Graveyards are strange places, alternately scary, peaceful, depressing, uplifting and full of dead people. I’ve been to a few funerals, mainly Irish Catholic burials with all the pomp and ceremony and the wake. It’s one thing the Irish do well. They celebrate when you’re born, when you marry and when you descend into the sod – all with wild enthusiasm.
I’ve been to a few Church of England cremations; a lot more sedate, serious, with just as much feeling and sense of loss.
In 19th century Dublin, when a man was about to be hung – by the aptly named ‘throttler’ – he was allowed to have his wake in prison before he died. This is a much more satisfactory arrangement. The about-to-be-deceased can get totally shit-faced, banjaxed and inebriated so that the whole execution business passes by in a kind of drunken dream.
What about the epitaph?
I recall this one that always profoundly affected me and still does.
Remember man as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you will be
So remember man and pray for me
Someone is missing a trick for a profitable new product – the recorded epitaph. A sound loop is buried close to the grave triggered by a pressure pad and, as the casual passer-by, well, passes by, the recorded voice bellows from the grave, “Get the hell off my feet. Can’t you see I’m dead? I’ve a good mind to rise up out of this coffin and come after you.”
There could be a huge number of variations of recorded messages and as the casual passer-by, well, passes by grave after grave he or she could trigger a cacophony of dead voices, echoing around the graveyard from the dark beyond – or is that the dark interior.
Then there’s reincarnation.
But that’s another post