Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Going to the chapel.

I’m working for my friend Pat, on a film pitch. His office is in a chapel, a deconsecrated one. After kicking around a few ideas he suggests I sit in the sanctuary to write. So I do. It's peaceful in the sanctuary and I get to sit on a leather chair at a long wooden meeting table. It’s a bit like the last supper, except with only one guest and no food.

I take my time writing the pitch because it's a nice change to be out of the house. God damn it, even the drive to his office is a nice change. Hell, even putting my laptop in the laptop case before the drive to his office is a nice change. Christ, even putting smart clothes on to get in the car to drive to his office is a nice change. When I get to his office it's heaven to have colleagues to commune with at the water-cooler, even if the water is freezing cold and hurts my gums. I decide to make a cup of coffee instead.

Back at the wooden table with my coffee I find Jesus staring down at me from a stained glass window. He’s following me around, I think, because there’s also Jesus at my weekly pilates class, which is also in a church, just in case you think I’m having religious hallucinations. He's in a stained glass window opposite my mat. Let there be light, it says underneath him, where the sunshine streams through.

Pat's office.

If you're getting the idea that I hang out in lots of churches you’d be wrong. For many years I never went in one at all. I was never christened, and I didn’t get married in one. There were other people’s weddings in churches, of course, during my late twenties and early thirties - mainly - but not so many of those since a lot of our friends still live over the brush - as my beloved grandmother would put it, if she were alive. And I come from a long line of atheists so I never went in a church as a child, except for York Minster, once, when I was little and we had people staying and my parents were showing it off. Apparently I said, “who’s that?” very loudly, when confronted with a statue of Christ. 

I went through a brief religious phase a while later, though. But who doesn’t? I thought it would be comforting and romantic, make me look deep. This was just after I found a kids' book of prayers in a book shop I was dragged into by my parents. It had pretty pastel illustrations on lovely silky paper, little girls kneeling beside quilted beds, in flowing nighties. "Dear Lord, lay me down to sleep, and take my soul to keep," or something. My father was horrified but he bought it for me anyway, presumably thinking that if he didn’t I might later run away and join a cult.

This flirtation with religion was compounded at the Nether Poppleton church fete later that same year (where we lived), where they had this guess the doll’s name competition. If you successfully guessed the name you kept the doll. I really wanted that doll. I was crazy about dolls. I was forever putting them to bed and kissing them night, night. My mother says I was so maternal I even put butter to bed in the fridge. When we lived in Canada a bit later I had a Holly Hobby doll and a Heather Hobby doll and they were my daughters. When I moved elementary school in Vancouver for our second year in the city and didn’t know anyone, I spent the whole of recess walking round the running track ‘talking’ to my daughters, telling them not to worry, I’d be home soon. This was before I made friends with Glenda and Kelly. Once I made friends with Glenda and Kelly I didn’t bother walking round the track talking to my dolls anymore. The three of us bought iced doughnuts at the snack bar and played with boys who told us all the unholy things we would be expected to do with them when we grew up. One day I went home and told my mother some of these unholy things, and was further horrified by her flat refusal to deny a single word.

Holly Hobby

At the Nether Poppleton church fete my dad didn't think twice. "We want to guess Everilda," he said. 

"Everilda?" I squealed. "As if anyone would call a doll Everilda! Eugh." (This was before I knew people called real girls Glenda and Kelly.) 

"It’s the name of the church," he explained. 

Of course Everilda was the doll’s name and he won it for me, which I thought was miraculous, but in hindsight wasn't so much divine intervention as my dad's.

After a day writing at Pat’s chapel/office I go back to the car in the dark and the drizzle, to where it's parked under some wonderful yew trees, and notice the chill in the air. How is it autumn already? In no time at all it will be Christmas again. Later that night I see One Night in Miami at the Donmar Warehouse. It's an all-male black cast. Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, having a night in, in 1964. Cassius Clay is on the brink of converting to Islam. The actor playing Sam Cooke sings A Change Is Gonna Come, a cappella. Jesus Christ, I think, that's good.

Love E x


P.S. We won the pitch, thank the Lord. Here's a film we made last year.