Wednesday, 23 May 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: Photos and Extracts - funerals and crematoriums

During the writing of ABIDE WITH ME, it became evident funerals, and by association - cemetaries - would play a part.  I knew these would be amongst some of the more emotive scenes in the book, so I had to get them right.  Like most people, I have been to the funerals of loved one.  I have suffered loss.  I was confident in describing the feelings involved in these particular scenes in the book, but I needed something to hang them on.  Something tangible.  At the time I'd come to these places in the book, though, I was so lost in the words and the lives and the deaths of these people, I went straight through the description stage, thinking I could pen them in later. 

One of the first things I did was to contact the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authority, regarding some of the details of a creamation.  They were very helpful, and provided me with everything I needed to know about cremations procedures in 1979 here in the UK.  But I was straying.  You see, I'd forgotten why I'd contacted them in the first place.  I'd contacted them because I couldn't rememeber the details of the cremations of loved ones I'd been to.  All I remembered were the feelings. 

And there was the clue. 

I'd strayed from the pov of John.  I'd strayed because these parts of the books were hardest for me to write - too raw, you know - and I was seeking comfort in details.  But if I was to stay true to John I had to jump back in and cry with him.  So I thanked the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authority people for their time and information, and filed it away in the bin.

I became John once more, and through his blurred eyes I described what he saw.

The first cemetary in the book is the City of London Crematorium, down Aldersbrook Road, in Manor Park, East London.  After one of the pivotal scenes in the book - which I won't describe here ;)  - John returns to the City of London Crematorium some years later:

London City Creamatorium - Main Gate (photo courtesy of Tomylees)


'I'm standin outside the gates of the London City Crematorium. The iron gates are shut. A big fuck-off padlock makin sure it stays that way. I fall to me knees and I'm lookin through the bars, holdin on tight, and it scares the shit outta me cos I dunno if I'm on the outside lookin in or on the inside lookin out.
From ABIDE WITH ME, p. 133 

Funnily enough, when I first wrote that little scene, I had no idea if the City of London Crematorium had big, massive gates.  I just thought it might.  Imagine my delight when after the book was finished I started going round some of the places I referenced in the book and found the City of London Cemetary had the biggest gates I've seen in my entire life.  I forgot to take a picture, mind, and the above photo comes courtesy of Tomyless over on Flickr.

And finally, not wishing to give any of the plot away (blimey that was a very bad, and entirely unintended pun, wasn't it), and especially for those who have read the book already, here's the one you've all been waiting for.

Tissues at the ready . . .

 Graves at Batking Cemetary

I'm not all finished yet with the Photos and Extracts feature.  A few more yet to go.

Have a great day, everyone.

All the best,


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