One of my favourite bloggers, Löst Jimmy, recently wrote a blog post about honouring the funeral arrangements of a friend. A friend, I hasten to add, who isn't about to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon (at least I hope not anyway) but it got me thinking about that subject which we must all think about at some point in our lives but which we would much rather not think about at all if we can get away with it.
Our own funeral. The wake. The 19th hole. Our great launch off into the unknown. The elevator door closes and you wait to see if you're going up or going down.
I am minded that when my grandfather died a couple of years ago my entire family kicked itself for not having paid closer attention to the various requests he had made over the years for what hymns he had wanted sung and what music he wanted played on the day we all saw him off for the last time. In the end we did him proud but the thought always stuck in my mind: was this really how he wanted it?
It's made me realize that, whilst I certainly don't want to tempt fate by booking Westminster Abbey and a hemp weave eco-coffin right now, I would like you all to be prepared and fully instructed in what I require when the nation mourns my eventual passing in approximately 250 years from now ('cos we just know that our industrious scientists are right on the cusp of cracking the aging gene conundrum, don't we?)...
So. To business.
Whilst I wish the nation to have the chance to play its last respects at Westminster Abbey and whilst I appreciate the 8 billion strong signatures on the petition to have my glorious body interred in Poet's Corner I would actually like my final resting place to be somewhat more spiritual, esoterical and ecologically sound than a great gold lined stone coffin housed in one of London's most famous landmarks.
It is my wish that a fully working Viking long boat be constructed by authentic craftsmen from the Netherlands and sailed across the North Sea to this green isle ready for the day of my funeral. I wish to be dressed in the garb of a Viking clan chief, complete with sword, dagger and horned helmet (please ensure the horns are of a suitably eye-watering length and girth) and then laid to rest on a specially built pyre of sweet smelling woods arranged on the deck of the boat.
I will then be launched down the River Avon as each of you fire flaming arrows into the specially primed and oiled pyre (please note: charcoal briquettes are available quite cheaply from B&Q all year round). You might all want to enlist for archery lessons now - I don't want my funeral to become a blood bath, after all, this is my big day, not yours.
I wish to have a posse of chief mourners comprised of Keeley Hawes, Katie McGrath, Julia Bradbury, Alice Roberts, Kate Bush and Christina Ricci. All are to be dressed in black cocktail party attire - short skirts, high heels and perfumed décolletages, please ladies. Any bloggers out there wishing to join this troupe may do so provided you are suitably attired. My wife will of course be the queen mourner and will conduct you all in a rendition of "You were the wind beneath our wings..." provided, of course, she hasn't cashed in my Life Assurance Policy early and isn't holidaying at Brean Sands with the milkman.
Once my flaming bower is well aflame and has become a danger to shipping in the Bristol Channel you may ignite a smaller pyre beneath the freshly spitted hog killed for this especial purpose and you may all enjoy partaking of a suitably hot and spicy spit roast in honour of my good self. You may quaff wines that foam, substances which tittilate and read aloud from the many good works that I will undoubtedly have published by this time. The choicest extracts from my autobiography, "You Shall Not See My Like Again, Weep, Weep, Weep Ye May..." will be read by my sons whilst the pivotal moments of my life with be re-enacted by a Punch & Judy man recruited from Brighton Pier.
Long after my ashes have mingled with the mud flats at Weston-super-Mare you may then erect a permanent statue of me on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. Built entirely of Lego it will tower over the occupants of the other three plinths and act as a staunch reminder of my humble and modest greatness and will I hope offer you some small comfort in the pointless and dreary existence that life will undoubtedly have become now that I am no longer in this world with you.
Have you all got that? Good. Feel free to bring some food to the party but none of that cheap crap from Lidl please. Donations to the Stephen Blake Benevolent Fund For Unrecognized Writers will be gratefully received and spent wisely (unlike the dubiously apportioned funds from WikiLeaks).
Until this great day then, folks... make the most of me. Just in case, you know, the scientists balls it all up...