Having the last laugh

In this world nothing can be said to be said to be certain, except death and taxes’, wrote Benjamin Franklin, reflecting on whether his new Constitution would achieve permanence. In a society which provides public services and redistributes wealth among its citizens, taxes remain an unwelcome certainty. Death, perhaps less so. Successful experiments in CRISPR genome editing this week hold out hope that genetic diseases could soon be a thing of the past. As we live longer, the rate of trips to the grave becomes less frequent but with a growing global population, we’re still running out of space near our major cities to put people in the ground. Thankfully many innovations in this space provide alternatives to conventional burial or cremation. Cryonics is one such option – over 1,500 people worldwide have signed up to be frozen on their death (…zero thawed out so far). A recent trend is being ‘planted’ with a seed and essentially turning into a tree. Other options include: aquamation (being dissolved), plastination (being turned into plastic) and promession (being turned into manure). My personal preference would be either a space burial (no explanation needed) or vinyl compression (being turned into an actual playable record). Not tempted? For those opting for a more traditional route there’s still room to have the last laugh. Earlier this month, unbeknown to mourners at his funeral, Shay Bradley from Kilkenny was buried together with a pre-recorded message. As the coffin descended, the congregation heard a noise from the box, ‘Hello? It’s Shay. Let me out, it’s f***ing dark in here’. Not quite as poetic as Franklin, but memorable nonetheless.