Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Deathly prizes in Bournemouth

Everyone knows what Bournemouth looks like:

but beware! in ten days' time in a secret underground bunker below the deck chairs and the elderly people strolling along the prom, it will be full of fiends celebrating the Grim Reaper, and waving tiny coffins aloft with glee:

Don't be silly, Gloria, I tell myself (often...) The Good Funeral Awards celebrate not the Reaper himself, but the work of those who try to help us and ours when He has Reaped. 

As His Reaperness says whilst sharpening his scythe and looking longingly at our necks,"It's a hell of a job - in some cases - but someone's got to do it. Next please." 

The assorted undertakers, celebrants, sextons, grave-diggers, chapel attendants and others who will be attending might echo the Reaper's sentiments about it being a hell of a job,  except that I reckon many or most of such people regard the work as hugely privileged and fulfilling. 

I was astonished (no really, darlings) to be nominated for an award last year, and my gob was well and truly smacked when I was runner up in a category about significant contributions to the understanding of death. I couldn't alas attend, but I was mightily touched.

This year someone close to me has been nominated as funeral celebrant of the year. He doesn't expect to get an award (the list is long and contains people known to me and him as truly outstanding people) but he's going to totter down there.

Because of course it's not about a tiny model coffin, it's not about winning or not; it's about celebrating difficult but important work, about like-minded people getting together, and it's to move forward public understanding and acceptance of our mortality. 

Because the Reaper's success rate so far is 100%, and either we accept that and use it to live better and happier lives, or we try to ignore it. Personally, I don't think the latter is a sound plan.

So hooray for Bournemouth, and hooray for the two jovial coves below: Brian Jenner, organiser of the weekend, on the left. On the right, Charles Cowling of Good Funeral Guide fame, co-conspirator with Brian in  these deathly celebrations. Bravo, chaps!

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