Looking for comfort in all the wrong places as usual, I returned to the Spiritualist Church last night. The medium was a trembling charlatan who alienated the congregation with her vagaries and generalisations. My dog has demonstrated more evidence of clairvoyance than she did. It’s perhaps not surprising that an attempt to find meaning in life by contemplating death proved futile. A friend of mine who used to suffer from depression told me that his melancholic disposition cheered considerably when he realised that death was inevitable.
I went to Highgate cemetery this Sunday and I think it might possibly be the most beautiful place in London. You have to take the tour if you want to see the divine West Cemetery but its very interesting and worthwhile to do so. It really is the most magical, exquisite, fairy tale, Gothic graveyard ever. Sadly the catacombs are far less romantic than those at Kensal Green as they are made up of just one recessed tunnel that runs underneath the cemetery wall, they have a slightly abandoned wine cellar feel to them and they are actually on ground level which I didn't like. Now I am conflicted (in death as in life) as I would love to be interred in a catacomb at Kensal Green but if I were to be buried in the ground I would want to be buried at Highgate West.
Later we went over to the more modern Eastern burial ground to pay our respects to Malcolm McClaren. Most of the visitors were busy having their picture taken by the huge Karl Marx statue but we don’t agree with communism, ( Richard works in fashion and I don’t like being told what to do) so we didn’t bother with that. We walked past Jeremy Beadle (who knew??) and then Patrick Caulfield’s witty headstone that just says DEAD. Richard asked the attendant how much it would cost us to be buried there. He looked a bit suspicious at first but after pause said ‘four figures’ , then ‘ and we don’t take advance bookings you have to be dead or at least terminal.....’
Guru took me to the Highgate Murugan Temple today. Interesting place in that they operate a ‘pay for pray’ system whereby you can ask the priests to pray for you by filling in a chit at the entrance to the temple and making a small donation to the clerk. The clerk writes your name in Hindu on your prayer ticket and then you take the ticket to the altar of your choice. The altar priest prays for you and you bless yourself with the heat from the candles lit in honour of the god. Then they put sacred powder in your ticket (like wrap of heroin) and give it back to you with some blessed flowers and fruit from the gods. You can also go downstairs and have vegetarian lunch for no charge at all.
1 cup of ice
1 cup of low fat soya milk
1 teaspoon of honey
1 medium banana that has been placed in offering to Hindu deity Ganesh, Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. God of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Prayed upon by the temple priests and then given to you for your home alter in honour of your prayers.
I spent Sunday afternoon in Kensal Green cemetery. We took the guided tour of the catacombs which was pretty exciting except that we were forced to stay close to the well meaning but rather dreary tour guide. The guided cemetery tours are given by ‘The friends of Kensal Green’. As you can imagine any person who considers a Victorian grave yard his buddy is likely to be somewhat socially challenging. And so it was that he led us down the dark stone stairway from the Anglican Chapel into the cold damp dark catacombs below. He showed us the mechanical system that lowers the coffins from the church above to the resting place below. I ascertained that I could get a signal on my Blackberry but the church insists that catacomb coffins are lined in lead which means I now have to totally rework my precautions against being entombed alive strategy. While the ‘friend’ was banging on about the hydraulics of the ‘dumb waiter for the dead’ my mortal friend and I stepped back from the tour to get a better look and a little touch of the tunnels lined with arched recesses full of coffins. We cracked open a bar of Green and Blacks and discussed what an excellent place this would be to A) get laid and B) get buried. Apparently it costs just £5000 to leave your earthly body in Kensal Green catacombs and there are still places available!