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Dying To Stand Up

Here in England, there will soon be grim legislation in Parliament. We are about to change the law to allow something that's always been taboo. A matter not of life, but of death.

We intend to legalize the lifting and deepening of the graves into which our ancestors were once laid to rest. This has become urgent necessity. Horizontal burials take up too much land.

So the plan is to dig up anyone who's been down there more than a hundred years, put what's left into a tiny container – because the experts insist there won't be very much left – then sink a much deeper hole and start burying alongside – this time vertically. It may sound uncomfortable but I am reliably assured that as long as you meet the normal criteria for a corpse you won't notice the difference.

And Britain is now leading the way in this morbid quest for extra burial space. We even have a Government Minister directly responsible for cemeteries. This is slightly odd considering that 70 percent of us choose a fiery exit.

But cremation has also become a burning issue. I have referred to it before in this slot. We are literally outgrowing the equipment. In the northern county of Lancashire just a week or so back, they turned away a grieving family who wanted to see their Mum go up in smoke. She weighed 320 pounds and simply wouldn't fit in the cremator.

Luckily her relatives had opted for embalming. So the good lady was able to wait for several days before being shipped cross-country to a super-sized furnace. Where would she have been without formaldehyde?

The answer to that question, however, provides still more headaches. Because there are now moves to ban all chemical embalming fluids throughout Europe. This would put a stop to the Irish custom of wakes in which the embalmed body of the dear departed is kept at home for several days so family and friends can make prolonged goodbyes.

What's the solution? Most places in these islands have already outlawed burial at sea. British cremators are far too small, and graves are about to be turned upside down to make space. Our capital city is overcrowded enough for the living. So whatever you do when you come to London this year, please don't die.
by Ed Boyle

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