Sif

Necrogamy

I’m sure this happens to all of us at times when you come across something so left field, so bizarre you have to look into it further to satisfy a curiosity so urgent that it would lay waste to a clowder, no problem. This was the case for me when I read an article about a woman who had married the ghost of a long-dead 17th-century pirate; who wouldn’t, how cool is that? The thing being is it wasn’t a legally binding marriage, obviously, and was a wedding ceremony in name only. However, the article did go on to explain that necrogamy (marriage to a deceased person) is a real thing and still takes place to this day and you won’t believe where. I bet if some of you were asked to guess you’d think of some remote south-seas island or deep in the heart of an only recently explored rainforest but no, it’s France. Yes, that France. The one just over the way, home to the booze cruise and snail munching. China and Sudan have similar systems but I will concentrate on our Gallic cousins.

It all started during World War I when the French government allowed some women to marry soldiers who had died in service of their country, which seems reasonable enough. Later, in the 1950s, people without connection to military personnel killed in action were allowed to apply for the right to marry, after a terrible tragedy involving a burst dam claimed 400 victims. It is reported that hundreds of people since then have filed for the right to marry a dead person, to partake in necrogamy. It’s not easy though. A request must be sent to the President of France no less, who then forwards it to The Justice Minister who then passes it onto ‘…the prosecutor of the surviving member’s district…’ then if the couple had already planned on getting married prior to one of them dying and the deceased’s family do not object, the marriage may go ahead. Three out of every four requests for necrogamy in France are upheld.

This got me wondering and I wondered if I was in a position whereby I could bag myself a highly eligible mariée morte? All I needed was a dead French bird with the right credentials and I couldn’t pick anyone better than 18th-century cake snaffler supreme, Marie Antoinette. Long dead, not on Tinder so no competition and as an ex-Queen of France she must be worth a mint. I was about to get my 1976 edition of the English to French dictionary out and download the forms from Monsieur Macron’s office when I came upon a slight hurdle…a hurdle the size of giraffe standing on a horse’s back. Turns out you are allowed to marry dead folk but you have no legal rights to their possessions or wealth as a surviving spouse. Yet another get rich quick rug whipped from under my feet leaving me flat on my arse, flat broke as per usual and still lacking the crown I so desire.

With a rich, dead wife to look after my every need (almost every, let’s not get too weird; that gives ‘pussy’ a whole new meaning) denied to me I wondered if there were any other strange matrimonial bindings around and as per normal the good old human race did not leave me wanting. People have married all kinds of shit (possibly literally but I found no instances of that; maybe you’re married to a turd?) and done so in what appears to be all seriousness. I know you want to know so here are some of things people, men and women, have married: The Berlin Wall, a Ferris wheel, a fence panel, a warehouse, bridges, trees, cardboard cut-outs of people (usually celebrities, of course), a train station, a mobile phone (not a hard stretch for some of you reading this, I’m sure), video game characters, the Eiffel Tower, a radio, a pillow…that enough yet? It was for me. How feckin’ mental have we got as a species for this kind of thing to be happening in today’s…actually, wait a second, I might be having an epiphany here. Maybe there is something to this after all; could it be I have lived a life of blinkered romantic restriction?

Let’s, for the sake of research, imagine ourselves wed to a hypothetical fence panel, the garden divider of our dreams. Like all relationships there will be positives and negatives, we’ll start with the pluses first.

Differences of opinion will be few and far between and you would be unlikely to be constrained by their jealousy or manipulation. Aside from some creosote every other year they couldn’t be called high-maintenance in a financial sense. With them being an outdoor type of character the bed is all yours and thus no duvet tug-of-war to deal with every night. No TV remote hogging, no nibbling on finger and/or toe nails, no comments on how you’ve let yourself go since getting hitched; I must admit it’s looking rather more appealing than I first thought.

Over to the dark side now. Intimacy could be awkward and you run a high risk of splinters in delicate areas. Although they do have a steady job, it’s more of a calling than a paying position so they won’t help out with the utilities bills. They’ll never be the designated driver nor lend you their coat (not even one of creosote) when you’re cold or it’s raining. Without doubt they would be the worst Trivial Pursuits partner ever, in the sense you can’t blame them for your wrong answer like in a normal relationship. No spontaneity, romance, small talk, emotional support or knock-knock jokes. Now I’m swinging back to thinking this is as mad as I first thought it was.

We’re on a journey together here, exploring in real-time and I hope you’re finding it as infuriating as I am.

With our insight on the subject slightly deeper, it could be that some of you thinking you are already partnered up with a metaphorical fence panel. A heartless wooden bastard/bitch who pays little attention to you until it comes to rubbing up against each other and risking splinters. (You can all make your own ‘wood’ jokes, it is beneath me to stoop to such a low.) In fact, some of you may be wishing you actually were romantically entangled with a real fence panel because you could set the bastard/bitch on fire or feed them into a wood chipper and no one would prosecute you for murder. Maybe the mad ones aren’t those hitched to The Odeon Multiplex but some of us who have picked another human to partner with? A Renault Clio is unlikely to pull us down about our taste in music (although I did once have a Nissan that ate my ‘Zodiac Mindwarp Tattooed Beat Messiah’ tape) and a juicer would never chastise or judge us for putting Jack Daniel’s into our morning smoothie.

Imagine what it must be like to have libido objecticus, the official medical term I just made up for the condition of wanting to shag a tumble dryer. Walking into B&Q for some must be akin to hitting a massive brothel with the hottest new models in town, it gives a whole new meaning to the hardware aisle. People with a lamppost fetish must dread, and love at the same time, going for the morning paper and those who idolize furniture legs must wish, several times a day, they had been born as a dog. I have nothing but sympathy for them and a little empathy as I have been banned from several motorcycle dealerships myself for dribbling on the merchandise…mostly from my mouth. Too far? Sorry, I will try to draw this nonsense to an end now.

At first glance marrying the deceased or a bridge or a car or any other inanimate object seems totally bonkers but then when you look around and see some of the people who have married another, highly unsuitable and/or undesirable, living breathing human, it’s time to ask…who are the ones with a problem? My inclination is that we all have some degree of libido objecticus in our psychological make-up but luckily we keep it on our pants…which is perfect if you fancy the kecks off trousers. Is it a thing we should worry about? Or even a concern to those of us who don’t follow through on a desire to begin a loving relationship with the patio furniture at a friend’s barbecue? I think not…but prising someone’s lips off a laptop you’re thinking of buying in PC World can prove a little tiresome.

I’ve got it! I’ll marry a bank! The Bank of England…and I’ll have an affair with the International Monetary Fund on the side, the bank won’t care. I’ve done it, I’m finally going to come into money. (Yes, I really am obscenely pleased with myself for that joke.)

If you enjoyed this why not treat yourself, or a loved/hated one, to a collection of articles akin to this by buying a copy of: ‘Sif Rants – One Man’s Stand Against a World Made Mostly of Mad’? Available from Amazon as an e-book or paperback for very reasonable coinage. You can even rub yourself against it if you fancy books, I won’t judge you.