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While having drinks with a friend last night, the subject of the British author Roald Dahl came up. None of us at the pub could remember the specifics of when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so naturally we all dove for iPhones and Wikipedia. Scrolling through his Wikipedia entry, though, we came across this bit:

Roald Dahl died on 23 November 1990, at the age of 74 of a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, in Oxford,[49] and was buried in the cemetery at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. According to his granddaughter, the family gave him a “sort of Viking funeral”. He was buried with his snooker cues, some very good burgundy, chocolates, HB pencils and a power saw.

No, really. The man was buried with a power saw.

Or at least that’s what Wikipedia claims his granddaughter said, along with the fact that he was given a “sort of Viking funeral.” The article didn’t speculate on what that means, but we certainly did. Following the Wikipedia link, we learned that Norse funerals often entail laying the dead “in a boat, or on a stone ship” where “they were given grave offerings in accordance with [their] earthly status and profession. … Afterwards, piles of stone and soil were usually laid on top of the remains in order to create a tumulus.”

A “tumulus,” by the way, is just a fancy way of saying “pile of dirt or stones.” You know, like in Beowulf.

Maybe it was just the Smithwick’s talking when we all decided that going out on a big funeral pyre with The Who screaming over big-ass speakers seemed like a better funeral plan, but we all loved the inclusion of a favorite power tool in the grave. One drawback, though: Isn’t it best to leave tools for the living?

(Thanks, John Picken, for the CC-licensed photo. The photo I took last night was, um, a little blurry.)


11 Responses to Buried With… A Power Saw?

  1. tom spisak says:

    my own religious tradition forbids taking anything but a shroud and a plain wood box (preferably pegged together) into the grave
    even so, I think I’d prefer my tools get passed along to someone who will (ab)use them with the love I have
    that having been said, spending eternity with a good eats, good drink, and the implements that gave one pleasure in this life has a fundamentally romantic charm

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    Personally I’d have picked an intricately carved tablet explaining how awesome I am and a stone carved relief of Anglina Jolie with the inscription that read “the only man I ever loved”

    That ought to stand me in good stead 1000 years from now when science uncovers the tomb to learn more about 21st century man.

    As long as you’re dead, you might as well have a little fun.

  3. Mac says:

    As a true Irishman, I would like to be buried with those Guinness’. 😀 Though Sean’s idea has merit.

  4. shotdog says:

    The poor man will need a long extension cord connected to the corporeal world if he intends to use that power saw. sd

  5. ambush says:

    I wouldn’t mind being buried in a car. As long as I’m driving it when it happens.

  6. Tom says:

    I like the funeral pyre idea, but they are illegal in most of the US.

  7. Doug says:

    I’d like a small pick-axe and a collapsible shovel. You know, just in case.

  8. mickeyrat says:

    Maybe it was cordless,just in case he came to and had to get out

  9. Toolfreak says:

    I’m all for this. If I’m going to be buried, I’d want to be buried with some tools you can bust out of a coffin with. An oxygen tank would probably be good to have, too.

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