One of my favourite ‘London’ or ‘City’ churches is All Hallow’s by the Tower, near the Tower of London. It’s extraordinary. In the crypt is a Roman building (and Roman street), while the roof is moulded post-war concrete. All of London’s history is found in between, including a stunning font lid by Grinling Gibbons. I studied Wren and Hawksmoor’s London Churches as part of my degree, and this is one of few that I managed to visit with my Mum (thus rendering it EXTRA SPECIAL) – it is genuinely very very interesting. If you’re ever visiting the Tower of London as a tourist, go to the little church between it and the station. It’s free, and it’s beautiful, and special.
I don’t do anything for Halloween. I did once, but it was not successful, though I made a fucking fantastic costume for my partner – a calico version of Buffalo Bill/ Jame Gumb’s ‘Girl Suit’ from “Silence of the Lambs”- it was painted different skin colours – including fake tan, and tattoos, and even had a bush of grey public hair and asymmetric boobs. It was a bit more ‘Frankenstein created woman’ than haute couture skin dress, and that’s how I like it. Now I just hide in the kitchen and turn the lights out at the front of the house to discourage knocks on the door. It’s not that I mind Trick or Treaters (though one year when we didn’t open the door (we genuinely didn’t hear them) they splatted our house with eggs and shaving foam – a bastard to get off. It’s because my Dad hates it and acts so badly. Our road is a family road, and you can see the groups coming , covering the whole street, from 5-8pm. Polite, mainly Japanese families. I have no problem with Halloween, as my Mum did. To me it is an important festival, something primal – particularly when it falls as now, just after British Summertime ends and the clocks go back. The sudden onset of darkness and confirmation of Winter has always been primary to me.
Last week was the 2nd anniversary of my Mother’s Death. I spent the real day walking through Kensington Palace Gardens, then to Leighton House Museum, and then ate a Nando’s. Kensington Palace Gardens are beautiful in Autumn – fresh and sweetly perfumed. I started going there a lot in 2014, and when Mum was sick it was an important escape for me. Sometimes I go in the Palace, but mainly I walk through, look at the sunken gardens and trudge to TK Maxx on Kensington High Street. I may get coffee and cake in a fancy cafe, or cheap chinese in Stick and Bowl. This day I did not. I found a Nando’s. Nando’s is a Peri Peri Chicken phenomenon in the UK. When I was in 6th form (20 years ago) Mum and I would get a Nando’s after she finished work on a Friday. It was beside Ealing Common Station and we would call up and get take away. Since then, the chain has spread like a virus, becoming the most popular family restaurant in the UK. I did not know that I had been going to the first Nando’s in the UK. We stopped the ritual in 2000 when I went to Uni. Last week I had a variation of my original order. It was horrible and the experience disappointing, but that was kinda OK. I’d been feeling nervous, like something should go wrong – I was glad it was my chicken burger.
The next day, which is the official day of Mum’s death, I stayed in bed – exhausted from the previous day. Dad, I was later told, went to the grave. I have not visited since the funeral. He mentioned getting a stone. I have already considered all of this, and my superstitious nature means I’ve not mentioned it. As you know, the only thing, proper thing, I own in the world is my grave (currently occupied by my Mum). This spot will house Dad and me. I am supersticious about getting a stone up, only to have it taken down very soon after. I don’t want that to happen. But Dad has mentioned this twice in the last 3 days, it’s important to him and it will be done. This changes things. Dad goes to the grave, I do not. If it upsets him, actively upsets him, to see just a wood cross with a plaque, then I will get to designing a stone. Because I do not want him upset. I want him to feel free to visit Mummy when he likes. I’ve found some masons. It will be difficult because I am difficult to please, am very interested in gravestone design, am interested in letter forms and letter carving, and also know that since this will be my stone, and the only thing I’ll leave behind* I want it to be nice. Or if not nice, a bit me.
Today a strapping lad came to install our wardrobe. The wardrobe first designed in March or April. I also had a hospital appointment. The wardrobe saga was not finished today because bits of it were missing, and then there were other extra bits. It was stressful but not deadly so. My hospital appointment was for an ultrasound of my ovaries and bits. I had to be full of water when I got there. I was. I had to wait an hour for my appointment so I was not just full of water, I was urgently full of water. They did not mention on the form that I would also be having an internal ultrasound. I was not expecting that, but it was easy. I’ve decided that my sex parts are very relaxed. They just go with the flow. Yeah, an ultrasonic dildo was just randomly put up there and swirled around (gel lube was used), but Madame Uterus didn’t seem to mind. I needed to fart afterwards and it did take a bit of walking to waggle everything back into place, but it was not a trauma. I have had one bad gyno experience where my smear was horrible, but this lady knew what she was doing. I still need to fart. According to the radiographer, I do not have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) though I tick all the boxes outwardly** – I have cystic acne, my hair is falling out, I have heavy periods, my body shape and weight gain is very PCOS. But no. So I’ll have to find out why the hair is falling out. It may be stress, it may be bad nutrition – but I’ve had both before and not lost hair like this. We’re hoping the wardrobe’s will be finished tomorrow.
I have finally organised my bereavement counselling. It should start in December. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been putting it off, but finally got off my ass to do something about it. Later this week I hope to get my butt down to the local medical centre to get my blood test. Then I can rest easy about medical things for a while.
Gibbon’s Font Cover, by Bob Easton
Bob Easton on All Hallow’s By The Tower: https://www.bob-easton.com/blog/2016/4433/
*I intend to leave my body to science.
**Yet another medical complication. Great.