Off with the blinkers

Charles 24 Comments


I’ve got a feeling it’s time for a change of direction here at the blog.

It doesn’t cost me a great deal of brainpower to keep it going, but it does cost an awful lot of time scouring the internet, panning for gold. Conscientiousness can play funny tricks with a chap. I sit here feeling under a neurotic obligation to bring you, every day, something serious and thought-provoking plus, if poss, two or three other intriguing/amusing stories. It’s all getting a bit OCD. 

Today, for example, I’ve got, lined up, a piece about funeral pyres, a quote, a short film about the Dia de los Muertos that you’ll need your 3-D glasses to enjoy, a story about a man killed by a fish, and a piece of music. But I’m stopping myself from posting  them. And I’m not going to angst about where the rest of the week’s stories are going to come from. This is essential therapy. 

I’d always hoped that the blog would evolve into a sort of Speakers’ Corner and host news and views from all sorts of people. That mostly hasn’t happened — and a huge light went out when Lyra Mollington died.

As a result, I’ve a feeling that what we’ve become, the Daily Glut — your daily deathmag, more and more of the same old same old — is not what you want any more. 

If the format’s tired and dated, the content unread, I could be spending my time more usefully (you already are).

When the blog began, in 2008, it was quite the dashing radical. Today, more than 2,000 posts later, it may have morphed into a repetitious old bore. 

Do let me know what you’d like from now on — if anything. We are no strangers to mortality. 

The function of a blog, after all, is to be useful. 


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  1. Charles

    I guess it must be challenging to keep this going when you rarely see the direct impact of what you do. If you could see this, the inspiration, ideas and connections that come out of the GFG, I bet you would be amazed.

  2. Charles

    The Good Funeral Guide is a valuable resource of up to date funeral stories and information. You could showcase more of of what is going on in the funeral industry around the country, I’m thinking of giving details of training courses and local events such as natural burial open days, also articles about the work that individual funeral directors, funeral planners, celebrants etc are doing around the UK. It could become more educational and be provided on a paying membership basis.

  3. Charles

    What with looking after my cats and all my charity work, I do find it difficult to keep up with all the posts. Perhaps the blog should focus on the sort of things Colin mentions with something less serious at the weekends.

  4. Charles

    Hello, Kitty — good of you to call by. I thought I left a reply to Colin a while ago but it seems not to have appeared, which is trying. Damned iPad.

    Kitty, I take your point and I thank you for the absolution. I feel freed from bondage. You are a new commenter, and a valuable one with your distinctive voice. I don’t want to let you down.

    Colin, we always ‘notice board’ events if people tell us about them. We are reluctant to monetise, however, feeling that commercial heedlessness makes us more effective — more guerilla, if you like. I think what made me feel especially grumpy and self-doubtful this morning, in addition to disturbed sleep, a lousy, rainy morning and the usual underlying seasonal affective disorder (not to mention the war wound) was, the discovery that the sum raised for Carla Conte’s exhibition has hardly shifted in the last week. No one’s reading this blog, shouted a voice at the back of my brain, where the hooligans sit. A useful discovery for me, if not for poor Carla.

    Go on, everyone, sling her a tenner, please:

  5. Charles

    Charles, after all the outstanding work the blog’s done, largely (except at times of crisis i.e. documentaries), many are those who would miss it very much. I worry that you spend a lot of time searching and posting because you think there should be N posts per day/week. Cutting back might help you restrain the OCD (your term!) and make us concentrate. Your posts around the work of undertakers is irreplaceable, but personally, I wouldn’t want to see it become largely or exclusively concerned with The Business. I very much value the more extended, broader pieces about attitudes towards the end of life, funeral customs and stories from elsewhere, and so on. And I’m sorry to be pedantic, but there’s a nonsequitur in your comment above. Many people might be reading the blog but decide to send a tenner elsewhere than Carla’s project. (No judgement intended.)

    But no, despite the value of much of what Colin suggests, don’t get bought! If you can afford not to, that is. And of COURSE the blog is useful!

