Thread: MobileRead Discussion: Stiff by Mary Roach
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:11 AM   #4
Sparrow
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I'm currently reading 'Stiff', and enjoying it. But I'm puzzled by a passage in Chapter 4, "Dead Man Driving":

"In 1916, a group of animal rights activists successfully petitoned the British Undertakers Association on behalf of the horses that pulled their hearses, urging members to stop making the horses wear plumes on their heads."

Roach describes this as 'nonsensical', it doesn't seem to have occurred to her that the objection may have been against the suffering of birds that supplied the plumes, rather than the horses that wore them - similar to the way hat feathers were often campaigned against.
And that is assuming her story is correct in the first place, she doesn't cite a source. But in "The Much Chosen Race" (1922) by Sidney A. Moseley there is a passage that sheds a different light on what may have actually happened:

I observe, in this connection, some pointed comments which were made by the Vicar of Chiswick in a lecture to members of the Ealing Centre of the British Undertakers' Association. ...
He expressed a desire to help undertakers to "abolish some of the gloominess of funerals and to make them the triumphant and beautiful affairs they were down to the 16th century."
"I am grateful to you," he added, "for having used your influence to abolish those appalling plumes which were a feature of funerals not many years ago and those long, dreary, hatbands, too. ..."


I shall be reading the rest of the book with a rather more wary assumption of its accuracy from here on in.
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