4PM Thursday 7th June 2012 Nunhead Heights
There was a dude on the BBC programme last night – the documentary on what The Greenwich Council did to Deptford High Street. I’m pretty sure he was from The Council. That kind of man is always from The Council.
He was explaining why The Council tore down a beautiful and alive neighborhood and put something new, and definitely not better, in it’s place. I watched for a few minutes. Okay, less than a minute. I had to turn it off as it was too painful.
The Council dude seemed ignorant.
Mark Twain noted that “an ignorant person is some who doesn’t know what you just learned.” Now we know that those slummy houses were beautiful and chaotic neighbourhoods are the ones worth living in. At least I hope we do.
There is forest in southern Southwark.
Southwark is the neighboring Council to Greenwich. A wood grows above the abandoned graves in Camberwell Old Cementery. Southern Southwark is burial ground for burials with our three cemeteries. All are owned by The Council. Why The Council has to own cemeteries is another question, but they do. The Council owns maybe half of all the homes in the borough, too.
Something happened in the last few years. Burials had fallen out of fashion in favour of cremations. Lately, the people of Southwark decided they wanted their loved ones buried. Maybe there was a fancy funeral on Eastenders and now the middling and lower classes want burials, too. [Update 9 June 2012: I have been told that burials in Southwark’s cemeteries are “static” by Cllr. Victoria Mills.]
The Council is planing to cut down the trees above 3300 graves in Camberwell Old Cemetery, add a metre of dirt and bury maybe 3300 more dead. Do the maths: 3300 times 3 feet wide by 7 feet long, and the space in-between and you are talking about a lot of trees and a lot of wood. A wood where my kids picked berries and learned to read by looking at fallen tombstones.
The only way The Council can get revenue for its cemeteries is by burying the newly dead. And The Council makes the middling and the lower classes happy by providing affordable places to bury their dead. Win-win. The Council is voting on it on 22nd June.
Perhaps in twenty years the BBC will make a documentary on the destruction of the wood. They will bring The Council dude to the scene of the crime and show him photos of the wonderful forest in the middle of London and compare it with the ugly ignored graves of the recently dead. [BTW: You would be surprised how quickly people forget to visit their loved ones.]
The Council dude will shrug.
“We did what we thought was best for the people of Southwark” Or “We did what the people of Southwark asked us to do.” “It was always meant to be a cemetery.” Or the ever popular: “We did a consultation.”
And I won’t be able to watch that programme, either. It’ll be too painful. But at least I will have some satisfaction in saying “I wasn’t ignorant.”
[Hypocrisy Alert: I buried my mother in a cemetery in an ‘inner city” suburb on Staten Island”.]
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