Thursday, 24 February 2011

Graveyard rules.

People ask for strange stones for their loved ones when they have died. I quickly grew aware of all the rules and regulations governing church yards as some of the stranger ones came in. Some graveyards may have alot of room  but the two I have been most involved with were getting full...space was at a premium. St Just particularly has many small rules about sizes of stones and what's not allowed. It's a beautiful place much visited by people who come to see the church and the garden of tropical plants surrounding it, perched on the edge of a creek.
I got to know the local stone mason quite well during the interegnum and some of the requests amused him but he always checked with me to see if it was possible. Some were not. We had to keep the beauty and the gravity of the place intact and stones in the shape of toys or pets or Disney cartoon animals could not be allowed. Most accepted this  but one or two became incensed at what they though was beaurocracy. One woman in particular waged a long battle to get what she wanted for her mother It was a complicated design. based on a wartime service badge. It was going to be twice as big as any of the other small stones and she wanted it coloured red and yellow. I had already stretched a point to allow the burial at all. Her mother had never been resident in the parish. She did not accept my refusal of the design or the word of the stone mason. E mails flew through the air at the rate of several a day. The phone rang late at night. The stone mason and I became friends during this period when we were in touch most days because of the growing threatening behaviour of one woman. We quoted chapter and verse of the local by laws, the national rules and everything else we could find. The local solicitor was dragged in. The stone mason was sacked. It all got very unpleasant. I spent alot of time down there, being summoned by the distressed daughter who was convinced that we were all being unreasonable. It all got done in the end.
The stone is now almost the right size, made by a rival mason and is just two stones away from the one we did this week with its attendant beer can. I went to look at it. There is a bright blue statue leaning against the bright gold lettering.
 The verger said, "I've  had to leave it there because she says its the virgin Mary and she bought it in our shop"
She got some of her own way in the end.  We both shook our heads as we remembered the few months of dissent involved. And then I went to put some snow drops on my daughter's stone not all that far away.  Peace.

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