Thursday, 28 April 2011

We will never forget you

Another day of nonsense. I woke up and went for a 6 mile run, which involved Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Highgate Village and hundreds of ridiculous hills. My legs now feel like planks of wood.

In the early afternoon I had to go to Wood Green to sort out my housing benefit. Haringey Council, in their wisdom, have closed their Crouch End office, which means the residents of Highgate have to schlep their way across North London to the biggest hell hole on the planet. There’s neither a direct bus, or a tube that goes to Wood Green from where I live, so I decided to drive, which was a mistake, because it costs £4 to park outside the council offices for an hour. Little did I know that the council’s official line is that “it’s free to park in Somerfield for two hours,” which struck me as fairly shocking.
The housing benefits office is a horrible place. It smells of sweat and cheese. It’s dark, and there were people queuing everywhere. Periodically, a computerised voice calls out “could ticket 225 go to counter 15 etc” When the lady behind the first counter asked for my postcode, she raised her eyebrow when I said N6. I couldn’t work out if it was a raised eyebrow because N6 seems like miles away to someone in N22, or whether it was because N6 is posh, and people from posh postcodes don’t sign on.

The second bloke who dealt with me was shaking because his girlfriend kept phoning. She’d overslept and then fainted because she couldn’t get her medication for high blood pressure. He asked me to pray for her and I didn’t quite know where to put myself. He didn’t seem to want to take any of the documents I’d brought with me. I sincerely hope I won’t be called in again because he was so distracted.

As I walked out of the office, I was very nearly flattened by a 6 year-old lad riding one of those ubiquitous scooters. Now, I’m all for my god-daughter in her sweet little crash helmet going along the pavement on a scooter, but razzing down the pavement faster than a BMX is surely something that needs to be addressed?

I went home via the cemetery in Hampstead Garden Suburb. It’s a very calm and peaceful spot; the place where Julie’s father was cremated. It’s also the resting place of Marc Bolan and Ronnie Scott. Some of the inscriptions on the plaques in there almost broke my heart. It’s amazing the way that death levels people. I was far less impressed by the countless gaudy plaques put in place for the various anniversaries of Marc Bolan’s death, than I was with some of the more heartfelt inscriptions from ordinary people; “My darling, I miss you so much. I love you. Without you there is no life for me. I hope we will be together again very soon. Yours forever.” There was also a little wedding anniversary card attached to a bouquet of roses which read; “from your loving wife, Dolly.”

Sunday 28th April, 1661, and Pepys went to St Bride’s Church, which I think I’m right is saying was the church he was baptised in. He was joined by various relatives. They all went back to Pepys’ father’s, where an impromptu party took place. Pepys' father took him on one side and confessed to another altercation with his wife; "she would not let him come to bed to her out of jealousy of him and an ugly wench that lived there lately, the most ill-favoured slut that ever I saw in my life, which I was ashamed to hear that my mother should be become such a fool, and my father bid me to take notice of it to my mother, and to make peace between him and her. All which do trouble me very much."

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