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A Life in Death: Memoirs of a Cotswold Funeral Director

av James Baker

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412,679,627 (4)Ingen/inga
James Baker has spent his entire working life as a funeral director in and around the town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, the area of the Cotswolds immortalised in the book 'Cider With Rosie' by Laurie Lee. Having spent 25 years in the funeral profession so far, James will take you into the hidden world of death and funerals, telling the story of his journey from wide-eyed teenager on work experience to becoming one of the longest serving funeral directors in his locality. He will also illustrate how the funeral profession, so long defined by custom and tradition, has reinvented itself in the face of the most radical changes in the British way of death since the Second World War. If you're fascinated to know what funeral directors actually do; if you want to understand more about what happens after a death and how funerals are arranged; or if you're simply looking for an entertaining account of a unique working life, then this book was written for you. Over-sentimentality and lurid accounts of tragic episodes have been firmly avoided. Instead, writing as an experienced funeral director, James offers a sensitive but very honest and comprehensive account of what his working life is really like. This book was written not just to entertain, but also to enlighten and hopefully to reassure.… (mer)

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When my grandad died at home last year, we called the local funeral director, a woman, who came with her husband in a long black car to take away the body (after a long wait for a doctor to come and certify him dead). I didn't watch the whole process, but I know that she was kind, swift and professional in going through an act that was new to most of the gathered family members, having only witnessed death in hospitals or other official surroundings. I won't claim that this watershed moment in my life is the reason I wanted to read James Baker's account of his chosen 'vocation' of undertaking, because I have also read books by Barry Albin-Dyer and Jessica Mitford on the processes and traditions of death, but I did read this one with a new perspective.

James Baker, who decided in school that he wanted to become an undertaker/funeral director, has written an informative, sensitive and yes, entertaining introduction for the generally uninitiated to his profession. I didn't know, for instance, that local funeral directors are also called upon by the police to collect the bodies of accident/murder/suicide victims, including in James' case the aftermath of death by train and a body found in the river. He describes a few cases like this, but in minimum detail for maximum effect. He also describes less gruesome but similarly tragic deaths, including a young mum and her child killed in a car accident and terminally ill 'clients' keen to be involved in their own send-off.

I was really impressed by James' experience, discretion and obvious compassion, not to mention his natural narration. The key detail I learned on the subject is that the first requirement of funeral directors is not a strong stomach, but a caring approach, to both the living and the dead. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Dec 31, 2015 |
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James Baker has spent his entire working life as a funeral director in and around the town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, the area of the Cotswolds immortalised in the book 'Cider With Rosie' by Laurie Lee. Having spent 25 years in the funeral profession so far, James will take you into the hidden world of death and funerals, telling the story of his journey from wide-eyed teenager on work experience to becoming one of the longest serving funeral directors in his locality. He will also illustrate how the funeral profession, so long defined by custom and tradition, has reinvented itself in the face of the most radical changes in the British way of death since the Second World War. If you're fascinated to know what funeral directors actually do; if you want to understand more about what happens after a death and how funerals are arranged; or if you're simply looking for an entertaining account of a unique working life, then this book was written for you. Over-sentimentality and lurid accounts of tragic episodes have been firmly avoided. Instead, writing as an experienced funeral director, James offers a sensitive but very honest and comprehensive account of what his working life is really like. This book was written not just to entertain, but also to enlighten and hopefully to reassure.

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