Sunday, 1 October 2006

Byron Day, a Picnic & Alan Bennett

(1). Human nature has been made to seek carnal pleasures.  (2). All one's efforts are in seeking this sole endeavour.  (3). Without regular pleasuring of the 5 senses one's life becomes strenuous.  (4).  Because man is always in need of physical pleasuring God Almighty has prepared for him the house of endless pleasures in the afterlife.  (5). This house is called Paradise because this is what is sought in one's nature.

                Hazrat Doctor Mir Mohammad.  Bukhar e Dil.

One can actually enter nearer the Anglican Chapel end via the crematorium.  I have always previously borne the long trek down the Harrow Road usually by bus but then have to walk right up back towards the Anglican Chapel.  Get there early so sit down and read my Guardian.  As the organiser (Henry Vivian-Neal) and members of the Byron Society arrive I help out to lay the tables and turn the lights on to the catacombs! Henry offers all a glass of Madeira which I think Byron wrote a poem in praise of as well. 

Henry prepared a lovely booklet with short biographies of the people on the tour whose tombs or coffins we are to visit, and the first coffin we see in the catacombs is that of Byron's friend John Fitzgibbon.  Fitzgibbon was Byron's friend at Harrow and he wrote that their friendship had 'Begun earliest and lasted longest.'  Then we see the Dent family vault but I don't recall the Byron connection and then the coffin of Augusta Leigh, Byron's half-sister with whom he had an incestuous affair: her coffin lies on the second shelf from the floor adjacent to that of her husband (and first cousin), George Leigh.  Medora Leigh, who is supposed to be the offspring of the Byronic affair is also in the catacombs but in a different place and we don't get to see her, I wonder who she rests with!?

Outside in the cemetery are the tombs of the poet Leigh Hunt, a friend of Byron's.  Hunt's poem 'Abou Ben Adhem & the Angel' was once referred to by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (or maybe he referred to the original from which the poem is, perhaps,. a translation).  Henry says "Like a convoy we move at the speed of the slowest member" which I like.  To the grave of Babbage – The friend of Byron's daughter Ada, interestingly or curiously enough (depending on how one takes these things) his head is not interred with the body, which lies in Lincoln's Inn for anatomy students to gloat over.  Howe Peter Browne (Marquis of Sligo) another friend of Byron, then finally to the tomb of Lady Byron which is quite difficult to visit unless one knows exactly where it is, I tried finding it on my first visit a few years ago.  The grave of John Murray is similarly hidden and we are only able to admire it from a distance.  Then Ducrow whom I must have seen a dozen times, it is a good tomb of architectural interest but there is only so much of it one can take! Hobhouse, Byron's close friend and fellow traveller and Giovani Battista Falcieri whom Byron called Tita – Byron's servant who faithfully brought his body back to England.

A pure 'Serenely Sweet' beauty whom I'm sure I have seen before (most probably here on another tour) is here in the most beautiful black velvet skirt accentuating her curvaceousness.  We all gather in the Dissenter's Chapel for recitations of Byron poems and I think of her pertness as 'She walks in beauty like the night' is read.  She asks me "Did you enjoy the day?" Eyeing out the photographs on the wall and saying "Beautiful photographs."  She has a pair of the most enticing eyes ever! 
Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine by thy beautie beeing false to me.
I should've asked to read too –

A brilliant day was had today at the regional picnic in Hainault Forest Country Park and a group of us of an intellectual bent sat on chairs in the sun and discussed the Aga Khan.  I went to the forest to which I last recall going as a child on a school trip with Northbury infants.  Much to my dismay it wasn't how I'd remembered it, not dense enough either but we pulled off some rather sweet raspberries to eat.

Oh God! No, I think I'm better at using the past tense to record what has passed rather than the present tense which I've considered using.  The decision derives from recently having immersed myself in Alan Bennett's journals and I think I'll never get the hang of it and anyhow it feels funny writing in that way so I'll give up thinking about it and shan't.

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