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Graveyards

I was talking to a friend of mine tonight, over a few pints, discussing the great victory at the weekend, and how we didn’t actually win at all considering the fact that Horgan’s first try wasn’t actually a try, so to speak. Anyway, during the course of this conversation it became obvious that a member of the bar staff was completely drunk and almost incapable of serving the customers. Very strange. Now, this is an unusual situation – the impossibility of the staff.

This could lead to conflict.

This did, in fact, lead to conflict, along the lines of “Where’s my fucking pint?”

To offset the acrimony, we took the unusual step of having a conversation, and it emerged that my friend has some involvement with the local authority. I didn’t know that about him. It’s something to do with setting out plots in graveyards – a specialised business, I’d imagine, requiring great skill and sensitivity. He was explaining that the local Muslim community wanted an area within the graveyard set aside for Muslim burials and that this isn’t possible because the graveyard can’t be run along religious lines. In other words, you’ll be buried beside the next guy no matter what name he has for God.

OK. Fair enough.

But as I understand it, it’s important to know where Mecca is and so I thought it might be helpful to invent a small gadget to assist in this matter. So I came up with the notion of the Mecca-meter, a device that informs you precisely what the orientation of your grave should be at any point on the face of the planet. However, I’m a little worried that this might not make me rich because I still can’t distinguish the difference between true Mecca and magnetic Mecca. This requires more research.

On further reflection, the graveyard problem is not as simple as it might seem. If graves of different religions are to be intermingled in one common municipal graveyard, it becomes very important to ensure that the ground is consecrated properly for each six-by-three plot. You don’t want a Christian grave blessed by a mullah, and you don’t want the rabbi accidentally over-spraying a Muslim plot, which could easily happen with old technology. So therefore, I was thinking, wouldn’t it be a good idea if the Council could have a mobile Consecrator, to be towed behind a truck, and this device would be reversed directly over a plot, automatically blessing an area of exactly six by three metric feet? There could be no mistake, and the machine could have different settings for each religion: just turn the knob.

Indeed, as lenses have become so sophisticated these days, it might even be possible to use satellite technology. Perhaps we could have an orbiting Consecrator, simply zapping tiny patches of earth as required. Provided, of course, the safeguards were put in place so that no madman would consecrate the wrong piece of ground. I mean, it wouldn’t do if they turned a piece of Medina into the Vatican by mistake. That’s worrying. Maybe they should use Linux.

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The worst poet ever

Today, I think I’ll share with you one of the works of William Topaz McGonagall, a man widely acknowledged to be the worst poet who ever lived. This fine example of his work commemorates the Tay Bridge disaster, one of the worst railway accidents ever to occur in Britain, and so we find a certain symmetry.

If, like me, you’re completely entranced by this incompetent fool, you can read more about him here: http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/

The poem is titled, appropriately enough:-


The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

‘Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.