Grave Cemetery Plot uncovered Grave Cemetery Plot uncovered

By correspondent in the crypt,
Miranda Givings
The incumbent of St. Hilda's — a small church in Chelsea, London—has stirred up a storm of protest over his allegations that the increase in cremation is nothing more than a cynical smokescreen to cover up a grave shortage of cemetery plots in the UK

The Right Rev. Percy Shufflebotham told us that the problem was so acute that his parishioners were having to wait up to three years just to get on to the burial waiting list at St. Hilda's. "This is a national scandal!" protested the pugnacious parson. "Do people have to die before they can be buried? If the good Lord had intended us to burn our dead why did he make us out of 70% water?"

We asked the Reverend Shufflebotham to explain.
"The Church cannot bury the critical shortage of cemetery plots by digging up anachronistic aphorisms from the Book of Common Prayer," he told us. "I am no longer prepared to keep silent about the vile practises of 'double parking' and 'stiff swopping' that have made my life a living hell. The Church's new 'ashes to ashes' campaign is the last straw."
"Double parking?" we asked.
"The Church describe it as 'stratified sepulture," explained the embattled ecclesiastic, "but whatever you call it, packing three stiffs into the same plot is dead wrong."
"And 'stiff swopping?"
"Digging up the deceased the moment the grieving relatives have departed and unceremoniously dumping the corpse in some industrial landfill, or using it to stiffen the foundations of a motorway flyover in Chiswick. I won't be a party to these grave deceptions any longer."

Monumental conspiracy

"These practices have been going on for years," continued the controversial cleric, "But no one will dare talk about it. Undertakers are making a fortune from burying up to five people in the same plot only to dump them after a few hours, or months, to make room for more. Make no bones about it," he added, "I shall not rest until I have disinterred this evil plot."

A spokesperson for the British Association of Funeral Directors, Mr Sexton Hurse, was tight-lipped when we interviewed him at his offices in Cypress Grove, Hackney. "The Reverend Percy Shufflebotham is a casket-case with an over-active imagination," explained the smooth-talking inhumationist. "Last year he claimed that two Nuneaton Nuns were topping up the poor box by displaying the charms of their novices on the Internet via a live webcam installed in their dormitory."
"Then you deny there is a grave cemetery crisis in this country?" we asked.
"Then the £200 subsidy you get from the Government for every body you don't bury has nothing to do with the dramatic rise in cremations?"
"No comment," retorted Mr Hurse.
"What about the Church's new policy of 'double parking?"
"Never heard of it."
"Stiff swopping?"

"Look!" snapped the surly mortician, "People are just more environmentally conscious now. Land is too valuable a resource to waste on the dead. The Church is simply responding to the Government’s new policy on environmentally sound sepulture."
"New policy?" we asked.
"Er — I didn't say that. You didn't hear that from me. Sorry, I've got an urgent dentist's appointment, must dash."

We asked the Department of Health about the new policy the red-faced funeral director had been so reluctant to discuss.
"It is our policy not to discuss Government policy in relation to the department's policies on the policy of interment and the disposal of the deceased," commented an unidentified spokestypeperson. No help there, then.

Dead shocking

A conspiracy of silence or a silent conspiracy? We sent our reporter to turn over the unsavoury underbelly of the British undertaking business.
Partly shaded by a six-lane motorway, Cedar Glades Memorial Garden is typical of the dozens of British cemeteries he visited. Beneath the graveyard's verdant lawns, hundreds of bodies are double or even triple parked, or buried in the wrong graves.

"I feel like nobody cares," said Jessica, a winsome waitress from Wapping who admits to being constantly depressed and preoccupied with death. "They double-parked Mark with that slut Monica from McDonalds. I mean how would you like it if your husband had to spend eternity between the thighs of a woman with silicone implants who never waxed?"

Her friend, Michelle Catafalque, never found her husband. She says her search for him is destroying her second marriage. She can't sleep and has stopped having sex with her next door neighbour. In many ways Michelle and Jessica are similar: they are both women. Although they have new partners they refuse to let go of the one who died. They text each other, go for long walks, wash nappies together and complain about scratchy underwear. Although both mourning mums have received over £700,000 in damages from the owners of the cemetery, they insist that the luxury home and motor yacht they own in Marbella was a gift from an anonymous well-wisher.

There you have it. The crazed conspiracy theory of an eccentric English Vicar or the callous policy of an uncaring Government who will stop at nothing to rob its citizens — even after death.

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© 2004 utterpants.co.uk /R110405

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