The delicate issue of how we wish to be remembered when we're gone has risen again in the shape of Sir Jimmy Savile's triple-width headstone at a cemetery in Scarborough.
Overlooking the bay, the four-foot tall, 18-inch wide stone comes complete with etchings of the late DJ and television presenter at different stages in his career, a list of the charities for which he raised £45 million, a poem about his life featuring many of his catchphrases – and a potted biography containing a spelling mistake.
The unfortunate misspelling of "Chieftan of the Lochaber Highland Games" threatened to overshadow the actual content of the Savile life story when the £4000 headstone spanning three plots was unveiled this week. It will of course be rectified, and it will leave the world in no doubt about the original purpose of this stone: to remind us that here was a man who mattered. His family say they expect the plot to be popular with pilgrims – sorry, fans – who will continue to throng the site to pay their respects, and that its width is to prevent them treading on anyone else's remains. They even joked that they expected an ice cream stall to set up nearby.
And yet Savile himself reportedly said he would never have a headstone because he wasn't going anywhere, and that he knew nothing lasts forever.
Accepting the death of a loved one is difficult for everyone left behind, and of course we want them to be remembered, as most of us hope to be when our turn comes. But as headstones in general become ever more flamboyant, personal and expensive, maybe it is a timely opportunity to reflect on who we really think we are. After all, if you'll pardon the pun, death is the great leveller – even of fame and fortune.
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