Back in those days the grim reaper was rushed off his feet, stalking homes up and down the land to carry off people of all ages thanks to afflictions such as typhoid, tuberculosis, smallpox, diphtheria and cholera.
Indeed, so afraid were some Victorians that they might be pronounced dead and interred without having properly expired, that some of them had bell pulls fitted in their coffins. They did this so that should they wake up having been buried with indecent haste, they could pull on a cord and summon help to dig them out of the ground before they suffocated.
Happily those days are long gone and today’s talk is of euthanasia to help ease the plight of the terminally ill. This is the medical profession’s unofficial way of making sure you’re fully expired and no longer living before being committed to the ground. Because of this, today's coffins are no longer fitted with bell pulls or whatever the modern equivalent might be: such as a mobile phone or a BlackBerry for Twittering one’s resurrection to all and sundry.
So what brings me to this rather macabre subject? Well it’s the news that the NHS now has its own version of euthanasia to make sure you’re completely expired. This procedure is innocuously called the Liverpool Care Pathway Plan. If you ever find yourself in a hospital and the doctors and nurses start whispering and asking the student nurse to fetch the care pathway manual, you can safely assume you’re about to be decommissioned. Usually you’ll be unconscious and in no state to argue the toss.
If you are ‘Liverpooled’ you can expect to have your food supply withdrawn and your antibiotics stopped as you’re allowed to gently slip away. However, the alarming fact about this unofficial form of euthanasia is that some 3% of patients who experience the Merseyside Murder are ungrateful and thoughtless enough to survive and go on to make a full recovery, in some cases going on to enjoy years of extra life.
This all sounds a bit chilling to me. I think we may have to start kitting out coffins with some sort of hi-tech bell pull as the Liverpool Care Pathway Plan gains in popularity at a time when the cash-strapped NHS is sorely in need of more beds.
So whatever you do, may I suggest you contact your solicitor and have your will amended to include a clause insisting you’re buried with a fully charged mobile phone on a decent network and loaded with plenty of credit?
Unfortunately, if you’ve opted for cremation all I can suggest is that you get a quote for a sprinkler system or carry a pocket fire extinguisher with you.