A SCOTTISH funeral parlour says they aim to put smiles on people’s faces on the darkest days with their “wacky” coffin designs – including one that looks like a pint of Tennent's lager.

Murdo Chambers, 49, is the manager of the Edinburgh branch of Go As You Please, which specialises in picture coffins, which can be made to look like a Greggs steak bake, a Doctor Who Tardis or even the comedian Nish Kumar.

The National:

Despite the far-out designs, Chambers said there was a more serious purpose to the custom coffins.

He told The National: “We do want folk to look and say, ‘Gosh, that’s a wee bit different, that’s quite funny’. Not because we’re trying to make death funny but we’re trying to get people to talk more about death, because we don’t in this country talk about it in this country nearly as much as we should for something that affects each and every one of us.”

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Chambers has managed the Willowbrae Road shop for five years and recently made a coffin for a lifelong Guinness drinker who wanted his coffin to reflect his love of the brown stuff.

The National:

Such embellishments on the traditional casket are not just a novelty, said Chambers – they give a personalised slant on tradition and give people a reason to smile at gloomy funerals.

He said: “We had one just last week and the guy was still alive when they initially phoned up and he’d said to his niece, ‘Well I drank Guinness all my adult life, I’d like to go in something with Guinness on it.’

“So that’s what he got. He was associated with that, people would see the coffin and they would smile. It had his nickname on it as well. That in itself isn’t just novelty, that’s representing them at the end and I feel if folk want that, it’s fantastic.

“It adds a different slant on the day of the funeral. People are still sad and grieving, of course they are, but they can also still smile and laugh at the things about that person, and one of those things might well be a picture coffin, a coffin that they maybe chose themselves before they died – or the family knew that they wanted something like that and go for it.”

The National:

One of the most bizarre designs for a coffin – which will set you back £750 – is one depicting a Dyson hoover, on which Chambers said he could not comment because he did not know who it had been for.

He added: “I suppose you could say that’s novelty but generally speaking when it comes to the bespoke picture coffins I would say we’re not dealing with novelty, we’re dealing with individuality.

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“As far as I’m concerned, people can have whatever they want – whether it’s a traditional one or something wacky and out there."

The window display – which catches the eyes of those passing on the bus into Edinburgh city centre – Chambers admitted is a conversation starter and gives them a competitive edge on other, more sober funeral parlours.

He said: “That more serious part aside, there is also the idea that, look we’re called Go As You Please, if folk see something like that and they start to think about it, they start to think well what would they like. It gets a conversation on all different levels.

The National:

“Although people could go to lots of different funeral directors and get picture coffins or bespoke coffins, or they could even just go online and buy their coffin themselves – you don’t need an undertaker to do that for you – we show people them and that’s unusual.

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“People have generally not wanted to see coffins and I guess if we had a window full of standard, traditional-type coffins there would be a very different take on it. But people don’t need to see that, they know what a traditional coffin’s all about and that’s what a lot of people would expect and then they see something that is different and it’s important for us that they do see them because, yes, they can go elsewhere but nobody is willing to show these things.

“All the other funeral directors follow the same line really. We get people looking, smiling, taking photos, coming in for a wee blether.”

Chambers told how Nish Kumar and Josh Widdicombe designed their own coffins while filming part of their show Hold the Front Page at the shop which never made the final cut.

Widdecombe designed a casket with a collage of nineties nostalgia, featuring Mr Blobby and Blur album covers, while Kumar opted for an uncanny depiction of himself in the box.

“They ended up not using the piece in the programme,” said Chambers. “I don’t know why – maybe I didn’t work on film!”