Teetotal Tommy & some local strumpet

The Hardy Tree fell over in St Pancras Churchyard.

It was covered in the New York Times, Guardian and Camden New Journal.

My good friend Warwick Sweeney’s written a brilliant book with the same name.

As a Hindu reincarnation is a fact of life.

The very fact that in England in the 1840s one wasn’t given a pauper’s funeral and slung in a mass grave like the rest of the lower orders was a sure sign that one (or one’s friends and family) was blessed with cash.

The starving artist could not get bread in his lifetime but when recognised after death would be given a statue made of stone.

The insurance companies such as Victoria and Royal London started off as friendly societies and collected money to pay for funerals to prevent the shame of the mass grave.

I’ve always found the shift from friendly society to corporation interesting. Just as Zuckerberg said in a 2020 earnings call that he no longer wanted to be liked, he wanted to be understood, so too did Facebook evolve from being about friendship to being a stock market listed credit rating agency and all round surveillance capitalism conglomerate.

The Philadelphia Experiment thought was triggered by the line in the poem about human jam. Just as Borges imagined an infinite library with not just all the books but all the books with infinite variations for spelling mistakes, alternative punctuation and indeed every alternative in every way.

here’s the poem:

The Levelled Churchyard


“O passenger, pray list and catch
Our sighs and piteous groans,
Half stifled in this jumbled patch
Of wrenched memorial stones!
“We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear,
‘I know not which I am!’
“The wicked people have annexed
The verses on the good;
A roaring drunkard sports the text
Teetotal Tommy should!
“Where we are huddled none can trace,
And if our names remain,
They pave some path or porch or place
Where we have never lain!
“There’s not a modest maiden elf
But dreads the final Trumpet,
Lest half of her should rise herself,
And half some local strumpet!
“From restorations of Thy fane,
From smoothings of Thy sward,
From zealous Churchmen’s pick and plane
Deliver us O Lord! Amen!”

Here are some pics.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Warwick Sweeney says:

    Thanks – great that this was covered by NYT. Doubt vvmuch that that ash is over 150 yrs old.

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