When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No memorabilia

No memorabilia, originally uploaded by Sparrows' Friend.

I was talking about soggy teddy bears, wind chimes, plastic flowers, windmills, toys, and football shirts with one of the Ipswich cemetery staff, and he said he thought it began after the Hillsborough disaster, when fans left scarves and flowers at the football club gates.

I've previously written about the waste of money when Diana died, and London's streets were full of dead flowers and stuffed toys.

This photo's on Flickr, where a contact wrote, "Having seen the hideous stuff in Bury St Edmunds Crematorium I'm not surprised. I used to think vicars were being snobbish in their limitations over graves; Bury's gardens of remembrance have put me clear on that."

It's all so tacky. Leaving flowers on a grave has been enough, until recently, to signify that someone is missed, and that his or her nearest and dearest are keeping his or her memory alive. What does a pile of tat say about someone? Nothing, but it does say a lot about how people who struggle to express their loss will imitate one another without really thinking about it. It's what Richard Dawkins calls a "meme", like the fashion for wearing baseball caps back to front. I don't know how long this fashion will last, but I hope it's not long.


Charles Cowling said...

You say nothing about flowers sweltering in cellophane, Margaret. I've got a bit of a thing about those. Solar powered angels, on the other hand, I love.

It's an interesting phenomenon, a thorny, broken glass-strewn phenomenon. Because, as unsnobbish as the UK has become, it (hush, hush, whisper who dares) reveals that class divides are alive and gaping. Everyone rejects the Victorian aesthetic and seeks a new one. Yer snotty toffs go for minimalist natural burial grounds; yer lower orders favour shiny black granite and a maximalist (or whatever the antonym is) blingfest which, yes, is susceptible to inundation by rain, fading by sun and rapid degeneration.

This is a PC minefield into which I steadfastly refuse to stray. The point of view I avow is each to their own. It's the closest I can get to no comment.

But if you were to subject me to a spot of rendition I should have to confess to a weakness for tacky clobber. For all its emotional incontinence it shows heart.

I expect you will elicit some ire, Margaret. I delight in your feistiness.

Sentiment said...

reAhh I love a bit of Tat and I do think when it comes to funerals we can be forgiven if we drop our middle class screen and embrace a bit of tackiness.

Today’s funeral consisted of about £8,000 - £10,000 worth of flowers!!! 3 lorry loads of flowers each made into something unusual from the Tower of London to a Coke Can! This could have been perceived as tasteless and over the top,and seeing as they dominated the entire cemetery I’m sure it would have given some old boy a reason to moan... However I thought it was bloody wonderful - what a send off?

There was a Childs grave close by that was just packed with really cute bits and bobs and 2 sets of wind chimes. The wind chimes were subtly twinkling in the wind. The sounds seem to fit perfectly with the mood of the funeral, the sun shining down, the birds in the trees and the wind rustling the leaves. Also walking past it makes you stop, look and think.

I often spend hours looking at people graves. I don’t find it tacky, I find it endearing. I can just imagine a mum walking round the garden centre and seeing a fairy and saying "That would look lovely on our Lucy’s grave"

We are all different and entitled to our own views. For me, I like the idea that my daughter could leave her favourite teddy on my grave to keep mummy safe at night...