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Exit strategies: Funeral people's departure plans

David Holmes runs  Holmes and Family Funeral Directors. He has just featured in BBC2 series The Fixer, gleaning business advice from guru Alex Polizzi.

“My funeral choices very much depend on what day you ask me. I can’t even decide definitively on burial or cremation. Some days I want to be buried; on others I think ‘Oh what’s the point, just cremate me’.

It’s the same with the type of service, I’d probably describe myself as a ‘doubtful agnostic’ but at other times I feel Catholic and yet there are lots of aspects of other beliefs that I sympathise with.

I quite like the idea of doing something different – perhaps a tour of several places of worship (I particularly love the London Mosque) to get a bit of everything.  We have good relationships with so many ministers and I respect them; it would be a shame to leave anyone out. I really don’t like the idea of just having the service in the crematorium chapel – that would be a bit disappointing.

I do know that I’d like to be buried in my shorts and a casual shirt though – maybe even a Hawaiian shirt. I’ve spent most of my life having to dress formally so it would be nice to emphasise the contrast between the pressure of work and the relaxation of holidays. I might even opt for a spray tan. Another thing I know I’d like is a Rolls-Royce hearse, a black one, to add a touch of class.

I don’t have strong feelings about the type of coffin but, with four sons, I have the bearers sorted. I’m a great believer in families being involved in funerals and I’m surprised that more people don’t want to – I always offer clients the opportunity.
I’d like someone to do a decent eulogy – but I do want honesty. It would be great if they could say I was a great bloke but they’d need to mention my flaws too, otherwise it wouldn’t be real.

I have spent time thinking about music choices and there are some pieces I’d definitely want. My mother gave birth to me at home and the first piece of music she heard immediately after I arrived was the Coronation Street theme. As that was there at my entrance to the world it seems appropriate to have it at my exit.
I’d also like Ethel Merman singing Everything’s Coming Up Roses and a piece by Jackson Brown called The Load Out.

This is nine minutes long but it’s worth it. It starts off with a musician describing life as a series of gigs that he doesn’t want to leave and it segues into Stay, which is about wanting to hold onto life. I don’t think there’d be a dry eye in the house.
After the ceremony – however it turns out – I can only say that I’d want a big party. I really wouldn’t want a sad occasion and hopefully it would be one where people would remember me as I really am.

This may all sound a bit vague on the details but the reason I’ve not made it meticulous arrangements is that I believe that what’s important is that the ceremony has meaning to whoever’s left and whoever’s arranging it. It doesn’t really matter to me, as I’ll be gone."

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