steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

A Post without a Theme

i) My mother showed me the Grove Park Jubilee Anthology - a collection of poems written between 1896 and 1946 by pupils at her Wrexham grammar school. It includes three poems by her: a Keatsian pastiche addressed to a cello, a poem about "stooking" (something she did as part of her "bit" during the summer holidays, sharing the fields with Italian prisoners of war), and this one, which I include not so much for its quality as poetry - though I like the sly satirical note in the last line - as for its 1941 topicality:

2013-04-02 12.55.16
2013-04-02 12.55.46

ii) The green space in front of Romsey Abbey used to be a graveyard. It still is, in the sense that there are scores of dead bodies buried there, but in the early '60s the gravestones - mostly 18th century - were taken down so as to open the space to the living. Many's the time I played on the Abbey Green, for my primary school ran on one side of it, and home was just five minutes' walk away. They did leave a couple of box tombs at the edge, which I suppose would have been hard to move (but good for hide and seek); and I understand one family objected to the removal of their loved one's gravestone, so that was spared. It stood there solitary towards the back of the field throughout my childhood. Then it was vandalized and the carious stump sat for several years more. Finally it was removed altogether, family objections or no - though whether by the church or some less official vandals, I'm not sure. I can find no trace of it today.

Generally, I'm all in favour of giving the living priority - let the dead bury their dead, and all that - but I jib at what they did with the gravestones...

2013-04-01 16.18.04

That's right - they laid them all in the shape of a cross, around another, standing cross. I suppose it seemed a clever wheeze at the time - and as a child I took it for granted - but now it strikes me as being a really bad idea. Not only do I feel queasy standing on other people's gravestones, but in the intervening fifty years or so feet, rain and frost have worn away all but the deepest inscriptions. Occasionally you'll trip over an hourglass or a skull, but names and dates are largely gone. And the stones, which were never meant for paving, have begun to break up anyway, as you can see. It looks horrible - but is it unique? I've never seen another arrangment like it, but maybe graveyards were being given this treatment all over England back in the '60s?

iii) The electricians who came to fix my mother's outside light are based in the nearby village of Baddesley, not Ampfield (a couple of miles away). But they call themselves Ampfield Electronics: "Because it sounds more electrical". Subliminal advertising is alive and well in rural Hampshire.

iv) Finally, thanks to Cheryl Morgan for alerting me to this manga - which I so want to exist on the other 364 days of the year, and not just April 1st. Won't someone make it happen?
Tags: family history, links, real life
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