Brompton Cemetery review (Nov 2013)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
I wouldn't categorise myself as Mr Jolly. I prefer a deluge of rain to a bit of sunshine, so when the sun comes out I have to balance it out with a trip to Brompton Cemetery. The dead don't care if the sun is shining. When you spend all day fast asleep in your muddy bed it doesn't matter what the sky upstairs is doing.
It's like a zoo isn't it. It's a bit like London Zoo sitting here in the sun. People gawping at all the creatures in their cages and here I am, gawping at the corpses in theirs. What a lazy life they lead. No TV, no radio. Just the sounds of distant drilling and an occasional plane high overhead. And people like me tramping over their tombs just to be nosey. Slowly being entombed again, by the weeds and autumnal leaves.
You can tell which ones died recently because the grass is still mowed over. The little coloured pebbles have been lovingly raked into straight lines. But their next-door neighbours have let themselves go. They haven't kept up with the Joneses. Once the weeds have gotton hold then you are doomed. You can hardly see where you're stepping most of the time because the place is so thick with weeds and nettles and covered in a blanket of dead, wet leaves. Am I stepping on someone's head? Sorry maam, I say. Sorry sir, I didn't mean to walk on your face. But maybe if you'd taken a bit more care of your pit then I would have seen you. Lazy bones, these corpses. Never get out of bed to do a day's work, even on a nice day like today... wasting their whole lives away. They spend more time in bed than university students.
Not everybody in here is dead. There are quite a few joggers all red-faced and out of breath. They'll end up in here too if they're not careful. This place is probably full of super-fit joggers. Lots of people walking their dogs as well, throwing bones for them to fetch. I spy a council worker having a cheeky fag, tapping happily on his knee as he relaxes on the bench. The pigeons and squirrels are out in force as well, there are millions and bazillions of them all scurrying about looking for something to eat. Pecking at someone's eyeball, or an uprooted bone? Or maybe just a worm (more likely). There's lots of meat buried down there my son, if you dig deep enough. You might even find a few nuts.
I wonder how many people are buried here? Everywhere I look are rows upon rows of graves. Some of them have big monumental crosses on top, and some have actual rooms like big mausoleums. Half of them have headstones but most are just concrete slabs in the grass, slowly titling sideways as the foundations give way. What a way to go... having your own gravestone topple into your coffin. That is really rubbing it in. You truly know that you're dead when your bones are slowly crushed into dust by your own tombstone. Ouch.
It's quiet now. I can hear a low rumble of buses on the street outside, and then it's just me and the breeze.
This one has got a candle on it, it must have been there for about a thousand years judging by the sorry state it's in. Poor old Leon Dunin Wolski. No one gives a toss about you any more, mate. I'm sorry to break it to you, but that's the truth. Not even the groundsman has stopped by in a hundred years. If I had a lighter I might have brought your candle back to life, but I don't smoke so that's it. Sorry fella. Kip on.
Some of the graves have got big iron railings around them so no one can get in. This is my space, it says, my turf, and no one is allowed in. Even in death he is jealously guarding his territory. Well, okay then, I won't come in. You can just have the weeds and leaves for company. What an a-hole! They say that you can't take it with you, but this guy gave it a bloody good go. Big thick nettles and thorns protecting him, like big chains on his door to keep out the living.
This next one says "Albert Druce... fell asleep on 3rd June 1956". Let's hope he really was dead before they dropped him in the hole. I wouldn't like to wake up in a coffin. This next one has got a story to tell... It's got a framed marriage photo of them cutting the cake. They only look like a young couple too, but now here she is, six-foot under, all overgrown and forgotten. She only died in January! It doesn't look like he's been back since so I guess he's found himself another woman. It didn't take him long to get over her death did it. I think you are better off without him, lady.
Do you know what all these corpses have in common? -- They all know whether God exists. They have all dropped dead and discovered the truth. I've got my doubts about the Almighty so I reckon there's a lot of peed-off people in this cemetery... all been robbed of their promises and popped in little boxes of rotting wood. It's like a train station to nowhere. No more trains to heaven, folks, it doesn't exist! You're stuck here forever... end of the line. The priests sold you a pup.
As I was taking a photo just now I caught my shadow on a gravestone -- a full length silhouette of me on a stone grey tomb. I took that as my cue to leave.
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I’ve been here more than once…