A Life in Black and White

by M-Gillies

Alfred David wants a penguin-themed sendoff including a burial at sea amongst the penguins in Antarctica.

In the last decade penguins have been making quite a cultural impact around the world. With movies like Surf’s Up, March of the Penguins, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Happy Feet one and two; the knighthood of Nils Olav, the King Penguin living in Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, or the recent photos by Daniel J. Cox capturing the flightless birds in a state of mourning, it seems that penguin fever has run rampant in the headlines.

However, for Alfred David, a 79-year-old pensioner living in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, penguins aren’t simply just a passing interest but a full-blown obsession. Known throughout the community as Mr. Penguin or Monsieur Pingouin, David’s interests in penguins has left him wanting a unique sendoff for his death.

With a headstone already shaped in the form of two penguins, David has decided that his coffin will be penguin-shaped and lined with a penguin print. But it doesn’t end there. The man many have come to know as a local eccentric has also decided that he wants to be buried in his favorite penguin suit, and it’s not a tuxedo.

Throughout Brussels, David is well known as Mr. Penguin, and while tourists who may catch a glimpse of him walking down the street may think he’s on his way to a costume party, the locals know the true history of the man. Fully aware of his idiosyncrasies, David admits that what once started as a hobby became a collection, then blossomed into a passion before becoming an obsession. In fact, it has gotten to the point where David, while out strolling the streets, can instantly be recognized for his hooded black-and-white penguin costume, an outfit that he confidently wears with pride.

For the last 40 years of David’s life, the man has been collecting penguin paraphernalia; everything from portraits of penguin to lavatory paper, cups and toys. Beginning in May of 1968, after David was in a car accident which resulted in an injured hip, he became known amongst his friends and colleagues as Mr. Penguin for how his limp appeared more like a waddle. Though the less humorous would find offence at such a nickname, it was, for David, the catalyst of a life-long obsession which would eventually see him and his 3,500 items linked to penguins shown the door after he told his wife he wanted to change his name to Mr. Penguin.

While David has made numerous guest appearances on television documentaries and shows, as well as receiving a special guest invitation to the 1992 Amsterdam premiere of Batman Returns, where he met Danny DeVito, who portrayed the villain The Penguin, David’s interest to date is fulfilling his sendoff wishes. With a firm belief on reincarnation, David hopes for a sea burial in the icy waters of the Antarctic.

“My ultimate dream is to be buried in a deep ocean close to where penguins live,” he said. “But after I die, I won’t really be dead. Go to any zoo in any country, Belgium, Germany, England. Go and see the penguins and call out “Alfred!” – if one comes running, that’ll be me.”

Read more:

Penguin Obsessed Pensioner want to be buried in Antarctica | Female First

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