Posted by: Merlin PJ5 FEB 2009
Following his recent brush with the health care system, not to mention seeing off the Grim Reaper, Merlin has had occasional morbid thoughts as to what should appear on his tombstone.
Tombstones are part of our heritage but are at risk of being lost through vandalism (both casual and official) and the effects of time and weather. Many local history societies have set about recording and publishing the inscriptions on the numerous tombstones in their local cemeteries and churchyards.
Most inscriptions are solemn and thought-provoking, but a few are hilarious. One of Merlin’s favourites refers to a lady from Epsom who took her daughters to Cheltenham to take the waters.
Unfortunately, the waters at Cheltenham at that time were rather unhealthy, perhaps due to contamination with sewage, and the poor lady and her daughters died as a result of using the “health cure”.
Their epitaph says: “Here lie I and my two daughters / Killed by drinking Cheltenham waters / If I’d stuck to Epsom Salts / We wouldn’t lie in these cold vaults.”
Some amusing inscriptions relate to the deceased person’s trade or profession. For example, a dentist of Glasgow is recorded as: “Stranger tread this ground with gravity / John Brown is filling his last cavity.”
Are there any interesting epitaphs to pharmacists anywhere? It would, perhaps, help in designing our own tombstones if we had a sort of generic inscription that each pharmacist could then adapt for his or her own posthumous use.