I was idly watching television on a Sunday night recently – which I’m aware isn’t a riveting beginning but it’s as exciting as my social life gets these days.
I mean it – since becoming a father I literally do nothing of interest.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have an insanely thrill-filled life before – it wasn’t as if pre-children I spent my weekends bungee-jumping or taking part in naked swinging parties – but I did at least do things of mild interest occasionally.
Now, I do nothing of note.
For instance, earlier that afternoon, I went to Sainsbury’s to buy, on Mrs Canavan’s instructions, some Dettol antibacterial wipes.
As I was scouring the shelves, close to the Persil washing powder and the Toilet Duck, I spied a pack of 12 pan scourers on offer for 49p and actually caught myself thinking ‘my, what an excellent offer – I should get a couple of packets’.
It was at that point I realised I’d hit an all-time low and briefly considered heading to the nearest railway station, booking a one-way trip to somewhere distant like the Isle of Skye, and perhaps joining a hippie commune where I could live out my existence collecting flowers and playing ‘Michael Row The Boat Ashore’ on an acoustic guitar.
Of course, I’d write occasionally to Mrs Canavan and my daughter Mary and inform them of how I was getting on – I’m not that selfish.
Maybe they could even join me for a week once a year and I could teach Mary ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’.
However, just as I was fantasising about how marvellous a fresh start might be, a rotund man in a bright yellow fleece, said, ‘do you mind, I want to get to the clingfilm’ – and I realised I’d been stood in the middle of the aisle daydreaming.
But I digress. Back to Sunday night and the programme on TV.
It was Dragons’ Den, and involves very rich people flaunting their wealth and power by handing out money to less rich people, the idea being they’d start a business with it.
I began watching – the only other option was continuing to read a book I’m halfway through about the history of the wood pigeon, but I’ll be honest, it’s not a page-turner – when two chaps came on screen whose business idea was to fire the ashes of loved ones into space.
I did a double-take at this, for surely it couldn’t be true.
Why would you want to send your late grandmother into orbit? I mean, especially so in my case because she was terrified of heights and quite a large lady so she’d have never got in a spacesuit.
These two chaps waffled on for ages about their plans.
“Our service enables families the opportunity to fulfil their loved ones’ dreams”, said one, which surely can’t be true. I get that space travel is quite alluring while one is alive.
In fact if someone offered me the chance to land on the moon, I’d probably accept – though only if I was back in time for my regular five-a-side session on a Friday.
But when you’re dead – and without wishing to get into a religious discussion here – you’re kind of finished.
So what’s the point of going into orbit?
You couldn’t take in the view on the spacecraft, or do your share of the washing up after dinner.
You’d just sort of be sitting there in the corner, a bit of dust in a box.
I dismissed the two lads on screen as bonkers and the idea mad – but then I Googled it and was amazed to find that people have been doing this as a business since 1994, and with some success too.
Indeed Ascension Flights – the company featured in the programme – is about to launch its new funeral service, in which they propel your loved one’s ashes 21 miles into the air.
It’s £800 for a basic space-scattering, though the cost more than doubles if you want the deluxe package – which includes a video of your relative’s ashes being launched into space (what a DVD that would be to stick on at Christmas – ‘And here’s nana being shot towards the moon … no, you can’t watch Finding Nemo instead Jack; stop crying, the best bit’s coming up’).
I’ve rang my mother that night to ask if, when she’s no longer around, she’d like us to club together and send her to space.
“Oh no, I don’t think so,” she replied, “I’ve never liked the dark and there’d be no one to talk to. Just stick me by the shed in the back garden instead.”
Quite right too mam – who needs to go to Saturn when you can spend your afterlife in the backyard of a small terraced house in Bury...