The End Of The World
Week 2

James Leavey's


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By James Leavey

Had a bit of a shock when I went through this month’s bank statement. Seems I’m worth more dead, than alive, what with the cost of funerals being so high.

Rushed out to the local library and found the perfect solution: The New Natural Death Handbook, edited by Nicholas Albery and Stephanie Wienrich. It includes a guide to all of Britain’s woodland burial grounds and mail-order cardboard coffins, the best funeral directors, cemeteries and crematoria, the law on private land burial, and inexpensive funerals ‘without funeral directors’. Not sure what ‘New’ means, for Death is a hoary old subject, but the blurb on the cover assures me that the contents are in their 3rd edition, completely revised and expanded. So that’s all right, then.

After a quick flick through, decided to leave copies for the Beloved Wife and my two children. That way, they may be encouraged to stuff my remains under the runners beans in the back garden, or dump my body in a black bin-liner over the side of a pedalo off Portsmouth, while I devote the rest of my life and earnings to Havanas and single Malts.

The only other thing I need now is someone to write my obituary, preferably a professional liar experienced in the art of producing fantasy and science fiction. And prepared to gloss over the embarrassing details I’d rather nobody else knew about.

Even better, I could edit my obituary, before they print it. Of course, what I really want is for everyone to say what a wonderful person I was, and how much they miss me. I’d love to be there when the bank manager reads it, the bastard.

It must be a lucrative job, being a biographer. You’ll never run out of subjects. I’m thinking of ringing the editor of the Daily Telegraph or New York Times, providing a list of my most famous friends and acquaintances, and offering to rewrite their lives, for a fee. You don’t even have to wait until they’ve snuffed it – just tack the date of their death at the end, and shove in a few quotes from anybody vaguely famous who knew them.

This Death business is getting so exciting, I’m almost looking forward to my funeral. Hope it’s like the one which saw off my Uncle Paddy. I arrived late, sat at the back with some distant, aging relatives, and woke up when my cousin announced to the congregation that the vicar would now play my uncle’s favourite tune, ‘Wandering Star’ from ‘Paint Your Wagon’. The daft old bats on either side of me thought they were at a karaoke, and joined in the choruses. It ended with the whole back row of us at the church holding hands and swaying from side to side, doing our best to keep up with Lee Marvin.

Just in case anyone’s interested, I’d like the final stripper scene, from ‘The Full Monty’.

Meanwhile, I hope to make it to the next column. If not, I’d prefer you read all about me through a pair of rose-tinted glasses.

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