I halted my walk through All Saints Churchyard and turned enquiringly in the direction of the voice. The speaker, having caught my attention continued thus,
“Why are these leaning? The stones I mean”, he said.
“I don’t know” I replied, continuing on my way home.
Perhaps my response to the above question was a little terse. However I was unsure as to why a total stranger should accost me with such a peculiar question and I had no wish to stand around debating matters about which I knew little, in a churchyard as evening fell. Afterwards however I began to ponder on this strange question. My pondering did not revolve around why gravestones lean (I assume that over time they tend to tilt). Rather my thoughts centred around the people residing under said stones. When one is dead surely one has no interest in whether the stone above your head is dead straight or leaning like a man who has just consumed 10 pints of strong beer? The sleepers in that quiet earth will, I assume rest with the same repose irrespective of whether the stone above their head tilts or stands straight as a die?
The incident brought to mind the closing lines of Brontae’s Wuthering Heights,
“I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor: on middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton’s only harmonized by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff’s still bare.
I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth”.