The graveyard had been a sand stone quarry
before Victorian memento mori
filled it. Here were held the obsequies
of gentry and skivvies, cotton kings
and seamen. In the ‘60s, it was unkempt,
the unfinished Anglican Cathedral,
in machine cut sand stone, pristine above it.
The bell ringing practice would start at 9.00
every Saturday morning – the heaviest
eight bell peal in the world. It’s oh so English
chiming cacophony filled the houses
of Liverpool 8’s grand Victorian streets.
So there was never a chance of an
undisturbed lie-in and, anyway, that day,
in an emollient and yet enticing
late May, I was revising for an exam
on teleology or ontology,
or whatever. Fifty years on I forget –
but I do remember that the intense
silence, which usually accompanied
the end of the practice at noon, never
occurred. Instead, there was a murmur –
like pages turned or dried leaves rustled.
Curious, I went out. The cemetery
and the pavements above were filled with
excited children. There were scores of them.
‘Where are you from?’ I asked. ‘Why are you here?’
‘West Derby, Everton Heights, The Dingle –
for the monsters, the fairies, the spirits.’
They were excited but gentle, answering
my questions willingly – exploring
the cemetery with enthusiasm
and care. By twilight, they had all gone.
There was no mention in the local press
and none of the neighbours seemed aware.
Now the cemetery has been largely
landscaped – in effect, evacuated.
A natural spring in the east wall still
pours forth, rising in Edge Hill, emptying
into the river, running beneath
and cleansing the temples of mammon.