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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison


Winner of the April/May 2007 humour writing contest on the Humor and Life, in Particular Website

You may have read of the horrific experiences of those pronounced dead in hospital only to recover consciousness in the hospital mortuary.

Hospitals have since worked hard to improve staff discipline such that patients are not declared dead simply because they have annoyed nursing staff or because their consultants have wished to leave early for the day. Nevertheless, public confidence has been shaken, and demand has arisen for fail-safe systems to avoid the risk of being buried or cremated alive.

My company, Casketech, has reacted to this by manufacturing hi-tech coffins with an eye to this NQDY (Not Quite Dead Yet) market.

The personal inconvenience of live burial was recognised in the Victorian era, and mechanical signalling apparatus was devised to allow coffin occupants to communicate with those six feet above. In this modern age, the preference has been for more sophisticated technology.

Our Cadaver Communicator range has become very popular, featuring, as it does, telephone, fax and broadband Internet connection. Top of the range models are also equipped with satellite television and a computer games console to pass the time whilst awaiting disinterment.

Taking such technology to the grave has also prompted developments in Spiritualist Churches, which now routinely hold e-seances. This is despite some cases of unfortunate and tragic confusion between communication from beyond the grave and communication from within it.

Those not reassured by our products alone can engage a ‘personal burial consultant’. Such advisors are interred with the suspected deceased and observe them until a confirmatory level of decomposition had occurred. Coffins to allow such a precaution need, of course, to be equipped with air, water and food supplies, together with cooking, bathroom and sleeping facilities. Some of our deluxe models are now being resold as low cost housing despite the alarm initially caused by people emerging from the ground in cemeteries. Fundamentalist Christians were particularly disappointed when it was clarified that this behaviour did not herald Judgement Day.

Coffins for cremations have posed particular design problems. Cremations do not allow the luxury of time for communication and rescue afforded by conventional burial, and so the emphasis must be on rapid escape.

One of the earlier designs from our Get Up And Go range incorporated technology derived from the ejection seat of the F-111 fighter-bomber. The provisionally departed being, of course, fully equipped with protective clothing and a crash helmet.

In the case of a real revival, the congregation and church authorities might well consider any collateral damage to be a small price to pay for a family to be reunited with a loved one. Some faulty release mechanisms, however, led to several individuals, who had genuinely passed over, dramatically leaving their memorial services.

The televised flight of a much-respected dignitary from his coffin in the aisle of Westminster Abbey, through the North Rose Window, over the Houses of Parliament and into the Thames was one such example. Fortunately, the sudden inspiration of the Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct the proceedings as a burial at sea was a masterstroke of improvisation that saved the day.

Finally, remember our billboard advert which is totally black except for a speech bubble which reads ‘I wish I’d gone to Casketech!!’. Come and see us before it’s too late.