Rab McNeil’s Week:
Never fear. We won’t be lingering on the gory details. It’s actually funerals I’m more concerned with, after a report by consumer group Fairer Finance claimed decent ratepayers were signing up for rubbishy funeral plans that they didn’t understand.
You shrug and say: “Who cares, ye’ll be deid anyway.” That is a good point, well made. However, it ignores the fact that outstanding costs not covered in your plan will devolve to your nearest and dearest, who may be left wailing and gnashing their gnashers.
Fairer Finance’s report, commissioned by funeral providers Dignity, also says high-pressure sales tactics are being used on vulnerable consumers, who are persuaded to buy their own pre-paid funeral. Talk about digging your own grave.
This is, I need hardly point oot, ootrageous. The average cost of funerals is high enough as it is: somewhere around four grand or the like.
Buying a funeral is like taking your car to the garage or looking at the price tag on a pair of troosers in Jenner’s. You have to stifle an urge to blurt out: “How much!”
Even then, it’ll cost more if you want embalming, limousines, the funeral service, a wake, a burial plot or a memorial stone.
Fortunately for my loved ones – trying to think who they are at the moment – I want none of these things. The only problem my loved ones will have is which recycling bin to put me in. Green for landfill, I guess.
My only stipulation is that I don’t really fancy cremation. It feels a bit, I don’t know, burny to me. I quite like the idea of mouldering away in the earth, as long as someone puts a couple of coins on my eyes to stop worms breenging in, the slimy sods.
I would also countenance having my body fired into ooter space, there to float for eons, occasionally bumping into meteors and debris, like a slow and dodgy astral dodgem.
It’s not all grim news on the funerals front. Co-op Funeralcare is continuing to recruit around 500 apprentices a year, including former policemen, classical musicians and plumbers. I thought about it myself once.
It was after the funeral of my dear departed mother. The funeral parlour was so sumptuous, all old wood, high ceilings and classical statuettes in alcoves, that I thought: “I could get used to this.”
Eventually, the funeral director interrupted my reverie, saying: “Now, about your mother.”
And I nearly said: “What mother?”
I’m sure it’s just something else I wouldn’t be any good at, tittering in all the wrong places and sitting on my top hat. Guess I’ll just have to remain in the land of the living – for now.
Stick this kebabology
The backbone of the British economy – takeaways – is being threatened by a looming shortage of workers, according to objective research by the British Takeaway Campaign.
It points out that, while the industry employs 230,000 workers and contributed £4.5 billion to economic output last year, it’s getting hit hard by business rates and “skills shortages” in fish supper science and kebabology.
Must say even I could fry a fish, though I might need to take an evening class in skewering peculiar items of cuisine onto a stick.
I will be quite candid with you here: I’m a Rab who’s only once had a kebab. Never understood the premise of the thing. Why stick the food on a stick? Doesn’t make sense.
Were I to enter a fast-food outlet and say, as I am wont to do, “Give me your most logical food”, the last thing I’d expect is a kebab. Besides which, a man in my position cannot be seen staggering down the street after closing time waving food about on a stick.
A fish supper, clutched by the left hand to the chest like a warm baby while the right hand plucks the food for transportation to the gob is, in my experience, far more dignified and much more appreciated by attractive women.
However, I take the British Takeaway Campaign’s point about the grief that would befall the nation at any threat to our fast food. It wants to get more young British people “fired up about working in this exciting industry”.
I wish them godspeed, even if taking some of their claims with a pinch of salt.
Fake poisoning? You couldn’t make it up
I’m not really your man for scams. That is to say, I can never think of any.
But some people seem to be at it all the time, exploiting every possible avenue. The latest one is fake food poisoning. I don’t mean that the food is fake but the poisoning.
According to yon BBC, a massive rise in false insurance claims is causing travel industry chiefs and Spanish hoteliers to do their nuts. They say the fake claims could be passed on to the package holiday prices of decent punters. Worse still, British tourists could be banned from some resorts.
For it is British tourists who are at it the most apparently. Boy, oh boy. What have we become? Once we fought them on the beaches, now we feign illness in the foyers.
The problem has prompted action by the UK Government, and it’s not the usual “Quick, form a committee!” but a reduction in the cash incentives for such claims and in the legal costs that travel firms have to pay out.
Speaking as Foreign Secretary and not panel show guest, Boris Johnson, today’s equivalent of Winston Churchill, observed sardonically that the British digestive system had become “the most delicate in the world”. Probably all these kebabs.
Seventh heaven? Or six of the best?
I shouldn’t tell you this, in case you put in a higher bid than me, but former lingerie tycoon Lady Mone is putting her £13 million, seven-bedroom villa in the south of France on the market.
What do I care? I only need six bedrooms. And there probably isn’t a kebaberie for miles.
Rab McNeil’s column is sponsored by Scotland’s Award Winning independent financial advisers, Alan Steel Asset Management