Today has apparently been the hottest Hallowe'en on record - by some way - and everyone seems to have gone a little insane as a result. I'm told the next hottest was about fifty years ago and that one was at least three degrees cooler, although Raily, whom we saw earlier today, tells us she remembers one Hallowe'en when it was so hot, her costume consisted of nothing but a cape and a pair of knickers! (Awkward: I'm not sure that was a Hallowe'en...)
London has been bathed in a deep golden light all day today. The heat the sun was kicking out in the early afternoon was positively Mediterranean...
Raily, Iain and the kids came early this morning. It was Will's birthday last week, and for a treat he wanted to go to the nineteenth century operating theatre in Southwark, which is about as charming and eccentrically Will as anything I know. They brought a painting with them, from Raily's father, who's an artist. He wanted us to have it as a wedding gift. He was apparently very moved when he saw the wedding on television, having known so many gay men in his lifetime and watched helplessly as they endured first brutal homophobia and then the hell of HIV/ Aids. He lives in Northern Ireland, where, of course, gay marriage is still illegal, so I suspect this, and the fact that his grandson is my godson, was all feeding into his great generosity.
The painting itself is a charming still life of a violin and a lot of books and clippings about Ivor Novello, who couldn't have been a more perfect choice for us, him having been a brilliant composer and known gaybo, who even dated my hero Siegfried Sassoon.
Of course Raily and co arrived at the start of the two-hour period when parking is not free in Highgate, so we spent ages, driving in circles, looking for a parking space attached to a meter. It turns out there are very few of them round here, and sadly, the one we chose had been earmarked for some kind of roadworks, because when we returned, despite having shelled out £6 for the privilege of parking there for two hours, we discovered a heart-crushing yellow parking ticket. £65 immediately down the drain. We apparently hadn't noticed the tiny sign which informed us that the bay was closed. The only positive was that we arrived before the tow-truck came, which the workmen assured us had been called. Haringey council will fleece you for anything they can get away with. I was mortified. I spend my life telling people who have moved out of London how fabulous it is to live in our part of the city.
In an attempt to put the embarrassment and anger behind us, Nathan and I walked through the glorious Highgate Wood to a sun-baked Muswell Hill, where we bought pumpkins to carve. There has never been a Hallowe'en when I haven't created a little Jack o'lantern and I hope there never will be...
We decided to take advantage of the weather to take pictures of some of Nathan's new knitted creations. His last pattern, a double-knit Sanquhar-inspired scarf is selling really well on Ravelry, and he's quite rightly rushing out a few more of his designs. Funnily enough, we were photographing the Sanquhar scarf the day we found out that Channel 4 had commissioned Our Gay Wedding. That was the first sunny day of the year. Perhaps this will be the last.
There was a minor panic when we reached the house and discovered that Nathan had left his bag - filled with keys, wallets and passports - under a tree in the wood, but fortunately, when we rushed back, it was still there, being watched-over by a family whose children were playing on a nearby log. Only in Highgate!
This evening we went to see Shakespeare In Love at the Noël Coward Theatre, which turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasant experience. Yes it was all a little alienatingly thespie; lots of hoarse actors shouting their lines, pointlessly gesticulating and genuinely having a little too much fun on stage, but it's a show with heart, which doesn't take itself too seriously, and the incidental music is written by someone with a serious understanding and love for medieval music, which I appreciated hugely. I could have done without a few of the knowing Shakespeare puns which crept into the script, and furthermore the audience's reaction to said lines. "Oh yes... a reference to Macbeth... Oh yes, we know that quote gaffaw, gaffaw, fnah..." There was also a sequence in which two men kiss, which the audience found particularly amusing. Yeah, 'cus that's still REALLY funny, isn't it?!
Anyway, we were home before midnight to carve our pumpkins. I'm not quite sure yet what mine is going to be. I might go quite traditional this year. Mix things up, you know... Living the dream!