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Day 127, Part 1: Catchup on the Side...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Maybe not on the side, exactly. More like front and center.

First, a few photos (and comments - when do I ever miss the chance to editorialize?) from the visit to George the other day.

I've described and taken pictures of the small WWI section before. The flowers are changed throughout the season - it's the one place where the graves are neatly trimmed and maintained, and where the flowers are kept fresh. As they 'go by' and begin to fade, they are removed and new ones planted, so there are always flowers and color.

I think these are a type of bluet, tho there are forget-me-nots as well. The forget-me-nots are a paler blue, which leads me to think these are bluets.

I'm not sure why but there are quite a few Canadians buried in the local cemetery. While there were many who were buried in the military cemeteries in France, not many non-Brits were buried in England, and I would expect to find more such graves in and around places like London, or even Southampton, where many of them shipped out. But there was a large military base near Warrington, so perhaps some Canadian troops were stationed there and the wounded brought back to base, but those who died were interred locally. It's a guess, but seems logical. At any rate, there are at least a half-dozen Canadian maple-leaf stones, so certainly they were here in some numbers.

We continue:

I'm not sure how well this will show up, as it's partially against some dark foliage. It's a beautiful Celtic cross - not at all old, as it's late Victorian, but the engraving was done well.

I took the next picture just to try to give an idea of how crowded the cemetery is in places. Many of the churchyards and public cemeteries are just like this, with the graves cheek-by-jowl; many graves have several members of the same family interred together. This was pre-cremation (cremations took place, but not often) so I'm guessing they are kind of... stacked? I don't contemplate that any too closely!

The next one is just a quick shot of the fountain. I'm always glad to see it working, as for several years when I came here it wasn't. Unlike the last spring visit, tho, the fountain's basin was nearly empty. Whether they're working on filling it or not I don't know. It would be nice to think it may be connected to a pipeline for irrigation in some areas - it's been very dry here in recent months, and there have been some notices about decreasing water usage.

I've talked about the baby garden before, what a lovely concept it is and how pretty that area is. Last year there was a lot of overgrowth in parts of it, with several of the bushes allowed to get too big. I suppose at some point it can become a security issue: I haven't read of anyone being attacked or anything, and many of the locals use the grounds as a shortcut to and from some of the stores and offices. There has been a lot of vandalism, tho, and it seems to be on the increase - more about that later. Meanwhile, since the shrubs in the baby garden have been severely cut back there are quite a few 'bald patches' and stumps that haven't filled in, so while I walked around it I only took a picture of the gate.

It's a poignant place, a small park unto itself with pinwheels and toys and bright, colorful flowers. Inevitably at least one or two graves will have helium balloons, perhaps to mark a birthday. This is the only part of the cemetery where I've never seen any vandalism - who would have the heart? - and I've thought more than once how pretty it would be to have a small fountain here, with the sound of splashing water. But I fear that would entice vandals to this section, as it's not easily seen until you're inside it, as there's a fence marking it from the rest of the cemetery, and in places bushes and shrubs around the perimeter. So perhaps it's better not to put one here. Pity.

Onward: the laburnum is in bloom. Some varieties have scent, some don't. I don't know much about laburnum; it's fairly ubiquitous here. There is a Victorian estate in North Wales (Bodnant Garden) that has a long alleyway arched over with laburnum. When it's in blossom it's an incredible sight, but I don't remember it having the scent of the wisteria walkway we saw at Tatton the other day.

Much like wisteria, it can be trained to grow along walls (espaliered), or grown as vines, or trimmed and allowed to grow into trees - very striking.

Last but not least, a graphic image of vandalism:

This one galls me. I can't tell most stone apart, whether they be granite, shale, what have you. I can spot marble, if it's very obvious, and sometimes sandstone, but the rest are what they are. So I don't know what type of stone this particular monument is. There are quite a few of this style and this color - this stone - in the cemetery: they mostly date from anywhere thru the Victorian age, up to about the turn of the 20th century. They don't weather. They are as readable now as they probably were when they were first engraved. And they don't break: they don't seem to be subject to cracks where water gets in and freezes, prizing the stone apart.

What happened here is clear. Someone tried to push it over. You'll see entire sections like this all over the cemetery, and it's not an isolated case - many public cemeteries, even the fenced and gated ones, suffer this kind of damage. Usually the gravestones topple over from the base, and in many cases need to be put upright and resecured to their foundations. This one was so strongly rooted it broke rather than toppling over.

[This is not to imply that the Brits have the corner on mindless vandalism and destruction: the US is just as prone, and unfortunately it's on the increase there as well - certainly I saw signs of it during the last couple of visits I made, not just in cemeteries, but in a couple of public parks.]

Several years ago Himself owned a couple of small shops in Manchester, shops with small apartments - flats - above. He rented them out, one to a hair salon, the other to a small news agency. It seemed as tho every other week the shopkeepers (who lived in the flats above their businesses) would report windows being broken out on the second story. The shops had metal shutters that were pulled down at close of business, so those windows were protected. (Plus of course it added a measure of security against robberies.) But since the upstairs had living quarters, the windows were uncovered, and during the day - when the business owners had their shops open, 'kids' would throw stones at the windows, breaking out the glass.

