Saturday, 6 August 2016
A Grand Day Out In Durham - 5: Life and Death In St. Margaret's Garth
My day in Durham was providing wonderful surprises. I had just explored the overgrown woods at the edge of Saint Margaret's graveyard. Now I had the rest of the graveyard to wander in. This is not a graveyard of neatly regimented stones, with perfectly tended grass. This is a place where nature has been allowed to take over in places. I loved it.
Yesterday I got carried away with a discussion of death and graves and what rules and customs we have concerning dead bodies and the places in which we put them. Today I'm not going to do any of that. Instead I just want to share photos of Saint Margaret's church yard, Durham.
I recommend that if you're visiting Durham you shouldn't just go to the major tourist spots - the cathedral, castle, museums and so on. Because Durham has at least this one place that the tourists never see. If it has one place it is likely to have many more and in the course of time I'll go back and explore the city more.
For now though, I have memories. And I have photos. Here are a dozen of them. I haven't edited any of them at all - they're just what was taken that day using my phone. You will possibly conclude from these photos and from the previous post that I am a fan of graveyards. You would be correct. I like them a lot.
I do like them. But I do not wish to be buried in one unless it's in one of the schemes where trees are planted on your grave, adding life and beauty to the land. That would be okay. But in general I have an issue with me being buried - in terms of land use and the cost of it all. When I am dead my corpse will be a corpse. It can be disposed of in any way. I'd love for as much as possible of it to be used for transplants, giving life from my death. I wouldn't mind if what was left was taken and used for scientific purposes.
What I would hate would be to have a grave that people would come and visit and lay flowers on. When I am gone, weep not for me. And please don't visit the site of my rotting corpse because I'm not there. When I am gone, I call you to live. Don't worry, I have no plans to die just yet. I'd like to live for a lot of years and have been commanded not to die. In any case, I have a holiday booked with a friend - we want to see in the next millennium in Iceland. It's booked!
I have seen a certain family which has an attitude that I find difficult to watch. The parents in this large family are buried together in a plot in a cemetery. One of them died 29 years ago. I have watched as the children who still live nearby visit the grave. Regularly. They go and tend the grave and add flowers and have done it faithfully for over a quarter of a century. An ancestor worshipping society would be amazed by the depth of devotion they have all showed. If that made them all happy I wouldn't be so worried by their attitude to death and graves. Carry on family! Be happy.
But it doesn't. I have watched them argue with each other. I have watched them bickering and sometimes falling out in bigger ways. I have watched as every single one of them has accused every other one of them. "I go to the grave this much - and they don't." "I buy flowers - and they don't." "They are disrespectful to our parents." Every one of them has said things like that. And it's been a regular thing. If I've met any of them singly it was almost a guarantee that at some point they would be moaning about the rest and about the grave and about "What would dad think of them?"
I have watched all that. Over and over. It makes me sad that they are all so unhappy and that they almost seem to go out of their way to be unhappy and increase the woes and guilt of each other. The deaths of their parents has become an excuse for stabbing each other with words and attitudes.
I'd hate it if anyone behaved that way about my grave. Of course I'd be dead so wouldn't be in a position to do much hating. But the thought appalls me.
When I am gone. No grave stone. No regular visiting for 29 years. No arguing. May as much of my body as possible be used to bring life or as a contribution to scientific research. And then dispose of the rest cheaply. No buying flowers. No gifts for the site of my corpse or remains. If you want to give to my corpse site, please give to the living instead. Don't spend a fiver on some flowers. It might make you feel good but it wouldn't make me feel good. Spend your fiver on feeding the hungry, helping the oppressed. Spend it on being merciful in a world where many need to receive acts of mercy. Let your kind charity be for the living and not for me.
Remember me. But move on. Live your lives to the full and let me go.
Wow. That got a little morbid. Sorry. It was unplanned. Instead of just presenting you with a set of photos you've had to cope with me typing meandering thoughts about death again. I'll try not to mention death in the next post. I'll mention art and badges and Blob Thing and drinks. And a very lovely little cafe that was just the place I needed to be in between graveyard and bus stop.