I went for my usual Christmas ramble up to the old church yard and for a festively morbid and quiet wander around the gorgeously decayed Victorian memorials and monuments. At this time of year its eerily wonderful, like stepping into a M. R James tale or into the mind of an obsessive Anne Rice fan. The area is one of those wonderful things about living in a country that’s so rich in history, mostly though we’re either totally ignorant of it being in our locality and on our doorstep or we just take it for granted, which is rather tragic.
The church tower is around 14th Century other parts are 16th and 19th century additions and behind the church sits a man made hill where once a Norman motte and bailey castle stood. The Norman’s built that shortly after William the Bastard’s ‘Harrying of the North’ and it was intended to guard the strategic crossing over the river that now flows just a minute’s walk from my home. I often pootle up to sit and take in the view of the modern city.
On this occasion though my usually quiet walk was somewhat ruined by the sight of a hundred parked cars awaiting their owners in the rarely packed church car park. Anyway the Church looked just fantastic with the stained glass illuminated by candles, the grim silhouette of the building looked both foreboding and welcoming cast against the grey darkening skies. So I wandered over and as I did so the sound of choral & carol singing gently greeted me, it felt as though I was intruding in some seasonal and rather middle class fantasy… naturally I wanted in! But sadly the doors to the Church were barred and no one was answering my pitiful tapping on them So I ended up reduced to my usual state of being on the outside looking in, tsk, ruddy typical.
In the end I kicked around the tombstones for a bit until it got very dark and I ran the risk of looking a bit odd frankly, stomping around a graveyard on my lonesome in a bit of a huff, also it didn’t help that I kept thinking I was doing everything that the protagonists in almost all M. R James stories do to come to a sticky end, namely mindlessly poking around graves and monuments and that started to creep me out, then the owls came out and I scrambled back to civilisation and homewards.
So that was my kick ass Xmas eve, locked out of a church, wandering around graves and frightening myself. Good old fashioned wholesome fun. Currently I’m listening to the Hextalls, The Leftovers & the Unlovables whilst fighting off the excesses of Christmas dinner and wondering why I’m being so damn anti-social when I’m surrounded with family.