Generally speaking, Western culture shuns, fears and hides from death whenever possible. It is shrouded in mystery, and in fact, in secrecy to some extent. We don't like to discuss it at all, but when we must, we use euphemisms for it. We shield our children from it, we don't let them attend funerals...
Celebrating a life can lighten the pain of loss - sharing special moments of meaning, private and public. Mixing numbness, heart break, tears of pain and the longing to hold, talk, see, hear the other just on more time with pride, joy and gratitude for what we have experienced with and because of the other, who has gone.
Both the success of the Museum of London's recent Pleasure Gardens exhibition, and the establishment of the worthy but ill-fated London Pleasure Garden at Royal Victoria Dock suggest that there is some vestige of nostalgia in the city's collective consciousness for the magical entertainments of its rich past.
Last week, more than 50 young people from all over the country travelled to voice their support for standardised cigarette packaging at British American Tobacco's Annual General Meeting in London... Their colourful banners stated 'plain packs protect' while another read 'I don't ever wanna lose my best friend, smoking kills'.
I thought about writing about how I haven't seen wood lice in over ten years, but that's just weird right? So, I'm going to write about my funeral. Because that's not weird at all. The reason I'm writing about my funeral is because a friend of mine out of the blue recently said to me "If you die any time soon, can I have your clutch bag collection?"
Much has already been written about the tragic events of 14 December in Newtown, Connecticut. It's hard to think of anything much worse than twenty small children being gunned down just before Christmas, for doing nothing worse than attending school. But what is the global perspective on this awful event?
What can't be emphasised too strongly here is that these are analyses of real deaths and actual weather. They are not simulations or models - and it reflects the great strength of the INDEPTH Network that it is possible to analyse factual information in this way from parts of the world where reliable data are usually in short supply.