If only this were an April Fools' spoof. A UK company called Rent A Mourner (RAM) is just what it claims to be: a legitimate service that provides 'fillers' to attend your funeral.
For a fee of £45 (around $70CD), the Essex-based company will "supply professional, polite, well dressed individuals to attend funerals and wakes." Oh, and crematoriums, too.
The service proves especially valuable in cases where a low turnout is expected—for those who were perhaps new to an area or country, or to boost numbers for those who were simply unpopular.
RAM apparently takes care to "integrate and mix with your other visitors," liaising about dress code, etc., prior to the big event. Unlike the friends you never had, these professional mourners are guaranteed to be both prompt and sincere.
I'm not quite sure why, assuming you're dead, you would care about the turnout. But RAM will certainly help your fellow mourners save face by putting a convincing front, taking up the cause of tragedy.
The saddest thing you've ever heard or a worthy service?
Those first steps are oh so vitally important to new parents. But does the month when your baby starts walking have any bearing on his future intelligence or coordination? A new study the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) set out to find the answer.
Though infants, on average, start walking around their first birthday, researchers found that the exact timing has little impact on their overall development.
This, after studying the data of 222 healthy bubs via Zurich Children's Hospital and Lausanne University.
Motor and intelligence tests conducted seven times in the first two years, then every two to three years until school age showed little variance whether the infant started walking as early as 8.5 months or as late as 20 months.
"If a child still can't walk unaided after 20 months, then further medical investigations are indicated," said Oskar Jenni of the Zurich Children's Hospital in an article in Science Daily.
So you need not panic if little Jacob is slower to toddle than his sister Sophia. As long as your child can walk unaided by the 16- to 18-month mark, there is no cause for concern. Rest assured, we all get there in the end.