  6. Charles

    GM, thank you for these salutary words. I think they amount to what is known as speaking power to prat. I find my perspective marvellously restored by them, not to mention the balance of my mind. There’s nothing quite so beneficial as a figurative rolled-up newspaper wielded by a friend. As for Carla — do you know, I hadn’t thought of that. I shall go pop my head back in the fridge for a little while longer and all will be well. What a relief that Time is an ever-rolling stream.

  7. Charles

    Charles, I agree with all that GM has said. I, personally, read the blog at least once a day, sometimes more and I would miss it greatly. I like the variety, and the occasional debate that you can really get your teeth into. As GM says, I think you are more widely read, and have a far greater influence than you realise. I understand how hard it must be to keep things flowing (particularly as, in the words of Douglas Adams, I have recently come to enjoy the ‘wooshing sound’ that deadlines make as they go by…..I have no idea how you do it to be honest…and I would certainly understand if you posted less content…but I would be saddened. I would love to contribute and I think the ‘Speakers’ Corner’ idea is great…I also know that realistically it will be January or February before I had time… and also that I would stress that anything I wrote is not good enough for the public domain…another reason I admire you.
    You would, I think, be surprised how much we all appreciate what you do, which is a shame. We should tell you more often!


  8. Charles

    Wot Jenny said, and the others.

    Re Carla: I share your sense of the gloom that descends when others don’t share one’s enthusiasms! It’s easy for us to appreciate Carla’s incredibly beautiful and interesting photography, because we have seen a lot of it. For others, it may be a stretch.

    Feeling remorseful at having no recent contribution to make to the blog, and am keen to do better.

  9. Charles

    Nay, nay, lad – t’ blog is a wonderful thing – though I do think that some days I can’t keep up wi t’ postings – one or two would do me – say one stiff and one floppy, or if you prefer – one serious and one silly, a quote, a poem, a song, an occasional witticism as a bonus? Don’t kill yourself fretting over t’ Blog young Charles – earth shattering stuff can be posted as a newsbreaker anytime of the day or night. It’s a right good meeting spot. Long Live The Blog and its Blogger.

  10. Charles

    Thank you, Jenny, Kathryn and t’Jed. I shall blog on, but in a less driven way, making it easier to keep up wi’ t’postings.

    Interesting that the definite article in Yorkshire is marked by t’ when actually it is a tiny hiatus made at the back of the throat. Jamaicans are much more sensible in getting rid of it almost altogether.

    1. Charles

      Heyup thrapper, thous welly brassened th’now. Thas med a rite flap!

      All of us up North thought you were about to chuck’inth’ towel, blog wise, Charles. For one horrible moment, our Doc Martens simultaneously all froze to the ground. Rumour has it that those around Century House are still all stuck there, fumbling feverishly with their bootlaces – in an attempt to catch th’last tram home.

      It would be a disaster if the blog lost it’s rum humour and comment. Might be a bit of a bugger to keep blog’in every day, day-in, day-out, but well worth keeping it live and kickin’ Charles.

      Any attempts to rename it “Black Dog Blog” will be vigorously resisted.


  11. Charles

    Charles, you perform an invaluable public service with this, the clearest voice I know of on funereality; surely the first resort for anyone interested in, in need of or challenged by death, funerals and all the connections between the two.

    I guess it must feel lonely and tiring trawling the net for things to post up here that keep funerawareness fresh in people’s minds, and if we commenters are less than forthcoming with our own orighinal contributions it’s probably more about putting off till tomorrow – certainly not indifference. Like Jenny I come here every day when I can, and I get withdrawal symptoms otherwise – does anyone else have that eerie feeling that death is having a party without them?

    Thank you, Charles, for what you do so well, which would be left undone without you. Please don’t die.


  12. Charles

    A heartfelt thank-you Charles, for all that you do. I thoroughly enjoy reading the posts, and often the comments. I love the mix of silly and serious. I shall miss Lyra’s posts very much but I can’t imagine her being replaced, it would seem wrong to try to. Perhaps someone else could have a regular slot of some kind….? But please don’t feel any pressure to post so many items a day, or even a week – as those of us who work in funeral world know all too well, death is unpredictable so why should the blog posts not be also? Sneak up on us when we least expect it.

