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Donkin's World: Dead Letter Box

...I wrote a letter describing how I thought cremations and burials were something of a waste of a useful resource and that a better idea after death would be to convert people's remains to compost...

Richard Donkin muses on the disposal of the remains when we are no longer who we are.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site
http://www.richarddonkin.com/

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

Many years ago at the start of my career in journalism I worked on the Morley Observer, a weekly newspaper that, for reasons of economy, was based in Batley where it shared offices and sometimes pages with the Batley News.

The editor of both newspapers at the time was Keith Hustler. Shaking his pale, slender hand was like introducing yourself to a dead herring, except that herrings have more body.

He gave me my first job in journalism then very quickly regretted it when I became active in the trade union. It would be fair to say that we didn't get on.

I remember we were discussing game shooting once and he told me he had shot a pheasant with an air pistol at close range. It didn't surprise me.

I would have described the newspapers' readership profile in the 1970s as middle-aged to ageing, conservative and traditional, the sort of people you can rely on to run the Boy Scouts or to turn out to the church or chapel at Whitsuntide. The births, marriages and deaths columns was meat and drink to this readership.

Unfortunately our readers did not write the liveliest letters and Hustler decided one day that we needed to liven up the letters column so asked his reporters if we could come up with some ideas, posing as readers.

I wrote a letter describing how I thought cremations and burials were something of a waste of a useful resource and that a better idea after death would be to convert people's remains to compost so that they could be ploughed in to the ground. This would be fine for me, I wrote.

It was insensitive, crass and in poor taste - so right up the editor's street. He published it, then published the angry responses the following week. I take no pride from this small episode in my past but the sentiments were genuine, if crudely expressed. I do like the idea of woodland burials.

Now, however, I have discovered that the idea was ahead of its time. There is a company out there willing to turn us in to compost if we so wish. Promessa offers what it calls an "ecological burial".

I came across it in this list of bizarre death related facts. The list includes a process offered by LifeGem that can turn us in to synthetic diamonds. Perhaps I should send it to the Batley News.


Morley Observer http://www.morleyobserver.co.uk/

Batley News http://www.batleynews.co.uk/

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