Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Thursday, August 19, 2004

It's a thin line. About six feet deep.

Is there's one thing watching Six Feet Under is guaranteed to do it's force me to think about death.I always thought that was unhealthy, but like most things, musing about death is healthy in bite-size portions.

Brother's just made me realise that *most* people don't sit around in churchyards and eat lunch. Brother, and most of the country, think its a little disrespectful to sit among the dead and eat a picnic. Personally, I think they could use the company.

When I used to work in Abbots Langley the nicest, and most peaceful spot was the churchyard, which surrounded an ancient church and sat at the heart of the village. I believe that places like that are too good not to share between the dead and the living, so l found a spot under a huge tree to eat my sandwiches and be harassed by wasps.

As a former altar server (and I'm surprised that's never come up before) I've been to more funerals than most, and no matter how much we disconnect them with ceremony every person there is one of us, even the one in the box. Death's not something alien, although given that we go out of our way to shun it you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was. The sooner we can consciously admit how we feel about it the sooner we all start to grow up.

Time was when I looked at funeral ceremonies from certain cultures as alien. I saw the wailing prominent in an lndian burial as unhealthy and gut-wrenching. But now I see that screaming and weeping are natural to loss and pain and I wish I'd done the same in the past. In this culture tears are expressed in private, with repression of grief seen as a virture, and a person displaying real emotion at a funeral is to be pitied and politely but firmly led away from respectable company. Mourning is carried out in darkened rooms with the curtains drawn; death in great wooden boxes firmly nailed shut. Now it's my own culture that seems alien to me.

Unlike the Norman town of Abbots Langley, Borehamwood was built by modern people who chose to put their cemetary, and death itself, right outside the town. Like every other new town in Britain, dead peoplea are not something that we want near our houses and shopping centres.

But it guarantees everyone's going to get out of Borehamwood eventually.


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