With the new Freedom of Information Act out came a feast of previously untapped information. The most startling of which involved the governmentand their rather shady body: DDL or ‘Death, Dismemberment and Liquidation’ which have now undergone a thorough re-branding since the hiring of PR firm ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. The newly formed Life Affirmation Unit (LAU), no longer have the rather insensitive ‘Catch and Release’ policy but rather one of R&R, which I’m assured stands for ‘Release and Relaxation’. Speaking to Death , and its personal PR representative, on the subject I got an in-depth look at how one works at such a prestigious and important department.
I sit in a café overlooking the Victorian-esque streets of London, littered with greying figures escaping the cold weather. Out of nowhere a whirl of snowflakes brings the striking figure of Death, testing out the new black cape designed for the eminence by Chanel. It strides forward with PR representative Carol, from ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ the firm signed to the newly re-branded ‘Life Affirmation Unit’, previously known as ‘Transitional Services’, and before that DDL (‘Death, Dismemberment and Liquidation.’) Although Death assures me these are all different sections, and that it is solely assigned death duties.
We sit down to some steaming beverages on this most chilly morning. Death sips delicately on its green tea, with the recent release of Death’s details, Death’s celebrity status has allowed it to really publicise healthy living, something it assures me has always been close to its heart and was really an issue it felt strongly about and needed more public support. What better celebrity spokesperson than someone who can truly see the other side of the issue. Grim Reaper it is certainly not with such a stressful, 24-hour job, Death enjoys chilling out with a nice bottle of wine, and some DVD box sets of “whatever is current at the moment” or as Carol says, ‘The Crown’ on Netflix.
When we move onto the change in the law Carol gets positively giddy, she apparently was formally in the DDL unit but was unable to tell “even her husband” of her job title due to their ambiguity clause. Although, even now, she doesn’t go into details about her previous job description. Due to the unit’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy the offices had rather complicated administrative procedures, and kept friends, family and co-workers in the dark. It was a shadowy affair, and Death and Carol are in positive agreement that if the Freedom of Information Act hadn’t come about they would have been knocking down doors to bring us into this era of enlightenment and out of the dark ages. Death is highly positive about “FIA” as it fondly calls it, saying it feels it’s a really positive and important step forward for human kind “in this most United of Kingdoms.” Carol smiles, bites her lip and then hastens to correct him, “the UK and the rest of the globe.”
Death’s introduction to society hasn’t been so happily welcomed in other nations, where they are quite insistent it align itself with some sort of deity or religious system, and are rather alarmed with its allegiance to the British Nation. Death assures me it is but a regional figurehead, and that there are thousands of Reapers working within the country at this very moment, and many more doing so abroad. It adds that every assurance has been taken so that there will be no interruption to the service LAU provides, while its involved in important meetings, “such as these,” adds Carol. An appointed substitute has been in put in place, and “we are still very much on target,” says Carol.
I have heard that the pope apparently finds fault with Death’s Charter and would really like some clarification. The only thing Carol can add to this is that her contract is of ‘20 earthly years and several years of “non-denominational” after-life, which her Union are in talks with LAU to have clarified. She hastens to add that LAU is an equal opportunity employer. This is in fact a hot topic, and I get the feeling that Death is used to such lines of questioning from its own staff, no wonder wanting to make sure they’re on the right track, when working for Death. Although their press secretary was at pains to tell me that “there is no special treatment.” The only help employees are given is a health plan; “certain problem areas are highlighted and we encourage people to follow through with their own personal action plan.”
The contracts, such as Carol’s, are purely speculative and in no way indicate her time remaining on this earth, that’s why, the press secretary adds, “we are constantly renewing contracts, or find they end early. It would be most troubling to know one’s date of death, and we keep all sensitive information such as that out of the public domain, until the act has occurred.” Death however, is not “bothered,” Carol smiles, Death’s clearly got its fingers on the pulse, if maybe a few years too late. Death states that it doesn’t get involved with earthly distinctions such as faith and that HR deals with employment.
Reaper is more interested in discussing the great leaps and bounds that have taken place in “spirit transfers.” The transfer of souls is now down to a record 8 seconds, in keeping with government guidelines and targets. Carol tells me rather breathlessly that the whole department is putting forward plans to decrease the time taken to bare milliseconds. Death remains silent on this matter. There have been rumblings in the press from some high up officials that can’t be named that Death feels hemmed in and hampered by the sudden media glare it finds itself under, and the rather incongruous targets put forth by its department. “Each death is individual, and administration is really not its forte” it is believed to have said, reports a former aide. Death shakes its cape when I raise these questions. It states that yes, like most celebrities it finds the media glare rather unnecessary and bewildering, but understands, or has had it put to itself that this comes with the trappings of job nowadays. The millisecond plan, though, Reaper adds is wonderful, and one it is wholeheartedly behind and doing its utmost to secure within the ten-year window it has been given. Carol chirpily pipes in: “Five years.”
“Right, I’m sure that’s far more convenient for all those on NHS waiting lists.”
An archived piece from my idea Rebranding RIP/Transitional Services, inspired by my time working at the Probate Service.