How have we got to the stage in our sanitised society
where we can’t bring ourselves to believe anyone is going to die?
Elizabeth Tucker, 2014
At the beginning of the 21st Century, we all got obsessed with coffee addicted to that paper cup filled with over-priced caffeine, but comforting on a chilly morning with the drudge to work, in need of stimulation an artificial kick to the carbon clock, in our sleep deprived, plugged in, overdrive nation.
Latte, cappuccino, Americano, flat white, frapuccino, baby chino, espresso.
All else was sliding, debt spiralling whilst tycoons were snapping up property, there was always a company ready to withdraw the net from some poor sod who would be labelled a shirker, malingerer, from over a computer keyboard.
Some died: suicide.
It seemed we had forgotten how to live, bombarded by images and adverts on every screen, from tv to phone to laptop. We survived on tablets, a cacophony of visuals, adverts honing in, ‘right atchya!’ Your every move scrutinised, targeted.
It seemed we had forgotten how to stay awake, be alive, never mind the biggie:
How to Die.
Somehow the coffee shop became a temple, not just coffee on the run in take-away cups, but a place to talk, and so they started meeting, mainly strangers, with boundaries on time and distress and confidentiality, in hushed tones they spoke tentative words, stumbling, uncertain.
Just like therapy.
But conversations start to flow and froth, rich and warm and chocolate topped.
The foreign land of death explored, amidst mouthfuls of croissant and pannetone woodland burial, cremation, cardboard or wood, where would choose to die if you could?
And the questions of how to symbolise a life passed – and what belief in a world beyond
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Atheist or agnostic?
All else was sliding, intolerance spiralling but here was an opportunity to think about the nature of living, and the substance of love in a community
of coffee cups and sugar lumps, and think of how we would want to say goodbye without censure.
Amidst the clinking of teaspoons and cups, and scraping of plates, almost like a wake and here we are awake, properly, consciously of what will come for us all without taboo, permission to consonant and vowel the inevitable, that the world about us tries to obliterate, but here is the thirst to talk about death before it is