Is Death to be embraced or should you spend the rest of your life in mourning?
For those less grey haired than me, Ena Sharples was an early stallwart and busy body on Coronation Street in the 1960’s. Think Dot Cotton from Eastenders. Queen Victoria – who was never on Coronation Street but coincidentally plays a pub in Eastenders – was as the name implies Queen of England during Victorian times. You can’t beat having an age named after yourself!
Ena and Vicky had sharply different views on death.
An early 1960’s episode of Coronation Street involves a conversation between Ena Sharples and her then sidekick Martha Longhurst. Ena says she feels ready to go to the cemetery and would like to go the way her mother did. Martha responds that Ena’s mother had a beautiful ending to which Ena replies; “Lovely, she sat up, broke wind and died”.
To talk about death in such an open manner in 1960 seems a little advanced for its time. Having said that, people born at the beginning of the 20th Century will have experienced far more death, particularly during infancy than we ever do now. Life expectancy in 1900 was 51. It’s now 79.
Queen Victoria became a widow at the age of 42. She spent the next 40 years of her life mourning her dear Albert’s death.
Albert was an extraordinary character. He reformed and modernised university curricula, staged the Great Exhibition, had 9 children with Victoria (clearly no slouch between the sheets) and gave us the Christmas tree.
He led a short but very rich life. Would it not have been better if Victoria had spent the last 40 years of her life celebrating his achievements as opposed to spending her time in mourning?
So which camp are you in? Ena Sharples or Queen Victoria?