Know your foe

Charles 5 Comments

Overheard at the Joy of Death convention: “I wish all these conventional funeral directors weren’t here, I think this event should only be for progressives.” My heart sank. We don’t need another postcode gang in Funeralworld. It’s beginning to feel like Peckham.

Name-calling, in-fighting, backstabbing. Somebody ought to do something about it.

And scapegoating. There are those who are wondering who exactly it was who set ITV onto the scent of Funeral Partners and, specifically, Gillman’s. Fingers have been pointed at the ‘greens’.

We have itched to feature one of these treacherous, alternative green undertakers who unaccountably know better than investigative journalists where to look for plague and pestilence in the industry.

Every time we receive a report of a sighting we set out like eager twitchers to pin down the exotic renegade and put the searing questions:  “How do you know so much? What’s your beef?”

When we get there we find a decent, modest person who meets bereaved people where they are and accompanies them to where they want to go. If anything distinguishes them it is not their militancy but their emotional intelligence. Most anti-climactic of all, they do lots of ‘traditional’ funerals — but don’t think of them that way. Try as you may, the only label you can pin on them is ‘good’

As to this evening’s documentary (ITV1, 10.35), if you’re wondering who the stool pigeons are, don’t. Put yourself in the researchers’ shoes. You want to get an undercover guy into a little independent? “Sorry mate, no jobs here.”

So you target the businesses with staff turnover. 


  1. Charles

    I was only there for the awards ceremony, well most of it. I thought everyone seemed very matey, happy, chatty, joined by desire to improve the farewell experience in one way or another. Ok, so we were there also hoping for our small roles in this greater good to be recognised, and with the recognition some increased publicity.
    If there was one place less like Peckham it was a gathering of white people drinking prosseco in an eco-friendly hotel garden in Bournemouth.
    Is this the same Joy of Death event that so many people said was a great success, not least the brilliant wit and eloquence of one Charles Cowling?

  2. Charles

    Agreed, Paul, the gathering at that lovely hotel was thoroughly agreeable. The remark I overheard was the following day and, to be fair, was not exactly uttered as a warcry. Perhaps I have pointed it up more than it deserves — but it serves to make my point, I think…

    And the point of a blog is that it should accommodate contrary views couched in civil terms such as yours. I welcome that.

    Actually, I’ve a weakness for a bit of sound and fury, too.

  3. Charles

    Now Charles I accept your point about researchers not being able to get jobs as small independents, but there has been some finger pointing and egging on, including details on this site. I can recall a particular blog comment in which certain hubs were named as targets, purely because of their size.

    How many times has it been said that the big boys offer a poor service and don’t care and its factory funeral directing etc and horror or horror they have these things called hubs.

    We all know its s load of baloney.

    Just because a firm is owned by a group it does not make it or the people who work in it uncaring…….. And just because a firm is family owned and independent does not mean all the staff are caring and perfect individuals, after all Gillmans was independent until 18 months ago and these are the very same staff employed then that will be featured tonight.

    Having said that I in no way condone the behaviour described and there does need to be a way rid the profession of such alleged behaviour. ( notice my use of the work alleged.) thus saving you editing !

  4. Charles

    Dave, thank you for that a-word. Very relieved.

    I agree that generalisations fail the accuracy test; where corps and indies are concerned, it’s not as simple as sheep and goats. There are bad big uns and awful little uns, and I don’t absolve myself from an occasional tendency to generalise. Having said that, the GFG is a great fan of Scotmid, which we actively recommend.

    The point I was trying to make is also yours: that labels are rarely descriptive.

    I wonder if any of the FSOs featured will say that nothing like this would have happened in Mr Gillman’s time. I believe that would be just.

    It’s a horrible business, Dave. I don’t suppose any of us has the stomach for it or is enjoying it. Here at the GFG our focus is on good funerals, and on identifying those who feel the same. It’s unsung heroes who float our boat, not unscrupulous rogues. Nevertheless, the public interest is unquestionably served by programmes such as this. If self-regulation is to have any credibility, it has to be seen to work. The NAFD response will be crucial. This time, it needs to step up. A great many excellent employees of FPL will feel terribly let down by what they are going to see.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>