I walk my dogs in the Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington on the mornings I can be bothered to walk the mile to get there. It’s the most heavenly (if you’ll excuse the expression) place — overgrown, wild, filled with flowers, birds, rare trees and stories. Sometimes I get names for characters there. Sometimes I meet people I know. Sometimes I go early and that’s best of all, because before anyone else is awake the dogs have a grand old time sniffing out squirrels and ghosts.
Here are some of the things I saw today:
1. Frank Bostock’s lion. The famous 19th century king of the traveling menagerie is buried near the entrance, his grave guarded by the most soulful life-size lion you can imagine.
2. Men in the bushes engaged in…nude wrestling, perhaps? Annoyed to be interrupted by my nosey dogs. And rightly so.
3. Joggers. Who greet other joggers, but not dog-walkers.
4. Dog walkers. Who greet other dog-walkers, often at length. The length of the greeting depends largely on the percentage of genetic material the owners’ dogs share. Lurcher owners meeting other lurcher owners can tarry for ages, basking in the warmth of mutual admiration.
5. Single men smoking cigarettes and wandering unhurriedly along the paths not making eye-contact with dog-walkers. See also number 2.
6. A lesser spotted woodpecker. Which, despite its lesser status, was producing a great deal of tap tap tapping.
7. A friend and his very large “labrador.” I say “labrador” because the dog is so obviously not a labrador that it defies rational belief. “But they told me it was a pedigree,” he says. “A pedigree what?” I reply. I think this is where the expression “being sold a pup” comes from. Though in his case, the pup is very nice indeed, despite not being a labrador and being at least half moose.
The good news is that we didn’t see a fox. There was a fox in Abney cemetery once. I know this for absolute certain because my dogs saw it before I did and….well. That’s another story.