I moved to Craigentinny a year and a half ago and have been plinking around with DIY in my spare time. DIY tends to be dusty business and dust as we know is the enemy of records.
While mosying around my new neighbourhood I came across a giant tomb. There is no other way to describe it except to use capital letters and the bold function; A MASSIVE old monument with carved marble panels on the sides. In among the 1930s bungalows this was a gigantic thing. A giant thing with a plaque attached.
I love living in Edinburgh, there are lots of plaques everywhere. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) stayed up the road from us on George Street after he eloped. There’s a wee plaque next to a hairdressers that says ‘Percy woz ere’ or words to that effect. I was sure that this monolith in Craigentinny was a monument to war dead. But which war? That was the question. So I went and had a read…
This is the last resting place for William Henry Miller (1789-1848). And he’s not going anywhere soon.
I recognised the name because there is a song about this very man by Edinburgh’s very own Meursault and after a wee bit of research, (a really interesting piece) the lyrics all start to make sense.
From the internet: “William Henry Miller was an Eighteenth Century politician, possibly a hermaphrodite, who asked to be buried face down, 40 feet beneath the Earth, under a gigantic mausoleum.”
The Neil Pennycook banjo plinking still doesn’t make sense.*
Bury me face-down…
The joke finishes with “…so the world can kiss my arse!”
A scurrilous rumour began after William Henry Miller’s death that he was a hermaphrodite, partly because of the 6 week period between his death and eventual interment and the odd request to be buried so deep and to be covered with a massive slab. But, no wonder it took 6 weeks, they had to dig a 40 foot hole first!
He was maybe afraid of grave robbers or simply fond of the Pharaohs. I think he wanted buried face down so he could look down on the world when he was ascending, Felix Baumgartner–like to heaven. Cometh the resurrection, I think he’ll be left be, Mr God would need a winch to get the lump of stone off of him and probably wouldn’t approve of his spending of £20,000 on his funeral arrangements back in 1848.
If you like, you can watch this ancient video of Meursault and friends playing their masterpiece at the monument itself and looking strangely coy.
Shop favourites, PAWS have been covering this song live too and there’s a video where Josh on drums looks like a thrashy Ringo. I’ll let you find it yourself. (At the spotty dog.)
However, PAWS front man, Phillip played an acoustic cover of the song at our place earlier in the year too.
And with that, I can tie in a plug for the PAWSault gig on Saturday 21st. Yes it’s a hybrid group never before seen, performing at the Song by, Toad label’s Christmas Party (and celebration of 5 years in the business) at Henry’s Cellar Bar. You can be pretty sure this will be the LOUDEST version yet. Somehow, I don’t think William Henry Miller would have approved. Luckily, it’ll be peaceful and quiet where he is…
*A gentleman is someone who can play the banjo…. but doesn’t. Copyright, Mark Twain (1835-1910).