My daughters have developed an interest in funeral customs.
‘Is the open coffin thing an Irish tradition Dad. Do you want one?’
‘I think they do it in lots of cultures’, I guessed, ‘but I’ve seen a few in my time.’
‘Didn’t your mum once take you to someone’s house when they were dead?’
‘Indeed she did, yes. She said we were going to Tess’s house to pay our respects. She didn’t warn me that Tess was lying in her coffin in the front room and no, I don’t want one’.
‘Were you frightened Dad?’
‘No, but it was one of the more memorable house calls I made with my mother.’
‘What about the circus cannon? Do you still want to have your ashes fired from a circus cannon Dad?’
‘I’ve been considering that wish and I think I am going to give you girls 3 options to mark my passing:
Indeed, the circus cannon. I think the firing of my ashes mixed with glitter from a very loud circus cannon at a moment of peak excitement in the circus programme would be just splendid. I’d like to think that ‘I’ would shower down on to happy smiling faces and if there was enough glitter involved they would never suspect that the strange dust was six parts old guy cremains. My atomised self would then be carried on clothing and shoes into the living rooms of elated Blaydon families returning home full of tales of the circus. I would happily mingle with their house dust and dog hairs and end up (still glittering a little) in their Dysons.
I would also not be the least bit averse to having my ashes flung with absolutely no ceremony or a second thought from the bridge at the foot of the hill in Cloonaghgarve, County Galway. As previously mentioned this bridge was blown up twice by my great grandfather in his campaign of sabotage against the British colonialists. My great-grandfather died an old man of natural causes, by the way.
Egg timer. This is a new one, but would repurpose my ashes and put them to good household use. Put my ashes in a plain, but tasteful, egg-timer to sit on a kitchen shelf. The new 'me' would be wipe clean, very useful and wouldn’t look out of place on Instagram.’
‘Wouldn’t it need to be really big, Dad, to take all of your ashes?’
‘Not necessarily. You could just use the finer ashes for the egg-timer and design it so that it timed a pizza in the crazy hot bottom oven. About 8 minutes I reckon. The coarser cremains could be added to some brightly coloured maracas and these could be shaken while you/your friends/your children/their children (eventually) have a sing-song while they wait for the pizzas.’