Famous last words about

“When they told me they were going to induct my friend George Harrison into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame posthumously, my first thought was – I bet he won’t show up.”

From Eric Idle’s eulogy to George Harrison

An Irish love story

An elderly man lay dying in his bed.

While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favourite scones wafting up the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning on the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the railing with both hands, he crawled downstairs.

With laboured breath, he leaned against the door-frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death’s agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favourite scones.

Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of love from his devoted Irish wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in rumpled posture. His aged and withered hand trembled towards a scone at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked by his wife with a wooden spoon…

‘Fuck off’ she said, ‘they’re for the funeral.’

A golden oldie requested by JS.

Caitlin Moran offers posthumous advice to her daughter

Here’s one we missed earlier: journalist Caitlin Moran’s draft last letter to her daughter published in The Times in July of last year (remember 2013?). You can find the entire article (£) here

My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to get out – I’ve thought about writing her one of those “Now I’m Dead, Here’s My Letter Of Advice For You To Consult As You Continue Your Now Motherless Life” letters. Here’s the first draft. Might tweak it a bit later. When I’ve had another fag.

“Dear Lizzie. Hello, it’s Mummy. I’m dead. Sorry about that. I hope the funeral was good – did Daddy play Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen when my coffin went into the cremator? I hope everyone sang along and did air guitar, as I stipulated. And wore the stick-on Freddie Mercury moustaches, as I ordered in the ‘My Funeral Plan’ document that’s been pinned on the fridge since 2008, when I had that extremely self-pitying cold.

“Look – here are a couple of things I’ve learnt on the way that you might find useful in the coming years. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start… The main thing is just to try to be nice … Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.

“Second, always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.

“Three – always pick up worms off the pavement and put them on the grass. They’re having a bad day, and they’re good for… the earth or something (ask Daddy more about this; am a bit sketchy).

“Four: choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.

“This segues into the next tip: life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’ Even when Jesus was on the cross, I bet He was thinking, ‘When I rise in three days, the disciples aren’t going to believe this when I tell them about it.’

“Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it. Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes, talk to Daddy and Nancy about me every day and never, ever start smoking. It’s like buying a fun baby dragon that will grow and eventually burn down your f***ing house.

“Love, Mummy.”

Who is mimicking who?

 Posted by Richard Rawlinson 

Two seasonal events coming up: the Nine Lessons and Carols is a traditional Christmas Eve ceremony, the most famous and widely broadcast being the service from King’s College, Cambridge; and Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, is showing for 10 nights in December at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre. A rationalist celebration of Yuletide, this year’s line-up promises music by Jonny & The Baptists (pictured) and stand-up comedy by Alexei Sayle.

Of course, members of the British Humanist Association, a non-prophet organisation, might enjoy the former, just as Christians might enjoy the latter. You don’t need to believe in angels to sing along to Robbie Williams’s Angels. And a bit of incredulous mockery doesn’t do the faithful any harm.

Though from an era of more restrained comedy, I’ve LOL’d at Dave Allen’s religious gags. Attending a funeral as a child, he recalls thinking the priest was saying: ‘In the name of the father and of the Son and into the hole he goes’. 

There are a few gentle jokes about non-believers, too. What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with an atheist? Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason.

The there’s the one about a priest and rational sceptic both up for the guillotine. Asked for his final words, the priest says: ‘I believe in God who will rescue me in my hour of need’. The executioner then pulls the cord, but the blade of the ominous contraption of death suddenly stops just short of his neck. ‘A miracle,’ gasps the crowd, and the executioner lets him go free.

Next, the rationalist is asked for his final words. He doesn’t hear the question as he’s staring intently at the guillotine. The executioner asks again to which the rationalist finally replies: ’Oh, I see your problem. You’ve got a blockage in the gear assembly, right there.’

Now to the more serious question of who is copying who at funerals, the subject for which the Nine Lessons and Carols events were a mere prelude:

Are secular funerals still too closely following the ceremonial rituals and traditions of religion? Or is the trend among religious funerals towards emphasis on eulogy and celebration of life in fact aping secularism? Are they merging into one and, if so, should they define themselves more clearly?

A glass of Grim Reaper?

Posted by Vale

The Urban Dictionary (strapline: The Dictionary you wrote) is great place for the gross, the ghastly and the newly minted.

It’s for people who speak ‘urban’ and the definitions reflect their preferences and predilections. For example there is no definition of the word morning because:

the type of people who speak ‘urban’ do not know what morning is.

“Now that I’ve got a job I’ve got to get up in THE MORNING.”
“Morning? What the hell’s that?”

Dead is defined very simply:

1. dead
 Britney Spear’s career – Wow britney spears sucks Dead images: These dudes are dead.

2. dead
 Something that is no longer living and can now be kicked – Yep it’s dead! *Kicks it*

And did you know the Grim Reaper was also a cocktail? Me neither:

5. Grim Reaper
The Grim Reaper is a cocktail made with equal parts vodka, gin, tequila and cask wine. The mix is traditionally made with Mishka, Gordon’s, 125 and Fruity Lexia respectively. The ingredients are known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The spirits are meant to be the cheapest possible in order to replicate the authenticity of the Grim Reaper. Variations upon this formula include the Fancy Reaper (expensive spirits and wine), the Bloody Reaper (substitute white goon with red) and the Grim Suicide (3 full bottles in a cask of wine).

