Thursday, 26 February 2009

“It isn’t wrong, but we just don’t do it”

"Can we not agree just to suspend our critical faculties and let others do their thing"

(fab quote taken from Tuesdays blog update from the Good Funeral Guide)

My 2 years old daughter's favourite Thomas the Tank Engine book is ‘Gordon’ (we have read it every night for 3 weeks and I feel it’s speaking to me personally!!)

Gordon is a stereotypical English Engine, pompous, grumpy and jealous and always thinks his way is the right way! In the book he tells Henry off (my favourite engine) for whistling too much (Henry is a chirpy little engine)

Gordon moans “
Henry whistles too much. No respectable engine whistles loudly at stations. It isn't wrong, but you just don't do it”
After that, Henry is upset. Percy (the cute little green engine) tells him that he likes Henry's whistle,
Then Gordon saunters past telling Henry to remember what he said!
Later on in the story Gordon learns his lesson when his whistle valve blocks and his whistles all day long! When he gets back to the sheds all the other Engines take the piss out of him” it isn’t wrong but we just don’t do it!! (woh ha ha that’ll teach you Gordon)

In the
Good Funeral Guide blog it talks about British snobbery when it comes to tributes (such as flowers, letters, teddy’s at roadside memorials and great big plastic smiley faces and wind chimes on children’s graves) and why people like to complain about them. Here in England we like a good old moan and negative twist on everything we see that we don't necessarily agree with, especially when it comes to how we deal with death in an open hearted manner. As Gordon say’s (and the rest of the miserable UK) .... “it isn’t wrong but we just don’t do it”

Sound familiar? Like the old school English pompous funeral directors and their views on anything modern and outside of tradition!?

I like the fact that we are more open with our grief. The fact that so many people make such an effort to show their affections and display their grief by publicly placing letters, teddy’s, flowers etc. Its a comfort and I like it.

When Diana died seas of flowers were laid, yet there was so many people moaning that it was disguising and a waste. People couldn't understand why you would lay flowers for someone you didn’t know. “it isn’t wrong but we just don’t do it”. I liked it, I thought it was wonderful everyone came together and indulged in a bit of public grief!

I also like roadside memorials. It gives people driving past a moment to remember that they are not indestructible in fact they are themselves the possible destroyers - Albeit, it may only sit with them for a wee second as they drive by, but the thought is still implanted on their mind.

Public displays of grief and emotion show that we are human. Generations are becoming more and more open with their feelings and I like it! Down with the old English way and in with the all America heart and cheese – before we know it here in Great Britain we’ll all be standing at bereaved family’s front doors with candles singing ‘Calling All Angles’ ;o)


  1. Terrific stuff, Louise, and you have got my day off to a very slow start with that YouTube film. It's definitely a three-hanky number -- and a GREAT song, way up the schmaltz scale. Yum.

    What a great catchphrase ('It isn't wrong...)! And so old-school English and so withering and blighting.

    I wonder if you detect a whiff of snobbery in these natural burial grounds? I think there may be an element of "Well, I'm certainly not going down to that ghastly council cemetery and be buried in the midst of all that frightful tat. I mean, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, but really, it's just not done, is it?"

    I don't think it's in any way a dominating motive for choosing to spend eternity in a buttercup meadow. It's just a thought...

    Anyone who piddles freezing water onto warm and generous emotions and expressions of feeling is, in my view, just about as wicked as it gets.

    So my song today is 'Naff, glorious naff! / All tinsel and plastic / I'll weep and I'll laugh / Your teddy's fantastic...

    Great post, Louise!

  2. Laughing very hard... ooh Charles , I need to find a song to replace your little tune as its sitting in the front of my mind on loudspeaker!

    Yes and no on the woodland burial ground question. The one by us is really lovely, you can have wind chimes and anything as long as its natural / biodegradable. Each kids section has a snowdrop tree and People have put things like a bee's box / hedgehog boxes / wooden memorials etc near the graves . If you want to go with all natural then Woodland would be your choice and you go for that reason. I feel with the kiddie graves at the 'council' graves it’s like walking into a festival, with all the colours – totally he opposite to the woodland – but then different people have different choices (and budgets!!)

  3. Good point, well said, Louise. I just have a wee fear that natural burial grounds are going to become the private schools of the funeral industry -- places for 'us' rather than 'them'. I'm probably over-egging it -- but I shall be keeping my eye on them!

  4. ummm, well yes put it like that and yea you are right, they are. I don’t think they mean to aim for that, but I think the middle classes do sway to them. plus they are quite pricey too – to keep the chav bodies out!!

  5. I'm not sure I entirely agree about natural burial grounds being the privelege of the middle classes. Not all are as elaborate as the woodland one Louise wrote about. We buried my dad 2 years ago at the Chesham Bois natural burial ground, which is adjacent to the cemetry, having chosen it because my dad hated religion and had loved a previous funeral we went to where a family member was buried on a blustery hillside. Cemetries can be very dour, solemn places and somehow invoke sadness rather than happy remembrance.

    I don't work in the funeral industry, so have no idea what people spend on funerals, but if the large screen tv's and satellite dishes on some estates are anything to go by, sometimes it's not a matter of how much money you have, but how you choose to spend it. We ended up having my dad's coffin built by a friend - do we really need all that fancy stuff in a box we're going to stick in the ground?

    Love the video by the way, Lou, one of my favourite films.