The Hunt For Voldemort’s Grave in Greyfriars Cemetary

According to the tour guide for the Edinburgh Ghost Tunnel Tour, J.K. Rowling came up with Voldemort’s real name after visiting the Greyfriars Graveyard.

So, naturally, a friend and I raced to Greyfriars Kirk on a quest to find the gentleman who would become a legend over a hundred years after his death.

Unfortunately, finding The Dark Lord’s gravestone proved to be more difficult than we were hoping for.

We tagged along on a Harry Potter tour that we probably should have payed for but didn’t *shrugs* to see if the tour guide would give us a hint as to where the tombstone was. However, he seemed more interested in showing us awkward ring tricks than assisting us on our quest, so we decided to venture out on our own.

This must be said: European cemeteries are infinitely cooler than American ones.

It’s unfair to compare them, really.

For one thing, Europe is impossibly old compared to America. Therefore, you will find gravestones and monuments that date back to the 1500s or even the 1300s.

Here are a few that we stumbled across:

And then, finally, we found the man of the hour:

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Turns out his father’s name was Thomas Riddell also.

Even while taking pictures of this, I imagined what this man would think if he knew his name was used for one of the most powerful villains in literary history.

My head cannon is that when J.K. Rowling dies (hopefully at a very old age) she will arrive in Heaven to find a very cheesed-off Scotsman wearing a regiment coat with his arms folded and his foot angrily tapping.

“Who are you?” Rowling will ask.

“You-Know-Who,” he’ll hiss.

Yes, it’s bad enough this man died at such a young age (26), but it would seem that some drunk idiots found it appropriate to tag his plaque.

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Not only did this person think it was acceptable to graffiti a dead man’s plaque, they couldn’t even be bothered to spell Voldemort correctly.

Fortunately, some kind soul left a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the plaque. I did not have any flowers on me, nor did I know of a nearby florist to buy some from, so I picked a wild flower that was growing a few feet away and dropped it on top of the bundle.

So, Mr. Riddell, I’m sorry you’ll forever be known as The Dark Lord.

However, as a writer, I don’t think I would have been able to pass up on such a unique name either. Riddell (or Riddle, as it was in the novels) implies mystery and intrigue. Romance even.

At least you may take solace in the fact that some woman from the 20th century took a look at your name and thought “Huh. Cool.”

May you rest in peace.

Unless you were a dick.

In which case, this scenario would become infinitely more funny.

Bookish Culture On the London Underground

We spent a day in London, which basically means we spent a day in the London Underground.

Our professors told us to dress in layers since it was predicted to rain quite a bit that day….

So there we were, wearing long-sleeve shirts and rain coats in 75 degree weather  (23 degrees celsius) and thick humidity, cramped into glorified tissue boxes that threw us around like loose change in a tin can.

Much to our dismay, the Tube is not equipped with air conditioning. In fact, most places in London aren’t (at least from what I experienced). Consequently, we were made to sweat buckets in the company of strangers who all looked as if they were a Sarah McLachlan song away from shooting themselves in the face.

But it wasn’t all bad. At least from my book-nerd point of view. Because while trapped in the Devil’s Lipstick, I saw something I haven’t seen in quite a while in my neck of the woods: people reading paperback books in public.

I’d seen people with novels on the airplane ride over, but I’m not used to seeing people with anything other than their phones in their hand while frequenting public places.

The reason for this change is likely because there is no cell service underground. Or at least I couldn’t find any with my international plan.

Another thing I noticed as we scuttled about frantically, trying not to lose each other, is that they had advertisements for books everywhere.

They weren’t just self-help books about how to get thin that were written by celebrities either. Many of them were fiction and the effort that went in to each of them was inspiring. They looked like movie trailers, some featuring the image of their respective authors.

I wish I could have taken a few photos, but unfortunately I was trying to save memory on my phone and there wasn’t enough time to get out my other camera to take them.

It was just so uplifting to see books being given the recognition they deserve outside of a bookstore. There seems to be more emphasis on reading over there.

I could get used to that.

London, I don’t miss your Tube all that much. But I do miss seeing an appreciation for the written word in such a public way.

 

Writers Need To Travel

I was hesitant to write this because I know how tight a writer’s budget can be, and I didn’t want to make it sound like everyone has the same opportunities that I have been presented with. However, I feel strongly enough about it that I think I can give it a strong endorsement.

Writers, travel.

If possible, travel to another country.

Take in the day-to-day, learn the stories, visit all the touristy sites, go explore the countryside.

You don’t have to stay long.

Just absorb as much as you can.

There are so many stories I’ve accumulated during this British Isle Study Tour I think I have enough inspiration to last me for several years, if not the rest of my life.

I’ll be blogging about some of these experiences in future posts.

I know I’ve been complacent with updates, but I promise to be more frequent in the future.