Very sorry everyone, for another long space between my blogs; but really nothing has happened, and I was really waiting for something interesting to write about.
No! Not the Highgate Vampire – well, having said that, it is in a way. But to start at the beginning, had a visit from Patsy, her friend Rick, Jamie and Gareth, all set to go on the first official tour of Highgate Cemetery. In fact, Jamie and Gareth turned up last night, and I have to confess we all sat around reminiscing with the odd glass of wine. Around eight, Jamie suggested that people might be hungry, and he phoned up and ordered two hot curries for him and myself. Gareth, not being a meat eater (although he does drink the odd drop of blood!) settled for a vegetable curry, which we all enjoyed, with some more wine.
Patsy had booked the tour for eleven a.m., and – as I said – it was the first official tour of the opening season. I suggested, so nobody would be late for Patsy in the morning, they both made themselves comfortable in the back room. That was it, so far, and I went back to doing a few things on the computer while they got themselves to sleep. About four a.m. my friend Della sent me a message saying, had I remembered that the clocks went forward at one? Being my usual truthful self, I e-mailed her back and said, ‘No, I had forgotten all about that.’ I was tempted to go and wake up Jamie and Gareth to tell them, but in the end decided just to let them sleep, and worry about it in the morning.
Patsy turned up on schedule at ten fifteen, and they all had a cup of tea before leaving for the cemetery. Unfortunately, Patsy had forgotten her camera, but luckily Jamie had his mobile phone, and I asked them to get a couple of pictures. I said, I particularly wanted one of Patsy standing outside the Wace family tomb (where all her previous research had led to). Gareth got a ‘surprise’ picture for me himself, which showed him pointing to the grilled gateway below the Julius Beer mausoleum; where ‘Lusia’ had apparently led an intrepid group of self-styled ‘vampire hunters’, who claim that the ‘vampire’ lived inside, and this photograph of her was actually used in a self-published book on the subject released with ‘best-seller’ anticipation, as it claimed to tell the full story of the mysterious Highgate ‘vampire’. (Hmmmm!)
But that aside, Gareth’s picture was very impressive, and I noticed that the old ground entrance to the Julius Beer tomb had changed little since it was first photographed in 1970, showing a ‘posing’ Lusia. While they were there, I also asked Patsy and the rest of them to verify an important point for me. I wanted to know in particular if there were any holes in the roof of the catacomb which could have afforded any legal entry? Patsy and Gareth assured me that, no, this was not the case, as these small portals originally constructed to give a little light, were no more than seven inches in diameter. Apart from this, it was confirmed to me that the distance from the roof of the terraced catacombs to the floor was no more than eleven or twelve feet.
Luckily, although certainly unbeknown to me at the time, I discovered that these terraced catacombs had now been opened to the public – or at least, members who had paid for the official tour. Whatever, it certainly afforded an excellent chance to view the interior of this Victorian monument to the dead. It was good weather, and fairly warm sunshine, and they all had a good opportunity to take in various monuments in the old cemetery. After the hour-long tour had finished, however, they all decided to go and look the eastern cemetery, where the legendary Karl Marx is buried. His monument still stands imposingly not far from the main entrance, and it almost seemed that many of the ground level graves almost encircled the great man’s tomb. They were not too sure if these could have been Marxist supporters anxious to be buried near their great father-figure. They also came across the graves of recent internees, including Jeremy Beadle and Malcolm McClaren, who curiously enough are buried quite close to each other, TV producer Nat Taylor, and comedian Max Wall also shared burial places in the eastern cemetery.
It was now about one, but the day was still young after all. What better way to finish it off than a light lunch in The Flask public house, which, of course, is reputedly haunted!
Jamie set off around 4 as he still had a 2-hour drive left to get home But at least that will be in the new daylight now!