Intellectual poverty

Charles Cowling

wood-chipper

 

“People are also turning to alternatives to the traditional funeral. Some are holding do-it-yourself funerals, and even having to bury relatives in their back garden. A number of companies are offering cut-price funerals, including “direct” cremations that have no formal service attached to them.”

That was Emma Lewell-Buck MP presenting the Funeral Services Bill in the House of Commons yesterday and somehow managing to name-check Royal London three times in the first 4 paragraphs.  

You’ve read about this because it’s everywhere — the lurid claim that disadvantaged people are burying their dead in their back gardens. I expect you felt, as we did at the GFG, that Ms Lewell-Buck under-egged her argument. For she must know as well as us that poor people are routinely and in sharply rising numbers also disposing of their dead in wood-chippers, acid baths, on garden barbecues and in country lay-bys. 

 What’s odd/interesting/remarkable is that no one seems to have queried her claim. Anybody in possession of a right mind would, you think, have smelled an XL rat and called her bluff. 

 Nope.  The readiness of the great British public, including the great British press pack, to suspend their incredulity when presented with ocean-going baloney about funerals is amazing.

 So, well done Ms L-B, you seem to have got away with it. Well done for stigmatising DIY funerals and direct cremation while you were about it. Well done for branding a public health funeral a pauper’s funeral. And well done for distracting people from serious discussion of the issues. 

 We are sorry to hear that your Bill will lapse due to lack of parliamentary time.

Emma

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Pic of a poor person digging a grave in his garden in today’s Metro 

 

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Terea EvansIan QuanceCharlesDavid HolmesMichael Jarvis Recent comment authors

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David Holmes
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She is a Labour MP, perhaps hoping to draw attention to this all being a by-product of the wicked Tories economic failure and savage cuts?

A care-home called us today, having recommended our business to a family who live some distance away. The family then called us, and said ‘but if you’re too expensive, we wont be using you.’ I believe this caution was as a direct result of those ‘greedy overpriced undertakers’ stories we all saw and heard this week.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Get real, David, if you people didn’t exist no one would die.

Jonathan Taylor
Guest
Jonathan Taylor

“The problem with funerals is not that they cost too much, but that they cost at all. The funeral that communities used to provide for themselves has been stolen, and then sold back to them, at a price. We are now so used to this that all we can complain about is the cost at which it is sold back!”

(Topny Walter, 1990, p 80)

David Holmes
Guest

I’m afraid this is just the usual funerals are interesting, so let’s not bother with the facts media storm. This time, caused by a probably well intentioned MP, but really, it’s depressing. The real funeral poverty story is lost. The alternative funerals are good story is lost. The media won’t come back to this subject now for months, years even. Have you ever noticed, coach crashes and plane disasters are reported in a similar way? Once one occurs, the papers follow up every other minor non event until they get bored and move on. Add dog bites/killer dogs to the… Read more »

Michael Jarvis
Guest
Michael Jarvis

I was in the public gallery and witnessed Mrs Lewell-Buck’s performance first hand. The reference to garden burials was astonishing, and I speak as one who has advised quite extensively on private land burial over the years. An even more misguided dash down a blind alley was the reference to a loan shark debt incurred in connection with the purchase of a headstone. With regard to Royal London, I know that many of your readers, Charles, are sniffy about insurance companies, but it is a fact that AXA’s statistical research and commissioned reports has been invaluable to many from the… Read more »

Teresa Evans
Guest

It appears that to protect confidentiality, Emma Lewell-Buck is unable to reveal the names of people who have resorted to burying relatives in their back garden because they are skint. I feel she ought to hang her head in shame for stigmatising those who have chosen to bury in their own land for no other reason than simply having a desire to do so, irrespective of their worth. This extends to those that will do so in the future. She has wasted a valuable opportunity to flag up what the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) warned of time and time… Read more »

Ian Quance
Guest
Ian Quance

” local authorities are inadequate and continually produce misleading information about what the law says and doesn’t say. Public officials cannot make the law to mean whatever they want it to mean.” – could expand on this Teresa? I’m really not sure what you mean by this or what supporting evidence you may have.

Having worked in and around local authority bereavement services for nearly two decades I have only found dedicated individuals trying to do the best under difficult circumstances. Some may be more educated in the their role than others, but many are working to change this.

Terea Evans
Guest

Regrettably Ian I have a lot of evidence of LA’s producing misinformation. I don’t recall an occasion where I have requested changes to online information for the public benefit and my request has been met. I am often told that my comments have been noted and changes may be made when the website is updated. Any reasonable person could conclude that the newly bereaved, or those making arrangements for their own funerals, need sound information today…not weeks, months or years later. Take for example information produced about acquiring a grave in a public cemetery. No one is able to “purchase”… Read more »

Allistair Anderson
Guest

Hi Charles, it’s interesting that all these poor people own their own homes and gardens in order to bury. I’m interested where she gets her info from. Also what are the figures on back garden burials ?

Charles
Guest
Charles

Very good point indeed, Allistair.

I don’t know that anyone knows how many people bury their dead in garden because there’s no centralised reporting point — but it does tend to come out when the house comes up for sale, as one did in Teddington in January this year, where the owners are buried. The FD who supervised at least one of the burials is a good friend of the GFG. The estate agent is reported as saying that this happens more than you’d think. See – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/for-sale-fourbedroom-terraced-house-650000–with-previous-owners-bodies-in-back-garden-9052267.html

Jonathan Taylor
Guest
Jonathan Taylor

… AND, if that poor person seen digging a grave can’t see his enormous back garden’s obvious potential as a green burial thingy place, it just goes to show that not only are the poor unable to cook or get proper jobs, they can’t even think. They’ve no-one to blame but themselves!

Jonathan Taylor
Guest
Jonathan Taylor

Well, with a bit of luck Emma will have scuppered her execrable bill, calling as it does on the government to mess around the edges of matters they don’t understand any more than she does, by making herself look so utterly ridiculous.

Perhaps it’s time we who are working to actually reduce financial and other stress for real recently bereaved people abandoned the term ‘Funeral Poverty’ before it becomes just another buzz word. This problem has to be solved from the ground up, and without all the fanfare and distraction.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Ground up, eh? I don’t think the people who know best would like the sound of that, Jonathan, their voices would be lost in the throng. Very dirigiste, these do-gooders. If you want to know what you can do, wait to be told.