Posts Tagged ‘Retort’

We are not dying like we used to.

August 26, 2013

We are not dying like in the good old days.

I have written before on how things are crook in the world of the dedicated undertaker.Now it is worldwide. Embalmers, grave diggers, crematorium sweepers, they are all huddled around street corners hoping for a body, shovels are going rusty and listless undertakers reduced to sipping buttermilk or lukewarm tea.

Some of the largest retorts have been switched off and lying idle, saving gas or electricity. These are hard times.

Unfortunately, the best of the undertakers etc will get out of the industry. Many embalmers already have taken up restoring cars, cane furniture or simply becoming panel beaters. The industry will find it hard to replace those that took pride in their work. Many were answering an almost sacred plea during the peak or heydays of the dying, few were chosen. The very best were artists in their own right and could name their price. It was as much a calling as becoming a bishop or a Venetian gondolier.

Many corpses were left with the signature of the embalmer as recognizable as a vintner could call his ‘vins de Bordeaux.’ The best of them clearly under emphasized their work, were modest and yet worked with much devotion and creativity.

It makes one wonder how the industry will fare in the future. I am pretty sure that, no matter what, the trade from ‘ashes to ashes’ will survive.

Already many of the smaller undertakers were taken over by the larger ones and with mass buying of coffins and introduction of solar heated crematoriums and retorts, costs were cut, prices lowered. Many are now corporate giants and listed on the Dow Jones, The FT100, and the AEX etc. Some of the smaller funeral directors tried double dipping with re-use of coffins, the introduction of flat pack carton coffins with Allen key, plastic re-usable flowers and introducing three for the price of one and other sustainable solutions.

The logistics of less numbers dying now seems a problem that will take innovative action. The larger corporate ones have taken to offering ‘Corpus-futures’ (CF’s) the same as already existing with pork bellies, soya beans etc. One has the option of going ‘short’ or ‘long’ on the dearly departed. Timing is of the essence though.

The experts can blame longevity on the mild weather or the habit of taking vitamins, exercise and tofu milk with cucumber but I wonder if people are cutting corners and doing a swifty and burying Aunt Agnes on the sly under Rufus the dog kennel? Are there economic reasons at play here? How does that stack up though against all those funereal insurance TV ads with so many of the ‘happy’ Rolfing around in the knowledge that for the cost of a mere weekly latte or sugar slushy they will get a nice warm cremation or a burial without having to worry afterwards and lying awake all night.

Anyway, you can get a decent funeral for less than an Mp with 5 Gigabytes; including a box of I love Lucy VD’s thrown in for niks.

The problem seems odd. On the one hand, robust health with longevity and mild weather is to be blamed, yet on the other side obesity and the Big quarter pounder Mac were seen by many as the savior for the industry. What is happening here? Is there some rort going on somewhere?

I am suspicious.

The Joy of ageing with Milk bottle Lenses. (no walking stick)

April 25, 2013


The joy of ageing with Milk bottle Lenses. (No walking stick)

The eye test is scheduled for 30th of April at 10am sharp. The hearing test will be May the 13th, anytime after 2pm and in Sydney. In both cases bring your health benefit card!

The right eye is being threatened by a good bout of (old) age related Macular disease resulting in loss of vision. It is irreparable but a good diet is advised and there can be injections into the affected eye that may be of some help as well. There are lots of aids including magnifying glasses, super strong spectacles with milk bottle lenses, enlarged print in books and change the settings on computers to giant format with an added opportunity for those that as the loss of vision increases and a thick depression blankets in, you can share your loss with an experienced counselor who will ease you into accepting that life is short, and anyway,” it doesn’t last forever”. Have you chosen your casket yet? That’s just such great news. Keep up your pecker Gerard.

I know I should fear large brown bears or trucks on the footpaths, but loss of vital organs is in a class of their own. I mean, can’t read the small print on the gas bill anymore? What could possibly be worse? Can’t hear the ads on channel 10 or 7, those lovely jingles by Harvey Norman’s ‘Get it now” exhorting us to buy the latest nest of woven plastic tables and chairs for outdoor dining together with a gleaming turbo driven eight burner stainless steel kitchen cum barbeque life style enhancement.

Why then do we get so many ads relating to funeral cost protection lately? You get to see this happy family cavorting with kids on a sloping lawn with the wife beaming happily in the knowledge that her hubby has taken out a good solid funeral protection plan. He looks so proud! It all adds so much to lifestyle. What are they trying to tell us? Should we ask the funeral organizers to put the cremation retort on low or stand-by? Is that part of ‘life-style’ as well or is it more of a death-style? How’s your death- style going might well be the next catchy phrase?  Is it still thriving, getting warm?

If that is all what lays ahead it can’t be too bad? There is still lovely food and nice conversations with friends and family but I do resist the temptation of the old and weary to rabbit on about   ‘the good old days’ when petrol was 2shillings and six pence a gallon and Franquin the Great Magician was as hilarious an evening of entertainment it could ever get. I just put on the ‘for the hearing impaired’ ear phones and listen yet again to ‘le piano du pauvre.’

Nothing could chase the grandkids back home to mum and dad quicker than when I put on that piece of music and ask H for yet another fox-trot. (Or talk about the benefits of a Jules Verne book)

I have learnt my lesson well and leave the kids to their IPod, Pad, Tablets and Apps and console myself that a similar fate will befall them as well. “You will all be lucky to get out of it alive, I tell them”. They look a bit bewildered when I say that. Oma puts them at rest and says “your Opa is just kidding you”; “he is always joking and making fun.” “Don’t take him seriously!” “He is going gaga.”

I can still put on my own socks and you walk rather briskly, so my lovely wife tells me.

This journey is still ongoing.