We (family, dog, ancient Landrover, me) drove up to Edinburgh from Norfolk yesterday evening and have 24 hours at the Festival. It’s a stunning morning, the air feels scoured. From our apartment on the top floor of a Georgian block I can see right down to the Royal Yacht Club in Leith, across the Firth to Dalgety Bay and the patchwork hills beyond. In fact, it’s so clear, I think I can see Newcastle going the other way. At 6.30am I took the dog for a walk in one of the Victorian parks and it was so cold my teeth hurt when I took a breath.

Odd then, that in this city which is humming with art, culture and positive vibes, my thoughts turn to death. Assisted death, to be precise – but I’ve had a business idea.

I think death could be made a lot more fun.

One of my gripes with assisted death is it usually means dying in Switzerland in a surgery disguised as the lobby of a 3-star hotel: pleasant and probably very calming because it’s so boring and (sorry) a bit Swiss. My other problem is that as a Catholic, I can’t shake the feeling I’ll go to Hell if I commit suicide.

But, the older I get, the more empirical and practical I seem to become. If something does good, it is good. Assisted deaths make so much sense if done for the right reasons (alleviate the pain of long-term, incurable illness) and have obviously improved the end for many people and their families that I’m not going to be dogmatic, and I’m working on putting my superstitions to rest. 

However, I think it could be done better: I think we should put a little more imagination into it. When I go, I want to be able to choose from (in no particular order): resting on a huge platform, in a dramatic chamber, cut into a solid granite cliff face that overlooks crashing, boiling waves, foam spray and the eye of a huge storm; or, VR strapped to my eyes, the needle does its work as I save the child from the building the precise moment I hand her/him to grateful parents; or, fighting Orks, I hardly notice the slightest, yet most deadly puncture of all; better still, real actors playing Orks – same scenario (if I still have the strength to wield a broadsword); or actors playing winsome, scantily-clad females – let’s make them mermaids – singing a lament as I slip away; a king’s chamber in some Regency palace attended by actors playing all the famous people I admire most, gravely ushering me off … see? It could be really cool.

Back to the living, I got the sample tags for Monster Books from Hong Kong. I think they look great. With the aid of a corkscrew, bit of wire and some sticky tape, I made up the prototype you see here at the kitchen table. I think we’re onto something …


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