As I mentioned in a reply to a comment from Pat the other day, I had a nice wander around West Norwood Cemetery at the weekend. It’s a big place, forty acres, and has a nice rise to the chapel and crematorium at the top, with splendid views across London. There was hardly anyone about, not even many dog walkers, which surprised me given what a great space it is close to streets of houses.
Even in death, maybe especially in death, it’s easy to pick out the rich, the powerful, the self-important and the famous. I couldn’t always find a name on the various tombs and mausoleums, but it was pretty obvious which ones had been particularly costly. Some are the size of beach huts, some largish summer houses. It was an uncomfortable thought that some of our dead are housed better than the living; homelessness is rife in London. It’s a national scandal. Today a homeless man was found dead yards away from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the UK government.
Grand resting place
Striking a pose in death
At least one pigeon had found itself a upmarket abode.
I should be in bed. I should be asleep. It's late and I have a busy day ahead of me tomorrow. But today I got the message I have been expecting; A has died. Maybe I shall give her full name later, but for tonight, just enjoy this poem by her, one I liked the moment she handed it to me to read sometime in the early 90s. My copy still has the creases where I folded it into eight.
I hope it gives you a flavour of her eye, of her humour. Continue reading
Earlier today I clicked over to Julia’s Place and saw a picture of a bench she had posted. It didn’t look very comfortable to me, but certainly seemed to fit the bill for a photo challenge set up by Jude for pictures of benches with unusual details.
I don’t join in with many challenges, but it so happened that yeserday I photographed a bench in Winchester, just outside the castle, which meets the criteria.
A Promise Honoured
Information about the background to the project and the title can be found here. Continue reading
So I have my glass of wine; a lit candle stands in the window; MasterB who was curled up beside me has gone outside.
If Freddy hadn’t died, I shouldn’t have MasterB. A death marks not just an end, but a new beginning.
I have long called MasterB Cat’s Legacy. Before Freddy adopted me I was A Dog Person; I had no intention and no desire to have a cat.
Fourteen years after having my life turned upside down by a determined feline, the idea of living sans cat was just unthinkable.
So as well as remembering the Gorgeous Boy today, I am giving thanks for MasterB; a new life, a new relationship with my perfect companion cat; loved, cherished, as dear to me as Freddy.
And it’s spring. How could anyone fail to be glad? Continue reading
Pix at her Tiny Ten wrote yesterday of snow. In Lndon, I haven’t got the heating on yet, apart from the heated towel rail in the bathroom that is. It has been unseasonably mild. I went to dinner tonight at Octavia’s. Her mother, Rae (query spelling), is with her, a hale nonagenarian. While Octavia made a ‘phone call, Rae and I guzzled the good red wine. On the way home a short time ago, I actually felt very warm. I don’t think that was entirely due to the wine. Although this mildness, and the floods elsewhere in Europe, are worrying indications of climate crisis – and if I lived in one of those parts of Britain where floods have become the norm over the last few years, I imagine I would now be on Prozac – I admit I was grateful for the unseasonal warmth today. I spent the afternoon in the moat at the Tower of London as part of the disassembly team of volunteers taking the poppy display apart. An email yesterday warned us to expect Glastonbury conditions. The shift before us gleefully warned us of a mud bath. I can only think they don’t walk on unpaved paths very often.
Reading Saturday’s Guardian, I became aware for the first time of a bit of a spat between a Guardian columnist and the Daily Mail. These spats are not particularly unusual; the Mail specialises in splenetic outbursts and is notoriously sensitive to any assaults on anything it identifies as national pride.
So although I have some sympathy with the columnist who found himself accused of sneering at the poppies in the moat, I don’t think he should have been surprised. I didn’t see his original piece, just the response to the Mail’s denunciation. Think popes of middle ages and threats of eternal damnation and you get the picture.
The columnist feels the poppies are essentially saccharine; a comfortable ‘toothless’ display that sweeps the murderous truths of war ‘under a red carpet of artificial flowers’.
Predictably the Mail thinks this disses the dead. The lines are drawn up in drearily familiar style.
Short of banging their heads together in the hope that some of the molecules will be knocked into life and get these two protagonists to see sense, it’s probably best to ignore them. I freely admit I haven’t read the whole of the Mail’s outburst. Reading anything bar the weather in the Mail is something I prefer not to do. As a publication (like Linda Smith, I cannot bring myself to call it a newspaper) it depresses me enormously. That said, the columnist Jonathan Jones doesn’t exactly make me want to watch out for more of his writing. Without the picture by his byline, I could have thought him an adolescent; grimly serious about his views, convinced that these are the correct ones, the rest of us idiots, and quick to condemn others. Rather like the Mail in fact.
On Sunday there’s a memorial service for Caroline. She died just before Christmas last year and I still keep expecting to see her in Marks and Spencer somewhere near the veg counter.
It’s been a year of deaths.
My dear friend Maria lost her mother recently. Afterwards she wrote to me: “The funeral was very much like her. We all felt it matched her life perfectly. So we were all comforted by it.
And the funeral brought to us all her friends and all our friends and, thus, we were, and are, surrounded and supported by their love and by the different aspects of her personality they unfold before us.
I feel grateful to have had her as a mother and as a lifelong honest, generous and loyal companion.”
A good funeral then, but I can’t read Maria’s words without welling up. That awful disorientating period of adjusting has begun. There is no way back.
My friend Celia also lost her mother. For some weeks we had the dying mothers conversation, and Celia’s Mother was the one identified as being on the road with no return, with Mother merely frail in second place. Then Mother suddenly accelerated, sped into the fast lane and died first. Celia was, by chance, one of the last people I spoke to in London before heading East for those final days. Continue reading
Mother’s name was said aloud in two churches today. Two candles were lit in her memory.
I wasn’t there. None of Mother’s close family attended. Not because we didn’t want to, but distance and other commitments, problems with transport, all mitigated against.
One of Mother’s closest friends attended the service where her funeral took place. I hope he said her name loudly, that it rang remembered around the chapel that she never attended except in death. He was unable to be at the funeral, so it was right he was there today.
I do not know why the knowledge that her name was said out loud in front of others feels so powerful, but it does. I don’t ‘get’ Hallowe’en. I do ‘get’ All Souls day. Continue reading
A rather lovely day, and hoping to have some photos to post from it when I get home tomorrow. Today is six months since Mother died. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it seems right that I should be at das Boot and right that the day should be spent with Older Nephew. He came to help out with taking das Boot to the pump out, helmed like a champion and was great company to boot. We moored at a free mooring, had a pub lunch and came back. MasterB spent the entire time hidden under a pillow.
I made coffee, tied up and took photos. I did helm for a couple of minutes, but realised Older Nephew was gradually shuffling me out of the way, so I yielded quite happily. He lives fairly close to the marina, so we talked about him using the boat when I’m not here. I realise now I should have talked about him helming the boat when I am here, but maybe that’s for another conversation. Continue reading
Because it’s National Poetry Day. Because I am missing my mum. Because this is a poem she liked to hear and which I have not read once since she died until tonight. And reading it, I feel her hand in mine, hear her breathing, see her face in relaxed concentration, her pleasure, our connection, our shared enjoyment.
When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face; Continue reading