It might have been any old trade fair at Le Bourget, the ex-airport- cum-conference-centre outside Paris: gleaming products revolving slowly on spotlit carousels; leggy blondes watching over them; businessmen ogling both with undisguised hunger. The difference was the nature of the wares. 'This is an entirely new product,' said the lady from Lear of London, eyeing a large plastic bag with enthusiasm. 'The film is highly absorbent and it's biodegradable.' Mmm. Ten litres of what? A sweet smile: 'Fluid discharge following "coffining".' This was Funeraire, the biennial beanfeast of the international funeral industry. Other delights included a revolutionary new embalming table ('mortuary hygiene' now) with under-the-stiff suction from Hygecobel of Spain, a new range of post mortem make-up (French Rose Blush), and a glossy new Mercedes-based hearse. Attendance at this second Funeraire was 10% up on 1989's, leading Louis-Vincent Thomas, president of the Thanatogical Society, to predict 'a brighter tomorrow for the funeral arts'.
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