how to be immortal
Wednesday 13 December 1995
Yet which of us can honestly say we have never craved immortality? Something that will resonate down the years, long after your dust has settled?
Of course, if your life proves to be one of great moment in the arts, science or politics, you may be immortalised automatically. But if you have led a low-key and blameless life, you may have to plan for the post- post-retirement years yourself.
If you are a star of the TV, or film variety, fame can be fleeting. If, however, for as little as pounds 55, you have a star of the huge, distant, exploding ball of helium variety named after you, fame is stress-free and never- ending.
The International Star Registry has already allocated more than half a million heavenly bodies to human ones. Celebrity recipients include Elvis Presley and Raquel from Coronation Street (a gift from Curly last Christmas). Happily, there are still about 14.5 million left, including a limited number of binary star systems (for lovers) that revolve, rather touchingly, around each other and are actually visible to the naked eye.
It should be pointed out that these names have no relation whatsoever to the annotation system used by astronomers, and the chances of Patrick Moore mentioning your star on The Sky at Night are pretty slim, to say the least.
The idea of naming a rose in your own honour may seem comparatively down to earth. However, a good deal more work goes into breeding a new rose than issuing a star certificate, and commercial considerations also have a stake. They want these roses to sell.
Of course, if you happen to have been christened Golden Sunrise or Opal Morning-Dew, then it is conceivable that rose- growers may agree to name their latest creation after you for a token consideration. But if you want them to call an otherwise highly marketable inflorescence, Edna B Willowbottom, then the fee may be somewhat higher. As much as pounds 10,000 in fact - although you may get a cutting or two thrown in.
If you would like to think of future generations strolling down your own boulevard, then you may have something of a fight on your hands - unless you plan to build the thing yourself.
Take the case of those who sought to immortalise Reg Jones. Just over a year ago, a council in Midsummer Norton, near Bath, planned to honour the recently- deceased nonagenerian with a street name. He had worked down the mine, kept the grounds at the local football club and written two volumes of local history. "I'm fed up with the rich and famous having streets named after them," the council chairman, explained.
A cul-de-sac was chosen to honour Reg but the residents were not amused. "Reginald wouldn't be too bad," said one, "but plain Reg is comical." The council lost the battle, and the developer had the final say.
Plaques are another option. The plaque everyone wants is the blue type, handed out by English Heritage at the conservative rate of about 12 a year. But they won't even start to consider you until you are dead. So if you want to be immortalised, you are going to have to do something to earn it.
Alternatively, put a plaque up yourself. Obviously you can't use the English Heritage crest, but apart from that, assuming you own the place, the only constraint is financial.
And remember, don't sell yourself short. Personally, I've always felt that "Man of letters born here" would sit well with my name and dates over 17, The Cheverals, Dunstable. I wonder who's living there now? I'd be willing to split the cost...
International Star Registry (freephone 0800-212493)
National Rose Society (01727 850461)
Ashworth's ceramic plaques (0181-852 2920); Davis Nameplates (0181- 853 5997)
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
Madonna might be a stand-up comedy virgin - but she wasn't terrible
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'