Remembering freedom and feeling like a sinner. Bamburgh, Wednesday 4th December. 1996.

(2017– short sections, copied from a longer piece, regarding a family journey to my great aunt’s funeral in Bamburgh, Northumberland)

“Eight hours in the back of the family wagon today….to remember my dear great aunt…who died last week, naturally and not before her time.

We are a bizarre bunch. I feel so disconnected somehow.

Greeted in Bamburgh by the searing, bitter wind and big skies of Northumberland.

…awkard in high heels and billowing skirt, ‘going to seed’ body and hair, make-up less, due to my natural beliefs, and my nose ring removed as a concession to the occasion. Suddenly dirty nails and peeling nail varnish….

….our family, en masse, has an embarressing habit of taking over, entire, public spaces. We seem to roar our appreciation, or distaste, at immeidiate surroundings, explore them, arrange ourselves over a vast area and relax as if they are our front room. The old guy, trying to have a quiet pint, in the corner, will definately have something to say when he gets home!….

..I swallowed my giant yorkshire pudding, peas and chips, along with any misconceptions, I’d ever had, that I’d ever fit in, comfortably, in their eccentric world. In some ways I compliment it beautifully….but the secure fantasy of it all unsettles me.

Back into the bitter air. Better.

The church stood, solid and square between blackened bent trees…

She had chosen three, intriquing and obscure hymns that no-one sung very well. I did cry, but more for the fragility of human lives and the lack of any true, spiritual meaning, than out of greif.

She had represented freedom to me…a blunt directness in speech….a filthy sense of humour….a terrific courage….and revelry in spinsterdom.

The skies outside the church windows turned moody and wild, threatening snow. This was the Northumberland she loved. I longed to go. To escape to the dunes, perhaps with a miniture malt and some tabacco, and remember her there instead. Although she had been a devout Christian and her faith was a big part of her strength, my great aunt was most herself on those desolate beaches.

I took communion and felt like a sinner. I suffered and felt guilty under the eyes of the Lord and left the church, back into the suffocating back of the car and on to the grave, grave yard.

Wondering about people. How far beyond our grasp the understanding really is of these worlds within worlds, the living and dying. How pathetic our attempts to rationalize it all….

…collected the dog who smelt of biscuits and someone elses house, then back to ‘home’, Braevallich, with all of it’s histories.

I dreamt of a new life with D. while that little voice , in the back of my brain, kept repeating, “Nah, fuck it all.” to romance.”

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