When I was a child our next door neighbour was a man who had a very limited idea of what children might be interested in talking about. Mostly he talked to us about the weather:
"The day now, wild caul, aye, that's a bad ould day, a quare bad day, aye, caul, very caul...."
We used to meet him on the way to primary school, us with our schoolbags on our backs and him herding his three cows up the road after milking time.
We could hardly wait to get away from him so we could imitate how he talked. We were very callous children.
The thing is almost everyone in London has turned into a version of that man. We talk about nothing but the rain which hasn't stopped for what seems like weeks. Every photograph I've taken outside in April is of rain. It mizzles, spits, falls, lashes. We are soaked, drenched, drooked and very, very fed up.
I didn't go to work on Friday. I'd planned to have the day off for ages. I decided that I would do something nice and I'd go to Mass to mark the first anniversary of my mother's death. London Sister decided she would come with me.
I was dreading the day which was also the anniversary of the day that my boss phoned me up to tell me I was being made redundant.
Thankfully it turned out to be a good day (obviously not weatherwise). I arranged with LS that I would go to the National Portrait Gallery and see if there were any tickets available for the Freud exhibition. The tickets for this exhibition have been sold out for months. It turned out that there were masses of tickets available as they sell 500 tickets on the day but as everyone believes it's sold out not many people turn up on spec. I had a choice of times to visit.
I arranged to meet LS outside. On the way in I bumped into the GT's (aka the GYS) mum who was also going to the exhibition. She had bought her tickets weeks ago and seemed a little miffed that I had been able to get mine by just by wandering in off the street.
We had lunch in the cafe in St Martins-in-the-Fields. The cafe is very popular and relatively cheap considering it's in central London. The whole church and surrounding area was refurbished a few years ago. I know someone who worked on the project and he told me that when they did public consultation the question they were most often asked was when the cafe re-opened would it still have apple crumble on the menu. I can confirm that it still does. In the cafe I bumped into someone else, a woman who I had met in October doing the Camino. You have days in London like that where you keep seeing people you know.
The Freud is very good and much of it very moving. He died a few weeks after my mother.
It was sligthly odd to be looking at an exhibition while all the time thinking at this exact time last year we were at my mother's death bed, this was the exact time my mother died.
My sister pointed out how much my mother would have hated the exhibition coming from a generation who were not comfortable looking at displays of naked flesh (she would have loved the Hockney).
After the exhibition we walked through the hordes of tourists and rain down Whitehall and then along Victoria Street to Westminster Cathedral and went to the sung Mass. It was quite well attended and there was plenty of incense and not too long a sermon. There are lots of civil servants working in that area and a surprising number of them were starting their weekend with a trip to Mass. The singing was beautiful and I'm glad we did it.
Afterwards we went to M&S where my sister persuaded me to buy a sun hat, I suppose because there were no chocolate teapots on sale, and then we went our separate ways.
I'm glad this watershed is over but still sad that I can no longer say this time last year my mothe was still alive. (I like this poem very much which is also about the loss of a mother.)