The story is incredible. Scattered all over London are cemeteries known as the Magnificent Seven. The most famous one is the Highgate Cemetery. More than anything else, it offers a strange and creepy peek into the lives (no, the deaths) of people. The saddest ones are often the ones of little children. But mostly the cemetery is near derelict. The graves are ornate, the memorials tall and they spill with verbosity. But trees grow in absurd spots. They crowd over the headstones, pulling them in various directions.
There was also this dark sense of comedy that hit us. Like this twin headstone, of a husband and wife. The wife appears to have died a year before the husband. For some reason, the wife’s epitaph states “Loved by Many”, but the husband’s reads “Loved by All”.
But both rr and I fell in love with a rather simple one that had the word DEAD on it, but no name or date. The sheer simplicity and anonymity of that grave was compelling. Like some person’s last joke. And another, which had us giggling, making us look extremely inappropriate – Gordon Bell. (Middle name Ernest, though he placed no importance on it).
The headstones of important people who died in the 19th century – or the first half of the 20th century were covered with platitudes. A good husband, great leader, member of so and so council. Line after line. But the more recent the grave, the simpler things got. For instance, the one for Douglas Adams has nothing but his name on it. But the most visible one is the memorial for Karl Marx. For some reason, the head bust looks extremely unpleasant.
The overwhelming essence of the Gothic touch has a macabre feeling about it. Well, I guess no cemetery is cheerful. But as the headstones go green with moss and tumble one over the other, the place almost feels like a woodland. We even spotted a fox – furry and plump sitting and staring at us.
And for some reason that brings me to the idea of Legend Tripping. Which sounds so marvelous. Even as a phrase.