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Monday, 19 March 2012

...She electrified the ordinary.


Original picture courtesy of Les Bessant.


Good grief, I find that this is my 600th post.   "I have wasted my life!"   ;)

I have tried to resurrect a fallen blog-post, and I have failed - This is long, read it and weep.   I did!   (Not really).

Indelible, Miraculous



friend, think of your breath
on a cold pane of glass

you can write your name there
with an outstretched finger

or frosted, untouched grass
in the early morning, a place

where you can dance alone
leave your footprints there

a deep pool of silver water
waits for you to make waves

the beach is clean after the storm
the tide has washed away yesterday

we all matter, we are all
indelible, miraculous, here
This is Julia Darling's poem, which inspired the title of my 'lost' blog post I was lamenting earlier this weekend.
Since then, there has been much whining into over-filled cups and glasses, but I have got a grip of myself and will be undaunted by the Beast of Blogger.
Nil carborundum illegitemii, as they say in Genoa.   Ooh, that's made me think of cake now!

So, last week I was inspired to take a pleasant walk, having bought a local guide book from the City Library.   On Mondays and Wednesdays I spend some time in the Library lazing, slouching, studying for my course and I occasionally peruse the little book bargains there - At the same time I managed to procure a book for my hubby that concerns 'Disaster Glasses' - Terribly peculiar to the North East, these are the locally made glasses, rather amateurly engraved, which commemorate memorable events, such as pit disasters (hence the name 'Disaster Glasses' silly, do keep up!), drownings, and occasionally something far more pleasant, such as the opening of a bridge!   It wasn't all doom and gloom, whippets and flat-caps oop North, I'll 'ave you know!   The book was £1.   Bargin, innit?!!



Anyhoo, I treated myself to a little giftette for Mother's Day - Doesn't every Mum get herself something?!   No?   Just me then!  
The book I parted with a few scheckels for concerns the history and inhabitants of Jesmond Old Cemetery, near to Newcastle.
The cemetery was set up in the 1830's, as was the famous Highgate in London, to attract the more wealthy paying 'guests', who would reserve plots in the grounds or even in the catacombs, to spend their wee small hours in peace and tranquillity, amid butterflies and birds...
I love old cemeteries, me!   Especially those in Paris.
Armed with the guidebook, I passed through the architect John Dobson's white stone gates and started to walk amid the monuments and graves.   The cemetery has been rather neglected for years, smothered in sharp bracken and greedy ivy and here, an angel with arms outstretched heavenwards had lost her hands.   There a smaller angel stood to attention before the broken gravestone of the man whose tomb she had once stood atop.   I myself was standing at the foot of the largest monument - To Archibald Read, when I was very rudely assailed by The Hound of the Baskervilles!
I stood, rooted to the spot, as a mighty black dog of some description, probably wolfhound crossed with yer actual wolf, via Florida crocodile and Shetland Pony, and here he was lolloping in my general direction,  with intent, long tongue dangling from a mouthful of razorbill teeth, ears flailing, eyes raving!   He looped around me, as I grabbed a pillar of the monument to steady myself.   In the distance The Hoond's owners wandered into view, as he bounded up at me again, then halted sharply as they called his name, rather hoarsely.   I didn't catch his name, the blood was rushing so in my ears!
They saw me rigid there and apologised, chastising The Hoond roundly, heading in a different direction with the Beast, a brown dachshund, for some inexplicable reason on a lead, and another hairy misfit, also leashed...   I called after them, "I thought it was the Hound of the Baskervilles!"   They laughed nervously.   I think I've been watching too much of Jeremy Brett's The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes of a morning, for sure!

Whither The Hoond, I wondered?   
I wandered on, past architect (Dobson) and Victorian philanthropist (Laing), by famous merchants (Fenwicks and Bainbridge's) and someone who at one time was the fattest man in Britain, landlord of the Duke of Wellington in the city.   There was even a famous artist, whose resting spot I never found.


I found the day mild and the company fascinating.   The earth was moist underfoot, anticipating the warmth of spring to come.   The air stood still, and the silence was only broken as bracken crackled in my path and snagged at my legs.   Midges buzzed around me, full of life and as annoying as hell.   A raven cawed.

More recently brought to earth, here was a former SAS soldier whose stone was marked "Connie", for his name had been Peter William Francis.   I chuckled at a memory that was not mine, but I felt privileged to share - In the midst of life, etc...

What caught my eye as I moved through the newly emerging stones, as much work is ongoing to resurrect the cemetery to something of its former glory, a table-like mild grey stone caught my eye.   Here, the writer and poet Julia Darling was buried in 2005.   She was 48.   My own age.   Cancer carried her from the world, leaving two daughters from her marriage, and her partner of 15 years, Bev.   Julia's grave carries that eternal symbol of the sisterhood of women...


I traced it with my fingers.   Julia's words, winding their way around the stone, chosen by her, intrigued me - "We all matter, we are all / indelible, miraculous, here..."
As we are.   And on that note, I shall draw matters to a close here with her poem End, which foreshadowed her sad but accepting exit, so it happens...


For more information on the bold Julia, click HERE.   I hope I haven't made you sad with my long blog...


Anyway, Easter - or Ostara - is just around the corner and I've seen some springy new lambs already, so all's right with the world, non?!

End

Eventually, I was placed on a bed like a boat
in an empty room with sky filled windows,
with azure blue pillows, the leopard-like quilt.
It was English tea time, with the kind of light
that electrifies the ordinary. It had just stopped raining.
Beads of water on glass glittered like secrets.
In another room they were baking, mulling wine.
I was warm with cloves, melting butter, demerara,
and wearing your pyjamas.   My felt slippers
waited on the floor. Then the door opened
soundlessly, and I climbed out of bed.
It was like slipping onto the back of a horse,
and the room folded in, like a pop up story
then the house, and the Vale. Even the songs
and prayers tidied themselves into grooves
and the impossible hospital lay down its chimneys
its sluices, tired doctors, and waiting room chairs.
And I came here.       It was easy to leave.




9 comments:

Scriptor Senex said...

Worth the effort of rewriting, Fhina. Congratulations on your 600th post. And you certainly haven't wasted your life when you have enhanced ours. (At least, I hope you won't think enhancing my life has been a waste of time!)

I love old cemeteries but it's rare to find a guide.

And what a wonderful quote - "We all matter, we are all / indelible, miraculous, here..."

Vix said...

Worth all those tears, Fhina! Although Julia's words brought a tear to me eye I loved every word.
I'm a huge fan of graveyards, too. Can't resist them. xxx

Suldog said...

Congratulations upon reaching #600. Not many do so. Nor do many do so with such elan, I might add.

I, too, love a good graveyard. The general peace (when hounds are not about), the beautiful monuments, the untold stories...

Dragonfly Dreams said...

What a beautifully written post! Thank you!

theothersideofparis said...

Hearty congrats on your 600th blogpost!

BadPenny said...

A lost post and 600th too bugger.
Beautiful poems and you have reminded me to get on & try to organise the postponed bloggers' outing to Highgate cemetry ( what a funny lot we are some meet for vintage fairs & I want to go to Highgate ! )

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Damn it! My heart goes out to you but I tell you I loved reading this post, especially about the disaster glasses from oop North! xoxo

Clippy Mat said...

What a lovely read this Monday morning with my first coffee as I pry myself awake. I've never been to Jesmond cemetery (must remedy that next visit ower hyem) and I would have fainted on the spot if I'd seen that hound loping towards me! You gave me a lovely picture of your visit there.
Congrats on the 600th post.

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