In a Morbid Vein: About Undertakers

In a Morbid Vein: About Undertakers

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain.
–John Keats

Like John Keats, I’ve been thinking about ceasing and expiring a lot these days. After some twenty-five years spent successively at school, college and university, I ceased to be a proper student. It’s not that I’ve become improper. But I handed in my dissertation and am waiting for the board of aldermen to pretend they’ve read it and put me on trial for it. It’s called the dissertation defence. I have also ceased to be a usable workforce at my department. Since I no more figure as a regular student, they would have to pay taxes for my work. That clearly wouldn’t pay off. Now that I’m irregular, I’m paying my taxes myself. That doesn’t pay off either.

Also, as to expiring, the milk in the fridge expired. It brought about a deeply metaphysical experience when I went out with the milk carton to put it in the bin. Otherwise I’m not going out, in the sense of being romantically involved, with a carton. Unless… Forget it. Hand in hand with the milk carton, I went past a somewhat randomly parked black van in the street. Who would paint a van black, I was thinking, it looks like a hearse! Then I noticed the golden lettering on the driver’s door. In this case, mission accomplished, it was an actual hearse that looked like hearse.

Though I’m dead inside, I’m not comfortable around death. Still, I take perverse delight in morbidity, so I examined the van carefully. I suspected it could be undercover cops or a disguised armoury on wheels. I think I watch too much TV. The back door of the hearse was gaping open to confirm that it was, indeed, a hearse. Two narrow metal trays were protruding from the back of it. The dead must be extremely uncomfortable lying in there.

Talking about the dead reminds me of my dad. He’s not dead, but dad sounds like dead. I also used to believe that my father was an undertaker. That’s what happens in beginners English classes at school when one translates the phrase private businessman from my language into English literally. I’m about to become this kind of undertaker myself. I wish I had paid more attention when my father taught me about tunnelling. Not the tunnel digging kind but the fraud kind. While it is somewhat illegitimate, it was a legitimate part of the post-communist culture when I was a kid. I naturally deny any knowledge of such activities.

Another part of my childhood was the advent of commercial TV and of music videos. In keeping with the cheerful note of this post, let’s watch one of the most popular music clips in my country when I was growing up. It might explain a thing or two. It’s called ‘The Undertaker’ and bemoans the arrival of cremation, which takes away jobs from honest grave diggers. It features the characters of an undertaker as undertaker and an undertaker as a private businessman. Here you go.

26 thoughts on “In a Morbid Vein: About Undertakers

  1. A song about the employment impact of cremation! My day has been made. I’m the type of person who accepts that death is the natural conclusion to life – at least I hope my conclusion is natural. What I do have to do is ensure all my affairs are in order and legally tickety boo now I’m in a different country with a different legal system. Finding the time for us to draw up a Will, however, might take us until our life’s conclusion.

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    1. I’m well pleased that you enjoyed the song’s serious message (ha 😉 ) and that you share my sense of black humour. I agree with and share your attitude too – not too thrilled about death but there’s not much to do about it.

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  2. Although the music seems cheery for someone who can’t understand the lyrics, the video has given me the absolute creeps! Shudder. Love hearing stories of your country. Hopefully something suitable will manifest for you to work on as new soon. Mr GD is also at same stage as you with PHD – defence in a couple of weeks. It will be good to jump that final hurdle I’m sure. More anecdotes please – no excuses now!!

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    1. Oh dear, I’m sorry the song had such a terrible impact on you! It’s what we Czechs do on the regular, we poke fun of the most tragic things. I assure you though that the song is intended entirely as humorous, despite the somewhat gory props. So don’t think about it anymore and I’ll try to cheer up too! Good luck to Mr GD, it’s great his defence is in a few weeks. Mine will probably not be until several months. It’s extremely slow here. But I should have more time for writing now! I’ll try to think of something not morbid to write about for a change 😉

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  3. Divine post! And marvelous quote! One of my favourites!

    I must say, I would have been absolutely delighted to have tripped over an un-guarded hearse loitering about somberly in a void parking-lot, just begging for my attentions. I would have probably been arrested after having been eventually discovered all tangled up in the back of it, having attempted to conceal myself, hoping to joy-ride around with the dead for a few hours…People are always so avid about stamping out such innocuous fun…

    I was reminded of a film as I read this marvelously bleak post, “Harold and Maude”. Have you seen this one? Picnics in scrap yards, myriads of attempted suicides, and the conversion of a sports car (I think it was a classic Jag) into a hearse??? Just my kind of film.

    I trust you will be presented with something grand to engage your active, razor-sharp mind soon. I do not envy the prospect of the blood-battle of defending your dissertation, but I trust you will do so valiantly and competently. Hmm…perhaps I do envy you in a way. I would love to create something to defend…I am sadly too vacuous for that, however. 😉

    Anyhow, I commend you for your great achievement! Very inspiring to me.

    FASCINATING song. Now that is just my kind of thing!! I think I would delight in your country. My sense of perhaps rather dingy humour slumps forward and lands with a thud over here. Most seem to hover beneath a bright, bloated veneer of some awful Disney-like existence- and oh the FURY if that ridiculous smiley-veneer is poked or punctured by a little red-eyed, scythe-wielding innocent like me. 😉

    I frightened a child the other day. At least I have a few happy moments now and then.

    I really need to visit your land.

    All the best,

    Autumn Jade

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    1. Thank you for making my day! I laughed at your remarking about frightening a child so hard that I choked. Nearly to death, which would mean a delightful first-hand encounter with undertakers.

      You might be interested in one of my 365 photos, this one: http://maraeastern.com/2015/09/30/153365/, which depics a row of urns with the ashes of the deceased to be scattered. I had the dubious pleasure of attending the ceremony.

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    1. I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only one obsessed with death. After all, it’s an inevitable fact of life… My dissertation has been handed in recently and now i’m waiting impatiently for the date of the dissertation defence to be set! I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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  4. OMG… that videoclip is hi.la.ri.ous…!!! Funny enough what shocks me the most is that in the beginning they keep cutting in the same scenes over and over, forwards and backwards… Did they not take enough other shots to vary, I wonder? But sorry, I’m off track…^^

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    1. The videoclip was a major event of my childhood 😉 Although I noticed too that it’s ridiculously repeating the same scenes over and over. Well, it’s probably because it was the beginning of videoclips in my country and people didn’t know what they were doing.

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      1. Haha, might be 😀 And yes, childhood memories and clips / stories involved with them will always reach a cult status… That’s one amazing fact you can witness all over the world 🙂 It’s funny how you can grow up with the most stupid stuff and will always cherish it – because it belongs to your childhood 😀

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