A young man has just been to the door. He had a battered sports bag filled with dish-cloths and tea-towels, a selection of which he expected me to buy. When I declined his offer his mood deteriorated rapidly (it's a hot day in Middle England) and he threw his wares back into the bag and stamped off down the path. As he reached the gate he turned back and called, 'Effing coffin-dodger!'
I would have been interested to take him up on a few points. Effing and dodging coffins, for instance. Surely an oxymoron?
Dodging coffins? How? Are they being thrown about? Dodging them implies a level of physical activity and agility which I could actually see as being quite complimentary.
Does having white hair and declining to buy an over-priced dish-cloth imply that you should be in a coffin?
I would have liked to explain a few points and find out how he justifies this sort of approach to potential customers.
Avoiding a coffin? Yes. I already have this one organised, I hope. I wrote about it here some years ago, and the forms have been registered. But it is necessary to die neatly and and the right sort of time for this one. Not during weekends and Bank Holidays, for example, when the relevant University office is closed, and not with too many bits missing.
In the time it took me to get back into the garden my thought processes had cantered on, and I was thinking about people taken totally by surprise when they thought themselves invincible, and when there was no insurance either. A number of Burmese Kings in the 15th and 16th centuries, for instance. I've been reading about them.
King Tabinshwheti had heard about a most auspicious white elephant and went off on a three month campaign with some of his staff to find it. On his 34th birthday he was decapitated by some of the staff in the general confusion about the elephant, although there were a great many other political issues going on at the same time. The elephant remained elusive. Can this be the origin of a White Elephant stall at the jumble sale?
King Razadarit went out to lasso an elephant, but lassoed himself instead and died, strangled by his badly thrown rope.
Crown Prince Minrekyawswa died when his own War Elephant was wounded and rolled over, crushing the Prince in his howda, while King Uzana was trampled to death by an enraged elephant.
Who would have thought it? All those active, rich, powerful young people being mashed by elephants, or while looking for elephants.
No matter how well-protected and agile you are you can't avoid the ultimate end.
But I think you can dodge a coffin.
The young man was right.