The side effects are not well documented, with reports of dizziness, memory loss, feelings of grimness, random acts of extreme violence, unwitting transportation across state borders, death, irate messages and grand larceny.

It is believed that these ingredients are the basis for the drug PCP, weed killer and embalming fluid.

The controversy associated with the Grim is the inability to refuse once the beverage is suggested. Despite the danger, this can lead to a Double Grim and in rare cases a Triple Grim: some claim that Sid Vicious did 7 Grim Reapers before his death, however the evidence is unsubstantiated.

They should certainly be serving Grim Reapers in the bar at this years National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh in June, don’t you think?

The Gravedigger’s Wedding


by Kevin Paul and Harold Arpthorp (1926)
‘Twas the day of the gravedigger’s wedding,
The churchyard was shrouded in gloom,
And the lads of the village sat silent,
As they played tiddley winks on a tomb.
The villagers trooped up the High Street,
Trying their best not to grieve,
They were losing their jolly young sexton, 
And alas there could be no reprieve,
Mr. Coffin, the star undertaker, 
Was giving his daughter away,
And despite his morose occupation, 
Was doing his best to look gay. 
He had finished the final arrangements, 
And had measured both bridegroom and bride,
He had ordered the finest brass fittings,
And the hearse in which homeward they’d ride.
The villagers all were invited,
Invitations sent out to each guest,
Said, “Be in the churchyard at mid-day,”
And ended “No flowers by request.”
The bride wore a gown of black muslin,
And everyone said she looked grand, 
A veil of black crepe o’er her shoulders,
And she carried a wreath in her hand.
The bridegroom had laid down his shovel, 
In order to take up a wife, 
And he whispered aloud to the verger,
“It’s the sorriest day of my life!”
He arrived an hour late for the wedding, 
And the crowd were all getting alarmed,
He had been in the old “Crown and Anchor”
Getting completely embalmed.
The parson was solemnly waiting,
The bride and the groom at the rails,
Her train was held up by two pages,
His pants were held up by two nails,
And when the parson had joined them and blessed ’em,
They were sentenced for better or worse,
And the organ played “Rescue the Perishing,”
As they hurried away in the hearse.
The guests followed on to the breakfast,
The bridesmaids were sent in a cab,
The feast was laid out in the parlour,
The best man laid out on a slab.
The verger had charge of the breakfast, 
The most popular toast that he gave,
Was “Health and long life to the bridegroom,
May he live to dig many a grave.”
The breakfast was very near over,
The guests were half screwed in their chairs, 
The husband was asked where the bride was,
He answered, “The body’s upstairs.”
Hat-tip: Pete Smith. Thanks!

Judge throws dead man out of court

Two South Korean fisherfolk,  Soon Ill Hwang and Dae Jun Lee, were accused in New Zealand of illegally dumping dead fish at sea. 

What happened next?

Soon Ill Hwang was killed in a car crash.

And then?

A solicitor representing the fisheries ministry insisted to m’learned lud that the show must go on — Soon must be brought to book.

And in the end?

Judge Gary MacAskill hurled the case out with great force. “It reminds me of Monty Python and his dead parrot,” he said. 


In jest?

Lockwood woman’s colourful funeral request – including a jester to walk in front of hearse

Funeral director Debbie Ingham dressed as a jester at the funeral of Margaret Harper

IT WAS a fitting end to a colourful life.

Lockwood grandmother Margaret Harper had only one dying wish – that no-one wore black to her funeral.

Friends and family rallied around this week to dress as brightly as possible to celebrate the 81-year-old’s life.

And funeral director and family friend Deborah Ingham stuck to her promise by leading the cortege dressed as jester.

The funeral procession turned heads in Lockwood as it slowly made its way towards Huddersfield crematorium.

Mourners then gathered at Lockwood Baptist Church – where Margaret was a member and ran the Sunday school for many years – for a celebration of her life.

Her daughter Geri Harper, 55, said: “There was a big cheer and laughter when everyone saw the procession. Someone even said ‘only at Margaret Harper’s funeral could they turn up and everyone bursts into laughter.’

“That is what she would have wanted.

“Debbie is a friend of the family and used to live next door to us when she was a kid.

“When she became a funeral director, my mum would tell her there was no way she would wear black to her funeral.

“She was even going to knit Debbie a poncho but never got around to it.

“That was her only request at her funeral, that everyone would wear bright clothes.”


Read more about Deborah Ingham here

Posted by Evelyn

Not cricket

Upset by the sale of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG, a group of AC Milan supporters expressed the widely held disappointment of their fellow football fans by leaving a small funeral arrangement outside the club’s via Turati offices. A funeral card, candles and flowers were set up near the building’s front door in the scene made to symbolize the faith some fans have left in the club after selling two of their best players.

You know my methods, Watson.


David Holmes, funeral director to the discerning folk of Surrey, recently got into a waterfight with the water board. Click on the photo to bring it up to full size.