Liz and Wad and Paul and I spent our last morning together at Highgate Cemetry (East). The famous burial ground is not far from Julie and Chris’s house, so we walked there and back before setting off for home. After a little fuss from PB about the entrance fee, we entered the Victorian graveyard that received it’s first body (that of a 16 year old baker’s daughter) in 1860. During the year I studied as a PhD student I was instructed on the teachings of Karl Marx, also buried here. Being a history teacher, Wad offered his account of Marx’s life, which was far more animated and interesting than my philosophy class! He told us…Karl Marx was a German ‘thinker’ and was influenced by Russian peasants and their rough deal in life. He believed that religion was used by the wealthy and elite to control the poor. He challenged capitalism and encouraged the manual workers of the world to participate in violent uprisings to change things. Marx had to leave his native land and he came to England. After visitng Salford he wrote ‘Das Kapital’. He was interred at Highgate with his wife and grandchildren, alongside so many other famous individuals. Marx could never have predicted the longevity of his mark on our world.
I always find graveyards interesting. Not because I have a warped or morbid interest in death, but because I like to think that life is utterly meaningful and that each unique person’s contribution should be remembered. We all pondered on various epitaphs, names, sculptures, photographs and messages. How fragile we all are. It was very cold in the graveyard, icy underfoot from the remains of the snow. We noticed a smart dark-haired distinguished looking gentleman walking down the main path with a Harrods bag and a bunch of flowers. He was on his way to tend to a grave, we could sense that, and the grave we were to discover was his son’s. As we passed by we caught his eye and I bid him good morning. The grave he was lovingly caring for was full of flowers and plants, and there was an impressive red rose heart shaped flower arrangment in the middle of the grave with a sash saying ‘Happy Birthday Son’. I commented that the flowers were beautiful. The man looked at me with sad brown eyes and said, ‘well they are for my beautiful son, he deserves them’. I couldn’t hold back the tears as I walked away. The grip of grief was evident in so many ways. The black and white cat stayed close by all the way round. We noticed him about a half way and although he wouldn’t respond to my attempts to stroke him, he walked when we walked and stopped and rested as we took in some of the more interesting engravings. Obviously well cared for, I imagine this little animal has a lot of visitors….maybe some of a different world?