Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Coffin-Dodging or Death by Elephant?




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!'
Who? Me?

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.
Bless him!

11 comments:

Zhoen said...

Oh, let's have a rousing game of Dodge-Coffin!

Or would we all prefer just a little more rousing effing? (me! me!)

Tsk, tsk, why were you not just a little old confused, gullible or otherwise soft-headed grannykins? Fer shames.



Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: because I'm a large, old, sharp-witted grannykins with a stash of dish-cloths under the sink.
I'm sure there's a board game to be made about coffin dodging.

Zhoen said...

RR,
Good on ya!

Elephant's Child said...

I am smiling so widely at this post that my face hurts.
Hooray for elephants and their long memories and it seems largely hidden powers.
Hooray for not falling into surly salesperson's clutches.
And hooray for coffin dodging. I love your solution and hope to have a coffin-less end myself. An eco funeral is my prefered option. I want to feed a tree which will shelter birds and observe the seasons. Quietly.

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C. glad this gave you a smile. I am happy to read about the elephants who clearly did not forget and who turned the tables effectively. I hope the elusive white elephant is the ghost of all elephants past and will some day redress the balance of power against the poachers and ivory hunters.
Would you fit into a gro-bag? This could be a neat, cheap disposal plan and could be useful for growing tomatoes? Waste not, want not.

Joy said...

Oh, you are wonderful! Such wit! If this had happened to me, I would have liked to lasso this chap, tightly bundle him and give him a good talking to. What an idiot!

Elephant's Child said...

It would have to be a big gro-bag - but I don't need to stay in one piece. Thinking, thinking, thinking. And yes to the white elephant. An emphatic yes.

Julia said...

I was also treated to a rude response and the 'F' word when I told my own door-stepper that 'Thank you but I do not buy at the door'. I was left angry but grinning at him as he knocked on the next door, ready to repeat what he'd just said to me when he was confronted by the 6'3 neighbour.

I've bought rubbish at the door before, over-priced dusters, wipes that left my car windscreen smeared and distracting for weeks, once several truly crap pictures, because the vendors managed to sell me a sob story.

This time, when he sneered and yelled 'Fucking old cow' I just smiled and said 'Maybe, but I'm smarter now I'm older, do have a lovely day dear'
But I wish he'd told me I am a coffin-dodger because right now I would take that as a very positive thing :)

Coffin dodger!

Relatively Retiring said...

Joy: thank you for commenting, but be careful. The low-life on the doorstep might enjoy it!

E.C: I've been thinking about white elephants too.

Julia: I hope your salesman got a warm reception from your neighbour. The use of the F word in so many of these contexts is really interesting - linguistically!
I take 'coffin dodger' as a positive and complimentary term.

Frances said...

A sad consequence of the ubiquity of the f word is the disappearance of some quite wonderful expletives. There was a useful gradation in them, as well.
Gratuitous hostility always delivers a bit of a shock, though. Nasty.
I read that Barbara Cartland was buried in cardboard underneath a tree on her property. I resent that privilege.

Frances said...

I think I meant envy. Well, both.