It is not often I get a notification to say I have a new follower. This is no surprise as I never Tweet. Well, once in a blue moon.
But the email that dropped into my box giving me the glad tidings that I had increased by 20 per cent those people waiting to read my every word, left me both pleased and uneasy. Because it was an organisation called Dying Matters.
Still, beggars can't be choosers, not if I want to rival the great and good of British Twitterdom, such as Stephen Fry, who has 4,598,156 followers (or thereabout), including me. Well, he is the funniest man in Britain.
And yet even he is way down the list of world popularity.
Chief Twit (if that is the correct term) is Lady Gaga who has 27,669,594 people around the globe gasping on her every thought and action. Which is terrifying when you think of it's marketing potential.
“Went to the shop. Bought a Mars Bar.”
And the shelves would be empty of the snack in an hour.
Being followed by Death is quite appropriate as my latest book is called REAPER and is about a chap in post-apocalyptic Britain who goes around dealing out death. What do you mean you haven't read it? Buy a copy immediately - it's available in paperback or ebook.
I actually know why Dying Matters has joined my small but happy throng and it's nothing to do with the book. It's because I wrote a piece about undertakers in my column in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. I said they not only did a crucial job with great professionalism, but they also had a sense of humour.
Dying Matters is, and I quote: “A growing coalition that aims to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards death, dying and bereavement.” They obviously also have a sense of humour.
Bereavement professionals will, in fact, be handing out their own Oscars at the first ever Good Funeral Guide Awards in Bournemouth in September. Categories include Embalmer of the Year, Gravedigger of the Year and Best Alternative To A Hearse.
Charles Cowling, editor of the Good Funeral Guide, said the awards were for “unsung heroes of astonishing brilliance whom the public deserves to know about.”
The ceremony will be part of the Joy of Death Festival held in the seaside town, which could make an unusual weekend away with which to surprise the wife. Bournemouth, of course, is a also a retirement centre but, as yet, no one has reported what its elderly citizens think of the event.
"Shall we go to Benidorm this year? Or go choose a casket?"
There have, of course, been many famous gravediggers who went on to other careers – Rod Stewart, Joe Strummer from The Clash and Dave Vanian from The Damned.
I wonder if they could persuade Mr Stewart to present one of the awards?
Funeral directors I have known have generally been a warm and generous group with a pleasant sense of humour.
They tell tales to which I can testify. When my Uncle Frank died while on holiday his daughter viewed the body and commented: “Ooh, doesn’t he look well. He always did suit a tan.”
They acknowledge, of course, that things can go wrong on occasions. Like the stonemason who was engaged by a grieving widower in Bolton, Lancashire, to carve appropriate words upon the gravestone of his wife.
Alice was 94 when she died and had attended church every Sunday. Husband Joe instructed that the headstone should bear the message: “Lord, she was thine.”
But the stonemason made a mistake and wrote: “Lord, she was thin.”
Joe said: “You’ve missed off the e. You’ll have to do it again,” and the shamefaced stonemason set about his task.
Weeks later, Joe went to see the stone on the grave. It now read: “Ee Lord, she was thin.”
Read More http://www.examiner.co.uk/views-and-blogs/columnists/denis-kilcommons
Dying Matters can be found at ://www.dyingmatters.org.