I have to say a very big Happy Birthday to father of dovegreyreader The Tinker who is eighty-four years young today.
If the day goes to plan, Bookhound and I will nip into town for the first Book Fair of the year and then collect The Tinker and bring him back to have lunch with us. He's quite capable of driving but there will doubtless be some toasting of his good health with a wee dram or three so I'll get him home again because I'll be the sober one.
The Tinker and I went out for walk this week, gloriously warm sunny day and I'll warrant it might seem a bit of a morbid place to take your dad in the week of his umpteeforth birthday, but this is The Tinker and we had been promising ourselves a trip to explore Tavistock's original old cemetery in Dolvin Road. There's nothing we like more than a good wander around a cemetery and this is one which we've all walked past for thirty years and never set foot in, and with it came a different view of familiar buildings, there's the Town Hall in the background and the Auction Rooms in the foreground with the unseen River Tavy in front.
'Don't I bring you to some nice places' I said and we laughed.
The Dolvin Road Cemetery no longer in regular use (other than for access to family vaults we think) and dates from the 1830s, though may have been used earlier for plague victims, but we did find the very first burial dated 1831 and I've had a great time doing some online research into it all. Perhaps this confirms the local story that the family of Eliza Robjohns headed for the Antipodes and planted the eucalyptus tree nearby in memory of their daughter.
You wonder how it's possible to enjoy yourself wandering around a cemetery but we couldn't help but ponder all the deaths and their stories. There was something going round in about 1850, they were dropping like flies and we wondered was this the Tamar Valley typhoid and cholera epidemic, then what about all Eliza's little babies and then Eliza herself ?
The trees are magnificent, great vast sweeping yews and cedars, the sort you only seem to see in old churchyards or Hotel Endsleigh-like places down here these days.
A great deal of restoration and preservation work has been done here in recent years, collapsing graves and trees in need of care and attention all meant it was closed to the public for a while, but now sporting a fenced walkway which we looked over our shoulders and then ignored for a better look at all the names and places on the headstones.
Had either of us disappeared into a vault we'd have reported back what we could see before being rescued.
I was imagining them all reading Jane Austen and the Brontes, the Tinker said they probably couldn't read.
He was busy imagining King Charles hiding up a tree and bemoaning that if it was raining anywhere in his kingdom it would be raining in Tavistock. This is all a mish-mash of truth because King Charles did hide in a tree somewhere in the country and he did visit the town in 1644 and he did say that about the weather, but perhaps didn't have knowledge of this exact tree. So all in all we'd invented some fascinating histories for all these people by the time we reached the far end, and look, here's one for 'anyone who lives in Tooting'..
...shouldn't take long to find.
The Tinker was born at 1 Holderness Road and grew up in Woodbury Street Tooting, so he has an affinity and is now frankly amazed to see that those houses now fetch £300,000, and that's just for the ground floor. A week's rent in 2009 would have bought three of them in 1929.
Here is The Little Tinker on his grandad's lap in the garden of 5 Woodbury Street, probably 1929-30 in the days when gardens looked like this.
That pigeon loft's probably on the market for 200k now and I suspect the Tinker would verify it was far more comfortable than the house, but as he says 5 Woodbury Street for all its tin baths and sculleries was home.
Too late for the carpet of crocuses in the cemetery and too early for the bluebells but then suddenly we came upon a grave that told its own story.
"by the accidental discharge of his companion's Gun while assisting to pull it over the fence"
That tragedy just makes this Gamekeeper household shudder, the home where gun safety is like a religion and an unbroken gun anathema.
I discover that anathema is Latin for 'doomed offering' and that was certainly the case for young John. Beneath that inscription the verse, and you can only begin to imagine what a distraught day that must have been for the Seccombe family in 1852 to cause them to place this cautionary tale on John's headstone.How amazing too that we and now you have stood witness to this family tragedy in front of John Seccombe's gravestone some 160 years later, and I have found out a good deal more since so some flesh on John's bones (sorry) soon.
But I digress and must away to help light eighty-four candles.