In Your Shoes - Paul Craigie

Paul Craigie is Funeral Director with Affertons Funeral Care in Dundee.

As the firm gets ready to move into new premises and launch a new website, Paul shares with us a week in his busy working life.

Affertons Funeral Care’s new premises will open at 207 Strathmartine Road, Dundee DD3 8PH in August.

Email for more information. 


The move into our new premises has been a long time coming. In January 2020 our old premises on Clepington Road was destroyed by fire. It’s been an unsettling and disruptive year and a half since then as we borrowed premises and moved into temporary digs waiting for our new home. Every day, the new HQ on Strathmartine Road moves a bit closer to completion. Today, the sign is up – bearing our new logo. I love it.


Wide awake club and up and at it before 5.30 a.m. It must be the anticipation of today’s photoshoot for the new website and the next part of our ardent journey.

Quick dash to the office to do some checks on outstanding funerals then don the kilt attire for today’s catwalk capers. Myself and my colleague Ronnie are getting photographed at Balgay Park.

Click, click, flash, flash and four hours later with one change of clothing into our ‘blacks’ and it’s all over. I now have new admiration for models! Not as simplistic as it appears. However, 10 minutes or so before the end of the shoot, I receive a call from a bereaved family asking us to attend to their home post haste and in that nanosecond we are back to reality. The ‘shoot’ had been a brief welcome distraction from the norm.

It’s turned out to be a long day, but that said, no one signs up to be a funeral director for 9 till 5 set hours. That’s just a distant dream.
I hit the hay, hope and pray for all concerned that the phone remains silent throughout the night.


It did.

Happy to report that I have managed a full night’s rest and am ready to go for today’s planned events.

We have a funeral this morning and therefore many boxes to tick prior to setting off. I wash AND dry the hearse, and polish inside and out. Not the smallest of vehicles. I have an out of town Church Service followed by an internment in the local cemetery.

Routine checks are done: Vehicles. Fuel. Flower list. Service sheets. Music all in order.

And, of course, time. One of the most important things with the whole funeral arrangement, for us, is timing. Too early and we can run into another funeral that’s running late or vice versa. Clergy, organists, cemetery staff all have ongoing commitments and will have timed them accordingly and rest assured if there is a problem, regardless of who is to blame, the buck stops with the funeral arranger.

The funeral all goes as it should with no hiccups. And… breathe. But not for long as we have another funeral this afternoon.
And repeat. It’s all in a day’s work.


As if a 6.00 a.m. start was not early enough, today I’m woken with the shrill of the phone at 3.20 a.m. It can only mean one thing: a family has lost a loved one and requires our services. During the night call-outs are a funeral director’s bugbear but quickly pale into insignificance when compared to the family’s plight. We are thankful to be given the privilege of taking their loved one into our care. I will meet the family later this evening to make the necessary funeral arrangements.

This morning we have a ‘delicate’ funeral to conduct - an infant. It entails many different facets to that of an adult service. Emotions are always at a different level when dealing with children and are certainly more time consuming and stressful all round. A beautiful pair of white horses and a carriage arrive along with a mountain of flowers. We have a church service and on to a local cemetery which is baking in warm sunshine. That raises the sombre mood.

Back to the office and there are calls, calls, calls both in and out. There is music to download, there are service sheets to design and print. Flowers to order, estimates and final accounts to generate - all punctuated with family coming in to pay their last respects to loved ones already with us. On the surface the public only the see the calm professionals performing their duties. However, have a peek under the water and you will see those feet doing something quite different.


It appears that sleep is not an option - an occupational hazard when you have a number of outstanding funerals going on. The brain is a fickle organ which has a habit of waking funeral directors in the middle of the night just to question themselves that all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed for the following day’s events. It’s extremely unnerving at times.

A run along to Arbroath this morning to collect a ‘special’ coffin that we ordered in for a family which I need to get back quickly to get furnished for their approval. A funeral at noon will again require the usual routine of hearse and car cleaning and all the associated checks before we leave to collect the family and make our way to the crematorium.

Who knows? I may even manage some lunch today. But then this is the funeral business and no one knows what’s round the corner.

As a 24/7 business I can’t really say it’s the end of the week for me but for the purposes of this blog it is. It’s been a busy five days and a nice way to end that would be for Scotland to give the Auld Enemy four or five goals tonight. C’mon Scotland!