Monday, August 23, 2010

Another view on Teen Undertaker

If you come to work in this industry, you'll either have left by lunchtime or you'll stay for the next 20 years. I started when I was nine, helping my dad move bodies, and launched my own business at 17. As a schoolkid, I used to cremate all the pets in the class: we had funerals for hamsters and goldfish.

Teen Undertaker, which was on Channel 4 on Friday, followed two youngsters, Laura and Paul, as they worked with dead bodies. The average funeral director isn't stern and doom-laden, but still we had Laura's mother saying she was too pretty and blonde to be a funeral director. Our youngest employee started at 24 and got the same comments.

I strongly related to Paul preparing his deceased uncle's body. When my mum died, I rushed to get there, but missed her dying. Consequently, I wanted to take her down to the mortuary, dress her and take over everything. Our embalmer actually embalmed his own mum, as well as Princess Diana. For him, it was the final act of respect and care.

We once had a guy whose family had put betting slips, lottery tickets and cigarettes in his coffin. They even put his mobile in there and someone rang it during the mass. It was hilarious. Another group stood around their friend's coffin drinking brandy and chucked a glass in for him.

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