Death in Norwood
I may be right and I may be wrong
You are going to miss me when I’m gone
Adelaide’s future mother in law,Sue , gave me a darling book for my birthday. London’s Cemetries. All 124 of the capital’s valleys of death are listed and described in beautiful detail. Top of the list are the magnificent seven built by those magnificent Victorians with their regally inspired love affair with death and its powerful sting. Kensal Green,Highgate,Nunhead,Brompton,Abney Park,West Norwood and Tower Hamlets massive acre sites built between 1837 and 1841 to keep pace with the metropolis’ fast growing death rate.
So its off to West Norwood a few stops away by over ground rail. Of particular interest are the graves of writers Douglas Jerrold and Isabella Beaton. Jerrold lived for many years in Putney his house “the last in London” was knocked down to became a hospital and now is being converted into a primary school. A successful playwright and Punch journalist it was because of him that Dickens visited Putney several times.
Its a lovely day and the mature trees and overgrown plots are a dappled dream. I don’t find the desired graves but I find those Sir Hiram Maxim of machine gun fame and the delightful terracoota mausoleums of Sir Henries Tate and Doulton.
This is not Brompton with its sexual encounters or Highgate with its crocodiles of left wing tourists. Norwood is deserted. Brilliant. Time to reflect on how we who love our poetry and songs fail to give death the justice it surely deserves.
Typically Gwen is a beloved wife,mum and nan; unmarried Conrad a loving son,brother,nehew and cousin;Ralph a beautiful memory forever in our thoughts; Helen along with many others rests in peace;Rose and Alfred join many in being reunited in heaven. So many falling asleep, so many passing away. All are promised never to be forgotten, always in someone’s heart.
But the grave stones so expensive and once loved tell a different story. They now stand disabled and bent, unread and unreadable. Graves in the end go the way of all flesh, dust to dust. No one dare say, when you are gone you are gone , and we carry on the best we can.
But some graves do tell stories. Pamela Walsh was born August 21 1963 and died thirty year later. Someone the day before had celebrated her birthday and flags, children’s decorations and baubles floated gaily around her grave. One heart was still remembering a life cut short.
Near the exit stood the military grave of Lt. Taylor of the Royal Engineers who died 8/11/18.Three days before the end of the Great War. Is there a God? Give me a break.