Charles Moore Charles Moore

The obituaries guide that fills me with terror

The Times’s internal guide to writing its obituaries has fallen into my hands. It adds new terrors to death. Questing after interest (‘the quirkier the better’), it invites obituarists to ask unusual questions about the dead: ‘Were they cold-hearted bastards in the workplace?’ ‘Did they enjoy baiting their neighbour’s dog and teaching their grandchildren to smoke?’ It also advocates ‘the gentle saying of the opposite of what is meant… If, for example, we say that the wife of XXXXX [here it names a well-known politician] “definitely was not once a high-class prostitute”, British readers would assume she definitely was’.

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