trend…choice…green…My Way…Goodiana…Co-op’, they make the connection that sends the required volts to the target area of the brain, and Zap! a new customer. They’ve got the wherewithal to influence the press into advertizing their racket for nothing… try getting a genuine article into even a local paper if you’re not convinced.

    This has got naff-all to do with the quality or purpose of funerals (not wishing to dismiss you gloriamundous comments, GM). It’s just a cynical, brazen stunt because they know they’ll get away with it and rake in more dosh.

    It’s only a matter of time before Co-op makes a bid to buy out the Natural Death Centre.

    … Rupert?

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    WEell, thanks both, I’m encouraged – which is dangerous….Kathryn, I do like “fluffyland.” I herebye christen a noted national chain of funeral “service” providers: “Fluffy Griefdodgers plc.”

    Charles Cowling
  8. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    Quite so, Kathryn. As GM once memorably said, a funeral is not an artefact. And you can’t banish sadness by throwing a colourful coffin at it. Etc.

    As to GM’s expostulation, I have to say that I think it the finest and most glorious outburst I have had the pleasure of warming myself by for quite some time. A simply marvellous piece of invective.

    Charles Cowling
  9. Charles Cowling
    Kathryn Edwards

    Go Gloria!

    Couldn’t have expostulated better meself. It’s not Just You: there are loads of us. The problem is a separation of forums: subtle and informed over here (chez GFG and other fine hosts) or shallow and cynical over there (Co-op et al). And I’m sure we’re not the only ones to raise an eyebrow at Dr Litten’s allowing himself to be aligned with the latter.

    Some might say that we should be less provocable by trivially-grounded and self-serving marketing exercises – hardly ‘research’ – but I think people in our forums are excitable about such things because IT MATTERS. The bereaved-of-the-future are in danger of being abandoned to fluffyland if they think any of this is helpful, and they’ll have no useful ground to stand on when the day comes.

    Charles Cowling
  10. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    All due respect to Julian Litten, but any use of Princess Diana’s funeral as an example of setting a trend is just laughable. To put it simply, most of us lack a) Westminster Abbey b) enraged aristo brothers c)Elton John d) heads of state e) royal and much troubled in-laws, to name but five encumbrances to funerals with “a modern twist” for the rest of us. Some trend.

    “Half of today’s funerals are a celebration of life” presumably means that half of them are non-religious? Or does it simply mean that they feature jolly eccentricities? But surely any secular or religious funeral that’s any good isn’t JUST a celebration of a life, it’s also saying goodbye to a body, grieving for the end of a life, weeping, leaning on friends, thinking through what a life can now mean when it isn’t inhabiting a body – everything that happens at a funeral.

    But no, if advertspeak is to spread everywhere, why not into funerals too? So 49% are celebrations rather than mourning. A or B. What sort of insight does that show into the complex mix of emotions – joy, grief, regret, anger – that mourners actually feel at the most celebratory of funerals?

    “Is it me? Is it just me?” (B. Hicks, noted bullshit detector. I make this comment quite separately from everything else I have just written, of course, just a free-floating observation.)

    Of course, it all depends how people are asked the questions. But should anyone be wanting an outcome that suggests that all people want is a whacky coffin and some groovy music, rather than the mucky business of getting upset and being just a teeny bit sad, then questions could be asked accordingly.

    In return, we may have some questions of our own, starting with WTF?

    So: WTF has this stuff got to do with grieving people and the reality of funerals, however celebratory?

    Charles Cowling

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