Parlaiment and Patti Smith.
I take my new teeth to The Southbank Centre at about 9am. I am in pain. The problem is this. I really enjoy food but I’m unable to eat anything that needs chewing. Basically I have been eating soup all weekend. So occasionally I chew the soup cause then it feels like a meal. But there is only so much soup one can chew. It’s not even chewy soup. I am not even sure chewing soup is altogether sane.
Southbank Centre is gorgeous. Sun has hit it. I work at The Riverside Rooms and then at noon I set off for a quick cycle to parliament. Seconds after leaving the office Jane Bees, adynamic worker at Southbank asks “Do you mind if Patti is at our meeting?” We’d organised to meet (Jane and I) at 2.30pm in a Southbanks eatery . “Patti?” I asked “Patti Smith ?” I blurted “no. I mean no..yes... I don’t mind... yes ofcourse ”
I have had the honour to read alongside Patti Smith twice before. Once at the Southbank and once as part of Cries from The Heart where Smith had the audience both in the palmof her hand and on their feet in ovation. Here’s the picture of that finale. I wasover the moon with the idea of meeting her. I was in Pain. I was going for lunch at Parlaiment for the first time, another momentous occasion of the day.
12.30pm and I enter the glass building of Port Cullis to the right of Big ben of the palace of parliament . Chris Waterman about five ten with a shock of blond vibrant hair meets me on the other side of security within the building. Chris Waterman who is presently the colleague of formidable Baroness Helena Kennedy has invited me for lunch after our chat at the Directors of Childrens services conference.
Considering the government was my legal parent for the first eighteen years of my life entering the large atrium of port cullis is like entering the home of the Alien Mother.Chris loves literature and was once the co-organiser of The Word Festival which spread the length and breadth of London boroughs preceding The London Literature Festival. In a whisk Chris takes me underground and through a tunnel beneath the road to The Houses of parliament. This is amazing.
We find ourselves in the central Lobby. I don’t know if he did it deliberately but we stood still in the central lobby as The Speaker of The House walks walks past in ceremonial dress while the mace is carried before him. This before a police officer announced “hatsoff”. It is a surreal moment where time stood still as the procession happened before me. The Speaker is Michael Martin the first and only speaker ever to resign and will only make this ceremonial journey a few more times. This was history in the making him. Tosee him in all the pomp and ceremony reminds me of a poem I wrote called TheEmperors Proclaimer.
Chris takes me to see the house of lords (coloured green) and the commons (coloured red). Memory may have mixed these colours up. I walk through the cloak room for the Lords and see the coathangers room where the brass hangers upon dark wood holdings are adorned with the names of each lord or baroness. “It reminds me of a school coat hanging room.” Says Chris. Each of the hangers have names above them. I see Baroness Lola Young’s.
We have lunch and though I begin with Soup I attempt salad as a main and I can’t even eat that. The pain shoots through my teeth. I eat a quarter and leave it. The problem is I am soOOoo hungry. And now I am in Pain and still hungry. At 3pm I go back to the Southbank and then straight home with a pulsating headache. When I get home there is a message from Jane, “Lemn where are you. Patti and I are here!.”