The shopkeepers would contact Himself, who would call the police to file a report, so that insurance would cover the cost of replacement windows - and eventually, the glass was all replaced with some kind of acrylic or polymer, totally impervious to breakage. Which is fine as far as that went, but a shame that it got to that point. At any rate, I was discussing this with an officer one time and asked him why he thought it kept happening - the 'kids' in the neighborhood who were seen doing the damage (not that anyone was going to name names or anything, you understand) were elementary school age, with perhaps one or two slightly older, around 11 or 12.

The officer said 'Well, they're bored, you know. They don't have anything to do, and when they come home from school their parents tell them to "Go out and play" or what have you. Since there's nothing to do, they get up to mischief, breaking windows, writing on walls with paint or markers, breaking up fences and scratching cars. They're just bored.' I said 'How much fun can breaking windows be? Over and over? It's not like they're breaking the windows and getting in to rob the places.'

And I still don't see the point. I could understand stickball in the street, or even the Brit equivalent of 'sandlot baseball,' with 'football in the street' (meaning soccer, of course, as it's known as football here). Most of the kids had bikes, so surely if their parents could afford to give them bikes they could afford a cheap soccerball, or even a cricket bat-and-ball. If these kids were paid by the local glazier (!) to break windows so business would increase with glass replacement, even that would be a point - not one I'd agree with, lol, but there'd be a reason. But no, it was just so much 'fun' to break windows, be a nuisance, annoy hard-working people, and see the police come running for a necessary but useless report.

So I guess it's 'fun' to go into cemeteries and push over gravestones and spraypaint on monuments and desecrate graves. Some fun.

Am I in danger of turning into a grumpy old woman? I'm not sure I would've understood the 'fun' in meaningless destruction when I was in my teens, let alone now. I don't think I was any less observant then, and if there'd been a lot of damage and vandalism, I think I would've noticed. Oh, sure, you would see graffiti (not quite as artistic, perhaps) and defacing in public places but it was generally in urban areas, not small towns or more rural places.

Anyhow, rant over for today. My little phone alarm (I LOVE this phone!) just went off to tell me it's WiiFit time, plus I need to get some things done this morning as we have our Senior Fitness back today. This is the next-to-last meeting, and while my back is up to it, Himself is struggling a bit today. He was helping me get some things out of the closet yesterday, off one of the high shelves, and I think he should've used the stepladder: he's tall and decided he could reach without, but EYE think it meant he was lifting things (not heavy, but with some weight to them) over his head, requiring his back muscles as opposed to leg or shoulder muscles.

It wouldn't hurt him to say 'You were right, wife' occasionally, lol...

Have a good 'un, peeps - back L8R!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog, as usual...always a good read and I loved the pictures. There's a church cemetery on Bachman Valley Rd. that has an old tombstone with a wispy pink rosebush growing around it. One morning going to work, it was foggy and that stone with the roses looked so eerie!! I would have loved to have gotten a picture of it, but I never have a camera when I need it. It would have been so neat if I could have gotten a black & white picture of it and then color in the pink roses.

    Where I used to live, the big thrill was smashing mailboxes as they drove by in a car. Where I live now, some guy who lives close by decided to run his pickup truck into the group of mailboxes at the end of my lane and smashed our road sign. Then he proceeded to run into single mailboxes on the way home to his house. Our mailbox wasn't touched, which turned out to be unfortunate, because the owners of the damaged boxes each got $300.00 from the guy's insurance company.
    3591 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your photos and the stories. I also have never understood the point of vandalism. Even as a child and teenager, I never understood it or thought it was "fun." There was a serious case of vandalism to a professor's door on campus this past week and I just don't understand it. It was to a poster about an event on campus and it was just horrid. But why wouldn't people respect those who have passed and their families by leaving grave stones alone? I just don't know.

    Anyhow, I hope you have some great exercise today. Have a wonderful weekend! :)
    3592 days ago
    I'm with you... have never understood the "fun" of vandalism. Still, I recall when my son was a teen, if we had anything that needed destroying (for security purposes, physical destruction of magnetic storage media is one disposal option, for example)... he loved getting that job! And I know I love cutting down the weeds.

    But to destroy something beautiful and functional? I just don't get it!

    Great photos, thanks for sharing your corner of the world. Love reading these.

    3592 days ago
    It is a lovely tour--still makes me want to go there!--So much history compared to where I live! --I appreciate the time you took to put it on here! Vandalism happens that! Thanks Kasey!-Lynda emoticon
    3592 days ago
    Lovely tour---have a good day! And I am heading to Longwood Gardens in PA today----thought you might be interested in that.
    On vandalism, thinks it comes from the only time we get any attention is when we are being bad syndrone----too many parents are not interested in being parents anymore.
    3592 days ago
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