I went for a tour of Dean Cemetery, guided by a woman from the Dean Village Association. Dean Village is by the Water of Leith which drove the mill-wheels in the mills that have now been converted into flats. The village is a picturesque place set in a wooded glen below the grand Dean Bridge.
Dean Cemetery was set up by the bourgeoisie of Edinburgh at what was the edge of their city in 1846, so they would not have to buried in the inner city cemeteries which were frequented by traders and drunks. It is laid out with big healthy looking trees, and is a quiet handsome place, with fine memorial sculpture.
Some of the graves have portrait reliefs - good portraits with individual features.
Here lie and rot the high bourgeoisie of Edinburgh - doctors, lawyers, bankers, engineers including many of the great lighthouse engineering family. the Stephensons. Dr Joseph Bell, who was the prototype for Sherlock Holmes, is buried here.
There are also artists like David Octavius Hill, a painter and pioneer in photography. He is most famous for his calotypes of fishwives.
His wife sculpted his grave bust.
Thomas Bouch, the builder of the Tay Bridge which collapsed in 1879, died a year later, broken by the terrible event and the inquiry which blamed him for the bridge's design flaws.
Thomas Playfair, the architect of the National Gallery of Scotland and other examples of neo-classicism in Edinburgh, is represented by the kind of design you would find in one of his buildings.
Francis Jeffrey, one of the founders and the editor of the Edinburgh Review, in its day a periodical of European importance. The anecdote that the guide told about him was that one evening he carried Boswell home drunk and passed out.
The sense you get of nineteenth century Edinburgh from this graveyard of the prosperous is a city of wealth, solid achievement and craftmanship.
My favourite memorial was this gravestone. Thomas Smith Clouston was from Orkney, hence the Viking ship and the decoration.
Clouston was a distinguished psychiatrist, an "alienist" as they called it those days, the head of the Morningside Asylum, both practising physician and superintendent as well as writing books like The Neuroses of Development, The Hygeine of Mind and The Unsoundness of Mind, and edited the Journal of Mental Science. According to his obituary he was a champion for humane treatment of the insane. I liked the idea that in his busy, distinguished life a part of him was rooted in a romantic idea of Viking ancestry and ancient animal symobls. As the guide, an enthusiast for the place, said, there are so many stories here.
The Captain's Bar is putting on another Havers and Blethers show for the Edinburgh festival. That's an hour of spoken word performance from various poets and prose writers.
Venue:- Captain's Bar 4 South College Street Edinburgh EH8 9AA Dates:- 1st August - 20th August Time:- 7:30 - 8:30 pm
I'm performing Friday 5th August and Wednesday 10th August
It's a great little venue, right in the heart of Festival land and also what the fringe Festival is supposed to be like, instead of the huge venues with their 50 different stand up comedians at £15 a show it's become.
I have been shifting flats and lost broadband for a while, so things have been quiet here.
As far as the Breivik massacre goes, I was glad that I was distant from the blogosphere at a time of instant political point scoring, without a decent interval of silence and of not rushing to judgement. I know little about Norway but I do know what it is like in a country with a small population when something like that happens. The people of Scotland were deeply upset after the Dunblane massacre. Friends of mine could not bear to speak about it or look at that school photo of the children with their bright faces and their nice-looking teacher.