All that we are not

Charles 6 Comments



Back in the day – it feels like pre-history but it’s only 5 years – there was very little buzz around death (poor metaphor, I know).

Now there’s an ear-shattering din.

Back then, in a spirit of open-minded curiosity, I’d blog up anything that caught my eye — arty stuff, Goth stuff, silly stuff, serious stuff, funny cartoons… something for everybody. There’s no trick to it, just a preparedness to slog through Google Alerts, Pinterest, Vimeo, etc. Back then, people liked that – because there was virtually nowhere else to go for death stuff. It was a bit like being the only bar in a quiet, tiny fishing village way off the beaten track. Life was uncomplicated.

The little fishing village became Benidorm. There’s thousands of us, now, it’s got very competitive. Facebook’s been the game changer, the crack cocaine of social media, the essential promotional tool for everybody. The appetite for eyecatching ooh-ah stuff is huge and you can follow the numbers clicking your posts. It’d be addictive if you were a twat. Post anything requiring much more than 4 secs attention and you’re likely to be passed over. I know, I’ve experimented.

It’s not all bad. We had a chat on FB last night about whether Roy, had he followed his heart and kept Hayley at home, would have had to get her embalmed. There was a flurry of comments and the anti-embalmers ran out winners 4-0. There’s a lot of really good stuff on Facebook and there are some great new blogs.

Commentators on social media have their specialisms. The GFG has ceded territory. We don’t do instant-grat stuff from Pinterest any more, newcomers do that. We watch with a grandfatherly and slightly schizophrenic eye. Where does the GFG position itself in all this? Ans: two places at once. Our Facebook/Twitter presence is one place, the blog quite another.

The arty market has been staked out by an incursion of intellectuals, principally the Order of the Good Death and Death Salon. There’s heaps I like about them. Their fondness for morbidalia of all sorts from taxidermy to putrescence doesn’t float my boat, but no matter. The upcoming Salon in London, 10-12 April, looks very interesting. Well worth checking out. Tickets here.

So there’s lots of stuff we don’t do and there’s much that we aren’t any more. Have we lost ground? No. We know where we stand because we know what we are: a little consumer organisation focussed on improving the experience of ‘ordinary’ people needing to arrange a funeral. We’re not clever, we’re not exciting and we’re not fashionable. We try hard. Even if we were better at what we do we’d still be dull and a bit serious. Feels like home.

It ain’t Syria. There’s room for all of us.


Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon Underwood
10 years ago

Hi Charles, As someone now resident in Benidorm I just wanted to recognise and thank you for what the GFG has achieved. Thanks to your creativity, authenticity and fearlessness you have played a foundational role in bringing about the changes you refer to. For me and (I’m pretty sure) many others you opened up new possibilities of what might be done in this domain and as such have demonstrably changed the space around death. You set the bar and it is in some way thanks to you that others are now setting the bar alongside you. I feel sure that… Read more »

10 years ago

Your recent posts, this one and ‘Groundhog week’, express a reflective mood appropriate for the new year. While the January blues can make one’s cup seem half empty, such reflection often drives positive strides into the future. As you note, you have, over the years, attracted thousands of visitors to GFG as an information service covering matters relating to death, bereavement and appropriate send-offs. As commentators acknowledge, your content—whether practical or philosophical, light-hearted or high-brow—has indeed influenced public perceptions, and industry practices. Your biggest contribution, for me, has been to draw attention to the wealth of funeral choice available to… Read more »

10 years ago

Thank you for being:
for winding us up when things are in danger of becoming a bit boring.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Do I detect a valedictory tone here, or is that wishful thinking? Thank you, Jon, for your very kind words. And you, Kitty. And you, Richard. Yes, this is all about positive reflection and appraisal; I’m not falling into a slough of despond or a ditch of self-pity. It takes an inordinate amount of time, this GFG-ing, and it simply can’t go on. I need more balance in what remains of my life (swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day). The changes you refer to have been brought about by changers, Jon – visionaries, risk-takers, brave people who… Read more »

Jon Underwood
10 years ago

Hi Charles,

I had to look up ‘valedictory’!

Yes, I think you do detect a valedictory tone here, and I believe this may well have been established by you 🙂

If there is a farewell going on then logically a ‘hello’ would be expected to follow…

I for one look forward to what happens next. You can rely on my close attention, unwavering support and eternal thanks.

Final thought – if the GFG ever did die it would have a bloody good funeral!


james showers
10 years ago

When I hover over my ‘bank’, ‘weather’, ‘tide times’ bookmarks, I consistently get a thump at ‘The good funeral guide blog’ spot. I feel a mixture of excitement,dutiful necessity, andwell founded fear that I shall be challenged beyond what I find comfortable………… sometimes threatened, by the radical and searching nature of the content and respondents. But stimulated …. pricked to do more, do better, offer better value; inspired to write clearer, using simpler more muscular words; inspired to lighten up. As death is embraced as the new rock ‘n roll, GFG has a clear and important role. Is it that… Read more »