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Eternity in a Pub: Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting?

January 3, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ A company has come up with the ultimate ″last call″ for people whose idea of heaven is a cozy English pub.

For $8,000, customers can have their ashes rest under their favorite stools or beneath the bar where they bent their elbows and be toasted every year as a not-quite-absent friend.

″Instead of being stuck in a cold graveyard in a cemetery where few people visit, the deceased will be surrounded by friends who will have a permanent reminder of the good times they enjoyed,″ says Colm O’Rourke, owner of the Little Pub Co.

Brewers Society spokesman Mike Ripley said he doubted anyone would ever be buried in a pub.

″It’s a very silly story,″ Ripley said. ″I suspect the idea was thought up at 11:55 on New Year’s Eve and if someone had told me tomorrow was April First I wouldn’t be at all surprised.″

The Home Office, which regulates burials, said there were no regulations prohibiting ashes being buried in pubs - unless the corpse is already buried. Exhumations are not allowed.

The Little Pub Co. is offering eternal rest at the Pack Horse, the Little Tumbling Sailor or any of the other of its 10 pubs in western England, said the company’s attorney, Jack Haywood.

Haywood describes O’Rourke as ″an Irish millionaire who’s completely barmy with these weird and wonderful pubs.″

O’Rourke, 39, wants his ashes buried in the Pack Horse in his home village of Bewdley in Worcestershire, 95 miles northwest of London.

″I am going to be buried in one of our larger pubs, since I’m a big guy,″ said Haywood, who has selected the Pie Factory pub in Tipton. ″Since my wife always finds me there she will be used to visiting me there.″

The plan was born, Haywood admitted, ″when we’d had far too much to drink.″

At the White Lion in Cradley Heath, 100 miles northwest of London, manager Brian Robinson said several regulars told him they wanted to be buried amid the pints and the pub grub.

Robinson said interest centered on a spot directly in front of the pub’s best brew, Lumphammer Bitter.

Sam McCormack, operations manager at the Little Pub Co. headquarters in Kidderminster, said the plan was indirectly inspired by the death of a customer at the Pack Horse.

″We were holding a retirement party for (him),″ Mrs. McCormack said. ″The man went home to change and didn’t come back. Everyone was very upset.″

The brass plaque erected in his memory inspired the ashes scheme, Mrs. McCormack said.

Dead customers could be accommodated anywhere in the pub, Haywood said. The fee would include an urn, a brass plaque and the annual wake.

″Why not give people the chance once they’re cremated to be put in a block behind the bar as opposed to being scattered over a golf course?″ Haywood said.

″My family would certainly come and visit me,″ Robinson said, ″if I were buried in a pub.″

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