Monday, April 27, 2020

More lockdown musings - how would you want to be remembered?

What's the opposite of having your cake and eating it?  Having your boat and not being able to access it, that's what.  How lovely it would have been in this fine weather we've been having to moor up in a quiet spot in the sticks and potter about on the boat.  However CRT say's NO so we can't.  I would mind so much except we left some things on the boat that we could do with at home - some tools, my kitchen blowtorch, some books I need etc.  That's the trouble with having a boat and a house, you either have to have two sets of everything, e.g saucepans, spanners etc, or carry everything back and forth as you move from one to the other. Never mind, when at last some sort of slackening in lockdown rules comes along, maybe it'll allow us to do some sort of boating or even just visit the boat to check on it and bring a few things back home.

To keep my joints from seizing up and my brain from addling further, I've been doing daily walks around the churchyard behind our house and reading more of the gravestones.  What begins to strike you after a while is the place of women in society.  You can't help feeling that they are treated as property. The gravestone always says Joe Bloggs and his beloved wife Mary.  Never Mary Bloggs and her beloved husband Joe - no matter who died first.  One grave even called the lady the man's 'relict' - apparently an old term for widow.  Will things ever change I wonder or shall we have Philip Duke of Edinburgh and his beloved wife Elizabeth?

I think it's a pity that except for high falutin types , the gravestones never tell us anything about the occupants except dates of birth and death and sometimes that they died peacefully.  Some even say so and so 'fell asleep' which strikes me as somewhat alarming.  I would have though interment was a bit over the top as a treatment for drowsiness.

I recall seeing gravestones in Bedford indicating that occupants had been killed in an air crash, and at another cemetery in Gairloch, Scotland indicating people who had perished in various shipwrecks.  At least that tells us something about them.  I think maybe the stones ought to record the person's occupation, or some achievement no matter how humble.  Even a simple 'gardener' or 'shopkeeper' would tell us something.  Of course many people don't strongly identify with their occupation.  I doubt anyone would want 'Telephone Sanitiser' or 'Credit Controller' on their gravestone.  They'd be happier  to cite their hobby, something like ' Ballroom Dancer' or 'Sheffield Wednesday Supporter'. Come to think of it I can't think of anything suitable for my own stone except perhaps 'Dabbler in odd things.'   I suppose I could legitimately claim 'Author' or 'Third rate musician' but that would hardly describe my life any more than 'Boat Skipper' would.  How about 'He tried to keep people amused' ?

Anyhow maybe that'll give you something to mull over regarding your own epitaph while we wait to be set free.  All suggestions for yourself or anyone else are welcome.

PS A recent time filler amongst friends has been to list songs that mention the name of a US State. No googling allowed. Apparently Google leads you to '21 songs that name drop Utah'  but none of us could think of any. I got to 27 states then ran out of ideas.  BTW the old Perry Como "What did Della Wear "is not allowed. That would be cheating.


Unknown said...

Fallen asleep is Biblical phraseology. When Stephen was stoned to death for his faith in Acts 7 it says he 'fell asleep' when he died. The same terminology is used in I Corinthians 15 where 'fallen asleep' describes those who have died, so very appropriate for a churchyard!

Mike Todd said...

If you are looking for something to fill your time you could transcribe the gravestones and add them to FindAGrave website. Not as easy as it seems at times.

Herbie Neil said...

Ooh Mike, never heard of that, but I'm told there someone locally who has been documenting them. I'll take a look. Lots of the stones in 'our' graveyard are sadly eroded beyond legibility.

Vallypee said...

I think you could legitimately have 'author of two 5 star novels' on your gravestone, Neil, as well as your 'dabbler in odd things'. Graveyards are fascinating places. I find them remarkably peaceful spots most of the time, but yes, you're right about women. They were rather considered to be their husband's chattels, weren't they? I hope that's changed on the modern grave, if there be such a thing.