Monday, October 14, 2013

Movie night in the cemetery

It was just your average Tuesday. I went to work, did some incredible gadget ninja skillage, and then went to meet my new friend Two and her boyfriend Olive at Brompton Cemetery to watch Donnie Darko. Oh yeah, everyone normally watches movies in cemeteries here, it's totally a thing.


This was totally a special occasion - a movie in a cemetery! So amazing! And it wasn't just an ordinary cemetery, it was Brompton Cemetery.

No, it doesn't have any historical significance, at least not that I'm aware of (except that apparently it's one of the Royal Park cemeteries and is one of the finest cemeteries in the quoted by their website, which can be found here). It's just...a gorgeous cemetery. With a very nice running path through it, by the way. Which I am sure they always planned for when they made it. Oh yeah, definitely part of the planning. Let's lay down a concrete path so people can run past dead bodies everyday. Part of every cemetery planner's thoughts I'm sure. How to bring the community in.

I'm being sarcastic. But the part about the nice road down the middle is actually true.

I thought it was a bit odd, but this was a really nice cemetery. I'm not one for burying bodies (since I believe there are too many people in this world and I'd like to cease taking up space when I stop breathing, but that's just me), but this is a pretty classy joint. The English believe in it though, and because of that, they've done some pretty excellent things with the place. Just look at this gorgeous layout and the artistry in the headstone masonry:

I didn't take many pictures because I thought it might be considered rude or somehow uncouth of me to be taking photos of dead people and their final resting places, so you'll just have to believe me when I say there was a fantastic variety of angels, cathedral-like sepulchers, and headstones. I was deeply impressed.

One thing I will add as a side note though: no matter what you do with angels in a graveyard, time will eventually reduce them to skeletons. They may be the most gorgeous females when you start out, but eventually the weather, time, and just plain human activity will wear them down and you're left with noseless, armless, starved-looking creatures. Even posed they look scary after awhile. Nothing you can do about it. I don't think there is a way to make a cemetery not-creepy. But I guess that just adds to the overall eventual character and charm.

But I digress. I walked the path down the middle of this cemetery (which is quite large by the way) and eventually made my way to the impromptu theater. It took me a solid fifteen minutes walking to get to the end, where everything was set up.

I signed in with the registration table, received some complimentary chocolate, and sat down to reserve seats for my friends. It was the perfect setting for Donnie Darko. 

These films are being put on by a little group called Nomad Cinema. They choose appropriate locations for certain movies and boom, instant atmosphere. They were showing Edward Scissorhands the next night (same location), but had shown Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo in a cathedral the month before. I think you get the idea. I love it, absolutely love it. And in a city like London, with its variety of venues (many of which are abandoned or otherwise not being used)'s perfect. How could anyone resist? I could not. Obviously.

As I waited for my friends to arrive the weather darkened, adding to the ambiance. And my hunger. And the coldness, which I had accounted for with my pre-season peacoat and scarf (much grumbling going on in my head how my friends in California are enjoying an unnatural heatwave of 95F/35C). What I did not account for, because the weather forecast had told me that it would be clear, was rain. I know it's stupid to live in London and not account for rain but...well, I didn't. They said it was supposed to be dry! And umbrellas wouldn't be allowed anyway, since they're obstructive to others watching the movie...and just plain rude in many outdoor venues.

Luckily Two came a minute later so I could go to the singular food truck that had come for our eating enjoyment, which distracted me from the weather. It dogs!

What the hell is a fish dog, you ask? 

It's basically a hot dog made of fish! Just kidding.

It's a fish stick in a hot dog bun. Basically fish and chips but wrapped in bread:

There were even mushy peas at the bottom for my delicious taste experience! I thought that was a nice touch.

I slathered the thing in tartare sauce (which oddly tasted like olive tartare sauce rather than the normal pickle variety) and smothered one portion of my fries in "ketchup" (the European version of ketchup which comes in a tomato-shaped has a similar consistency to that of American ketchup but it has more vinegar and stranger spices...something reminiscent of Chinese five spice).

We then returned to our seats for chatting and eating. 

It was...delicious! Breaded and fried pollock on a fairly nice bun. Perfectly fried and not at all overdone. The tartare sauce I could have done a little less with (I was heavy handed, as I always am with creamy sauces), but it was still incredibly enjoyable. The best part? The fries. They were either cooked in rosemary oil or drenched in them or had rosemary salt or something...incredibly tasty. I could taste the rosemary on them. They die for. I've always loved fries with an unnecessary passion (hence why I stay away from them and chips all the time), but these were magnificent. I savored them for as long as possible.

And then the food was gone. We chatted as we covered ourselves more from the rain. Luckily Two and Olive had planned better and brought ponchos for themselves, leaving me to cover myself with their woolen blanket, recently acquired during their trip to Scotland. I love having well-prepared friends (usually I'm one of them!).

Soon enough the movie started and I was transported back to high school, when Donnie Darko originally came out. If you haven't seen this film and love oddly contemplative early-2000's films about angsty teenage boys and the science of time travel, I would suggest it. Recommend it, even. 

Oh, and if you're not afraid of terrifying-looking rabbits. I forgot that part. Well, I didn't forget it, because that's the one thing everyone remembers about that film. Frank. was good to see it again. I remembered times that were simpler. People were still shy and it was okay. Liking someone was enough. Less about the internet, phones, technology in general. Just...being.

We parted ways at the tube station and made promises to get together again soon. 

And life continues as it was before. But now I've seen a movie in a cemetery.

1 comment:

  1. Ketchup actually evolved from a Chinese sauce made of pickled fish and spices... so I'm guessing the European one is closer to the original based on your description.

    Also, I didn't think about Frank until you mentioned him! I always remember the weird time tube thingies.