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Planning My Zero Budget Funeral: Because Shit Got Real

Ice cream is to be handed out to passersby.

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During lockdown I've taken a break from planning the annual Cheap Thrills Zero Budget Film Festival by running a weekly podcast, The (Stuck at) Home Service, although if this article has any real validity, it will have ceased. Please check.

As a long-term asthmatic with Parkinson's and about a third of my lung capacity left, coronavirus is salivating over me, so l'm in hiding. Inevitably my thoughts turn to my death, and the wonderful excuse this will provide to stage one final event, my funeral.

The corpse is a huge complication for a funeral, so we're better off without it. Cart it off in a white van, put it in a mass grave or batch cremate it. Bollocks to the undertaker. Like my choice in cars, I've been all over the place in this body and I have a lingering affection for it, but it's been persistently prone to breaking down. Basically, it's a wrong 'un and I won't be too upset to see the back of it. And without me rotting in the front room, you can afford to take your time arranging things.

Next, the coffin. I would like to commission the local kings of lantern-making, Patrick Amber and Gary Manton, to make me one. The task will be made considerably easier because I won't be in it. At the moment I imagine something like an Egyptian sarcophagus made out of ripped up comics and willow. It will be lit from within and comically huge. It will be carried, so handles would be good.

I would like the service to be conducted at the home of so many community events, Christchurch in Pitsmoor. I remain unswerving in my atheism, but God will be allowed a couple of mentions, because it's his house, he let me use it as a venue a few times, and I never really said thanks.

The coffin is to be paraded over as circuitous a route as people can put up with. Traffic is to be delayed, so bringing up the rear of the procession will be an ice cream van, playing a compilation of Leonard Cohen's last three albums. Ice cream is to be handed out to passers-by and paraders to thank them for their efforts and to apologise for the inconvenience.

'Blue Skies' by Irving Berlin is to be played as I enter the church. There are many versions of this, so a suitably solemn rendition should be chosen for my entrance. As I exit the same song will be played, this time as upbeat a version as can be found. Data from Star Trek did a nice one.

I would like local hero, the dancing curate Huw Thomas, to conduct the service, which will take the form of an open mic evening. I reckon the moral blackmail of my death, and playing to a full house, should get me some good performers. Between 60 and 90 minutes, with a break for cake. I expect I'll put in an appearance on video. I promise to leave you alone after that.

The wake is to be held at the Pitsmoor scout hut. Curry, naan and rice are to be served and board games should be laid out. A small stage and microphones will also be available should anybody feel the urge. When it gets dark, my coffin is to be ceremonially burned, along with my unused medication. Then go and drink, be merry and be melancholy, and make up stories about me, so I can pass into legend.

How did I do? Venues: blagged. Coffin: they won't charge. Performers and Huw: moral blackmail costs nothing. Cake and curry: the community will provide. Booze: no avoiding that cost. Ice cream van: no idea what that will cost, but I bet you it's less than a hearse. All in all, not too shabby - a few hundred pounds tops. A collection should take care of it.

All other details I'll leave to you, except for one - if there hasn't been a film festival in the year of my death, then put one on. Thank you and God bless.

There you go - I bet you can't wait for me to die now!


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