THE room has all the elements of a man cave — snooker table, collection of beer cans, model aeroplanes, coffin.
Wodonga’s Colin Hore has not only created himself a home away from home, but it also seems he’s also got his place of his eternal rest sorted.
He’s been described in the past as the collector’s collector and has an Aladdin’s Cave of car hubcaps, bar towels, biscuit tins, and at one time more than 15,000 aluminium cans which he’s accumulated since the early 1960s.
Always “pretty good with my hands”, he’s been putting spare cans to good use and making everything from model dunnies with windmills (well, you’ve got to have something to flush them) to biplanes and helicopters.
Click play on the video above to see Colin explain his beer can coffin. (iPhone users to go video tab in menu)
“I started off thinking that I could recycle them into something, just getting an idea and going from there,” Colin says.
“I’d seen a picture in a magazine, this bloke had made a couple and I just bettered them.”
And now he can add to the list his latest creation — coffins.
Made of MDF board, like any good collector Colin can list exactly what’s gone in to the object.
There are 100 nails, 4373 thumb tacks, 605 black tacks and 169 beer cans that took two months and three days, or 500 hours to build.
“It gives collectors the shits when they see it ... especially if they see a can they haven’t got,” Colin says.
“But the way it’s come up is fantastic, it’s even better than I thought it would be.”
And while it is a fitting reflection of Colin and his life — even with special cans featuring his beloved Essendon Football Club and the Ettamogah Pub — not everyone’s impressed.
“Even my mate around the corner won’t come round and look at it,” Colin says.
“He’s right off, won’t have a bar of it.”
But Colin was in Rescue On The Road before the days of the SES and has spent years in the fire brigade.
“Blood and gore and all that doesn’t worry me,” he says.
A small, black photo album falls open and on the inside of the cover, in pencil, are two words you’re unlikely to have seen together before — MY COFFIN.
Colin is nothing if not stoic and he’s not worried by thoughts of an afterlife.
“I don’t believe in that,” he says.
“Once I’m in there,” he says, tapping the lid, “that’s it, and I don’t give a bugger what happens.”
It’s actually a tradition that’s not unique in the world. In Ghana, fantasy coffins come in every shape and size and “showrooms” are filled with weird and wonderful designs, from Coke bottles to mobile phones, and from animals to aircraft.
And funeral director Lindsay Radcliffe, from Radcliffe Funeral Services, says he’s happy for people like Colin to think outside the box, as it were.
“It’s actually quite common,” he says.
“People do request coffins of different colours and descriptions, it is becoming more common from when people were very traditional in the past.
“Recently there was a young girl and her family wanted the coffin sprayed the same colour as her car, quite often if it’s a young person people will write on the coffin or stick stickers on it.”
Mr Radcliffe says the funeral service is open to families’ requests to help them through the grieving process.
“This is one little part that helps them in understanding, participating and achieving perhaps what their loved one would have wanted,” he says.
Though he does admit that Colin’s is one of the most unusual coffins he’s come across.
“He bought the coffin and it’s what he wanted to do and it’s come up looking really good,” Mr Radcliffe says.
“It’s in his pool room ready for when the day comes — he just wanted to be prepared.
“It will certainly look quite interesting sitting in front of the chapel.
“Quite often people will come in and write their personal story on the coffin, children will put in letters for granny or granddad.
“If it helps through the grieving process, as long as it fits morally and ethically, we always try to achieve what the family wishes.”
So will Colin’s family appreciate his own tribute to beer cans?
“Maybe they will,” he says.
“I won’t care — when I’m in there I won’t have to worry about anything, and I’m not afraid to die. I’ve also been putting my songs together — My Way, The Colonel Bogey March because I used to play in a band, and of course the Essendon club song.”
Far from being a morbid thing, Colin’s view of death is pretty uplifting.
“I always see the brighter side of life,” he says.
“And you’ve got to have a sense of humour — I’m coming off a stroke back in March and I’ve done all this as a sort of therapy.
“If I wake up in the morning I’ve got another day, that’s the way I see it.”