May 18th, 2009

me: wrong side of the mirror

Western Highgate Cemetery

Overgrown cross


Last Saturday, I managed to cobble together a group to go and visit the western side of Highgate Cemetery. I have been to the eastern side, which contains such notables as Karl Marx and George Eliot, a number of times. In order to visit the western portion, you have to go on a guided tour. Since the guides will only take a maximum of 15 people at a time, you have to be pretty organized about getting there early and waiting in the queue. The western cemetery contains fewer people who would be famous to anyone not obsessed with the English aristocracy, other than Michael Faraday. However, it houses many who were infinitely more wealthy, or at least more willing to part with a sizable chunk of their fortunes to have the fanciest final resting places.

The tour was only supposed to last an hour, but our guide was clearly a devotee of the cemetery and its stories so we spent at least half an hour longer walking around. I didn't mind, as it gave me a chance to document the experience thoroughly.

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We were forbidden to photograph only one grave: Alexander Litvinenko's. His Wikipedia entry shows that a small photo of him originally served as a headstone, but that seems to have been removed, and it is now marked only by a profusion of flowers. I imagine that he may someday sink into the obscurity that so many others in the cemetery have, for the innumerable paupers buried in Highgate lie under the paths, undistinguished and unmourned.

Good Night Angel