  13. Charles

    When I was starting out as a celebrant a wise fd said I should read the blog – ‘essential reading’ he said,

    It was the best advice and the best start I could have had. The blog, by turns silly, serious and inspiring has enlarged my understanding and helped me grow in the job I do. I have to say I can’t keep up with it: when I am busy I lose days and weeks. So if I have a vote, a post or two a day would do for me.

    Slow down, take a break, reprise your greatest hits but, whatever you do, please don’t give up just yet.

    P.S. I’m writing on a blackboard like Bart Simpson: I must blog more, I must blog more…

  14. Charles

    Hi Charles. I’m not surprised by your feelings, I have no idea how you find the time or the energy to devote to this for us, your loyal readers. I only get to dip in now and then, when time allows and I remember, but I enjoy looking back at the posts, reading comments and wondering about all the others that comment and contribute. It is an essential item to those of us in the trade and those thinking of joining or window shopping. Please carry on, although I would understand if you cut back a bit. It would be great if other commentators could come on board to help too. I think you would be amazed at what a resource this is and high the regard for it is. Long may you continue! (No pressure or anything!)

  15. Charles


    you know my thoughts well, the bottom line is, is nothing other than, the GFG blog HAS to continue, after all who else would or could continue to highlight the delights that spring forth from a certain Manchester address



  16. Charles

    Don’t stop. Don’t curl up your toes, but also don’t feel there has to be so much. I’d rather see two or three good posts a week than loads of fillers. The value of the blog is that it continues to question, probe, nudge, amuse and tease in addition to being informative. For a straightforward consumer, the website is perfect – but the blog seems to attract those ‘in the trade’. Sometimes I do wonder what a consumer would think if they did look at the blog -and sometimes I cringe on their behalf to see so much spatting and hissing. However, it should remain and we who want it to remain should put aside an hour a week and think of something useful to post to maintain its freshness, balance and relevance. Mind you, having run a national newsletter a few years ago, I know that’s like pulling teeth.

    Keep up the good work Cap’n and we promise to support you by putting some fresh new posts on really soon. In the meantime, don’t fret. Relax……….. sometimes busy, sometimes not, that’s it………sway with the breeze………… are a willow tree…………..bending and swaying…………

  17. Charles

    Charles those of us in the ‘ funforal’ business need you and your blog. Like others I dip in irregularly but it cheers me up and, of course I nick some of your stuff to pass on to folk via my blog and further share the fruits of your trawling.
    Again I would support those who suggest that you shouldn’t feel driven to keep seeking and sharing stuff on a daily basis. Take it easy man!

    I have been meaning to flag up an idea to you. As a celebrant I have just statred to offer the opportunity to have a brief obituary and detail of the funeral music/readings. Obviously I think everyone who dies should be remembered publicly – a bit like the guardian’s ‘Other Lives’ section but it also serves as a death notice for someone who might google a person’s name.

    I wondered if this was a possibility for the GFG to provide such a service for a small cost. It would probably be done using a template and would need moderation/editing. It seems to me that the GFG would be the ideal place for online obituaries/tributes. I’m just thinking aloud/flying kites but I reckon that the internet is the obvious place for this.

    Another thought is the idea od a regular weekly/monthly slot of a compilation of one liner ‘oh bits’ from funerals/celebrants to make us smile.

    You might be suffering from the pre-festive season blues with all the excesses, hype and long duration of it all getting to you as it does for some of us as we get older.

    So – thank you Charles

  18. Charles

    Here I am, far too many days after your original plea for responses. ‘Tis true I only look from time to time, but always with the knowledge that there will be something to stir me and teach me. I echo most of what has already been said; and a pause for reflection may enable some fresh energy to spring forth in a different way. What you have incubated here Charles is very valuable and when something becomes a burden, something is awry. So let the season of hibernation give us rest and time for us all to find inspiration anew.

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