It was a cold wet day. Typical weather for a funeral.

However, many of the graveside mourners were smiling as the coffin was lowered into the ground at the back of a house in Malvern Mews, north London.

There was also a brass band on hand as Michael Meany was laid to rest. But Michael was far from dead.

The 33 year-old barman was starting the first in a toe-curling 61 day internment in his attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records for being buried alive.

The thought is enough to make most of us break into a cold sweat but Michael was well prepared.

The lid of his foam-lined coffin was fitted with books, magazines and a torch, while two pipelines provided him with air, food and a means to communicate with the world above.

A doctor provided him with a high calorie diet and friends kept a round-the-clock vigil nine feet above ground in case of trouble. He even had his favourite tipple, stout, piped down to him.

Michael bide farewell to well-wishers in February, 1968, wearing his favourite green pyjamas and clutching a crucifix.

Two months later an expectant crowd waited outside as the coffin was exhumed and Michael emerged to roars of congratulations.

The Irishman and his coffin were paraded in triumph through Kilburn’s crowded streets on the way to a reception at the Admiral Duncan pub where he was met by blonde actress Diana Dors.

Doctors were amazed he’d suffered no ill effects from his internment, but the coffin man from Kilburn took success in his stride.

“It was no problem, he said. “I could have stayed down there another hundred days.”

The current record is 150 days held by Geoff Smith from Mansfield, England.

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