Four Cemeteries and other Grave Tales by Graham Bathgate

A slim volume of enlightening observations and musings on visits to graveyards in four countries. Very much down the line, but a deadline will help!

Please read several excerpts from Four Cemeteries and Other Grave Tales below.

» Undying Love
» Musings in Montparnasse Cemetery
» Travelling to Deadlines

Great Memories of the USA by Graham Bathgate

Published in the Kapiti Independent News November 2016

In Scotland long ago I entered my teens having read stories about cowboys and indians, watched Wagon Train, Bonanza and Maverick, and listened to Buddy Holly, Doris Day and Bing Crosby, American music and culture much applauded until our very own heroes came along taking America by storm but hardly eclipsing America’s great lights.

Now living in New Zealand, I often hear of Sir Edmund Hillary and I wonder what he would have said about the US President-elect. I’m sure our gentlemanly and dignified hero would have seen a silver lining, saying something like you can US President Clinton and Sir Edmund Hillary scale the heights but it’s what you do afterwards that counts.

It’s a great, highly productive country!

Meanwhile consider this: The US is a country that produced Geronimo, Wyatt Earp, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Liberace; shot several presidents and John Lennon, invented Rock ’n’ Roll and Jazz (and Hip Hop and Rap), put the first man on the moon and the first men in flight, invented the atom bomb killing 130,000 in Japan, assassinated Martin Luther King, produced the Ku Klux Klan and the United Nations, invented the motor car, awarded Pulitzer prizes for sparkling achievements and saved Britain from speaking German.

And consider, too:

Silicon Valley, Scientology, cell phones and the internet;  the needless invasions of Viet Nam and Iraq, over 30% of all scientific research and development funding to the world, prohibition of the sale of alcohol and overtaxing its poor people No gay marriage in most States but poligamy OK in some. Moving pictures and Hollywood with the likes of Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Ronald Reagan; inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell (OK, so he was Scottish working in Canada, but the first phone patent was American), Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Einstein and Richard Gatling.

Fighting one of the bloodiest civil wars of all time.

Producing great writers in Mark Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe, Steinbeck, Jack London, Faulknor, Henry James and Melville; enriching our minds with To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, A Streetcar Called Desire, The Grapes of Wrath, In Cold Blood, The Wizard of Oz, Reader’s Digest and Playboy.

Then there’s McDonalds, Coca Cola, KFC, the vacuum cleaner and Senator Joseph McCarthy; Wyoming, Hawaii, Texas and California, New York, San Francisco, Detroit, New Orleans and LA; Disneyworld. Apple computers, hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, baseball, basketball (oops, that was Canada!), skateboarding and surf music. Jesse Owens, Mohammad Ali, Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky (OK, Canadian, I know, but he played in the States); not forgetting singers and song writers like Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Nat King Cole, Frank Zappa, Phil Spector and the 2016 Nobel Literature Prize winner, Bob Dylan, and of course, Leonard … (Hallelujah! Canadian again, sorry!).

Finally, the near obliteration of all native Americans; evangelical religions, Levi jeans, microwave ovens, cornflakes, Wrigley’s chewing gum, the typewriter keyboard, barbed wire, nylons, tube lipstick …

The Simpsons and re-inventing the spelling of the English language … if not the English language itself. The US, the USA, the United States of America, all 51 of them, America the country that became a dream in the minds of so many.

I know that social media and the present time are most revered now but a little reminder of a great history goes a good way to getting over cringing embarrassment. US achievements should make up for a President Trump without so much as blinking. Apart from which President Trump will become wonderfully presidential as befitting the greatest office in the world, which won’t necessarily prevent woeful promised policies, trying to control the legislature, interfering in global warming and influencing the media.

Anyway, as we say in Scotland, “Dinna fash yersel’!”; in Canada, “Take it easy!”; in the USA, “You have a good day!”; and way down here in li’l ol’ God’s Own, New Zealand, “Good on ya! She’ll be right”. Well, no doubt time will tell what the US President-elect does in his presidency, having conquered his Everest. At least Scotland, Canada and New Zealand don’t hold circus-like elections … yet!