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Family Notices a-plenty


Al Gilkes

Family Notices a-plenty

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I love to relax without a care in the world on Sundays, and leisurely wander from page to page through my Sunday Sun. If I feel like, I can take as long as it would to read every word from Page 1 to Page Last, simply because it’s my day of rest.
This might surprise you, but after reading whatever is the major Front and Back Page news of the day, I flip straight to my column to see what I have written. That probably sounds strange but I never become fully aware of what I have written until I see it printed in the newspaper. The reason is that while I am writing I am continuously making changes to ensure my thoughts are the same as what I am keyboarding. As a result, it’s only by reading what appears here on Sunday that I am able to judge whether I have produced a good column or have disappointed with something not up to standard.
I subsequently read bits and pieces of everything else in the publication, ranging from news, politics and religion to health, comics and what no longer is my favourite section, the Classifieds.
Once I used to spend a lot of time browsing the Classifieds because, among other benefits, they gave me a feel for the strength or weakness of the economy.
I extracted that knowledge from the increase or decrease in commercial and domestic rents; the asking price for houses, land and vehicles; the number of properties offered up sale “on instructions from the mortgagee”; the increase or decrease in garage sales; the number of commercial properties available for lease or rent; the number and variety of employment opportunities, and so on.
However, these days I am becoming less and less attracted to the Classifieds because one other area that used to hold my attention is now turning me off. I am talking about the Obituaries, renamed Family Notices, where these days I see so many people I know kicking the bucket that this section is now a sure cause for depression on Sunday.
I don’t know if its my imagination but I seem to recall that the number of people with the word Death printed over their announcements used to be so few that they accounted for one or one and a half pages at the most. Some Sundays of late I find relatives, friends, associates and acquaintances spread across as many as six pages.
What has also increased the impact of these notices on the mind is that whereas in days gone by the majority were published in a single column, with a small head and shoulder photograph, nowawdays the trend is for large multicolumn productions complete with full-length photographs of the deceased.
It also used to be that the majority of notices were of elderly people in their 80s, 90s and 100s. Not so any more. As if there is a new epidemic called death sweeping the land, every age is represented on Sundays, including babes in arms and toddlers.
Maybe my problem is a simple case of becoming paranoid about the fact that sooner or later I will also look in the Sunday Sun and see my own photograph in one of those notices.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email [email protected]

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