It’s impossible to predict how someone might die. And every year the way people meet their end gets weirder and weirder.
About 450 people a year die falling out of bed, 150 by falling coconuts and 24 suffered death by champagne corks.
Some seem so strange that it’s hard to believe, like the couple trampled by their own camels while the owner of the world’s longest beard tripped over it and broke his neck.
Then there are ones that make you roll your eyes. Like the lawyer who tried to demonstrate that a victim could have shot himself by picking up the gun and accidently shooting himself. Or the owner of a wool mill who fell into the machine and was wrapped to death in 800 yards of wool.
Yes, some are (tragically) hilarious.
How they died is immortalised in the stories. And sometimes this is reflected on their headstones.
Mel Blanc - the voice of Porky Pig - says That’s All Folks. William H Hahn Jnr’s reads I told you I was sick. Frances Eileen Thatcher’s reads Damn, it's dark down here.
Then there are the types of memorials. Jules Verne has a sculpture of himself climbing out of his grave and Harry Houdini has a bust of his own head.
On visits to cemeteries we have found creepy decapitated angels, a gravestone with a window in it (no we don’t know why), crosses made of rusted iron, or slowly eroding wood.
Then there are the ones with no headstone at all. It’s not uncommon for those found guilty of murder or have committed suicide not to have a headstone and even to be buried outside the normal bounds of a cemetery.
Some however have poetry, wise sayings, words of love and then some have an epitaph that leads to a story.
Like the headstone of John Riddall which not only says dearly beloved husband of Ada but also Who met his death whilst skylarking. (so Ada might have been a bit exasperated.)
Riddall was 32 when he died - he had been at the Carlton Hotel in Wellington’s Willis Street.
He had been sitting on a railing of a balcony on the fourth floor when he overbalanced and fell on April 26, 1919.
Riddall had been a grocer’s assistant and relatively new to Wellington. He had been president of the Auckland union of grocers assistants three years before.
He is buried in Karori Cemetery.
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