Monday, 3 October 2011

21 gun salute

I've never given much thought to what I want to happen to my body, once my mortal coil has been shuffled off. They can bury me, burn me, or leave bits of me on a bus seat - I really couldn't care less, since I won't be around to worry about it.

Not everyone's quite as sanguine about bodily disposal. Some people spend thousands of pounds having their ashes encased in amber, presumably so that Dickie Attenborough can work his magic once the technology catches up. And if money's really no option, you could even pop down to your local Cryonics lab and have yourself flash-frozen like a Bernard Matthew's Chicken Kiev.

But if those options for an eternal resting place feel a little undramatic, there's another option being offered by a pair of conservation enforcement officers in Alabama. They've created a business called Holy Smoke LLC, which offers grieving relatives the chance to have their loved ones' ashes poured into shotgun shells. Just think about it - once you've bitten the dust, you can offer some majestic animal a similar early bath.

Clem Parnell, one of the entrepreneurs in question, is keen to stress that there's nothing unseemly about ramming someone's remains into a shotgun cartridge: "This isn't a joke. It's a job that we take very seriously. This is a reverent business. We take the utmost care in what we do and show the greatest respect for the remains." Right up until they're accidentally fired into one of Dick Cheney's hunting pals.

For just $850, you can have a pound of human ash loaded into 250 shells. Or if you prefer a little more precision, there's a hollow-point bullet option. When the founding fathers drafted the second amendment, I doubt they ever stopped to consider the fact that the right to bear arms might evolve into the right to be arms.

One fan of the process, a landscape gardener called Tim Godwin, defended Holy Smoke arguing "People have had their ashes sprinkled in rivers and the ocean, there have been ashes spread out of airplanes. If you love hunting or the outdoors, this really isn't much different." However, customers are advised to be careful when using these bullets for hunting, to prevent any of the human ash tainting the meat. Because that would be weird.

Aside from the inherent creepiness of the whole endeavour, there's another angle to this which no-one seems to have considered. Given that the US is the land of 'an eye for an eye', it can only be a matter of time before someone decides to exact a poetic kind of revenge with this unique kind of memorial. Personally, I can't wait to see the CSI team try to explain why a murder victim's DNA has turned up inside the body of the person who killed them. After 12 years and countless spin-offs, they must have almost run out of ridiculously contrived cases to solve. It's this or rape-by-dolphin. 

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