A friend has moved north out of London in search of space and time.
God being the only landlord with unwanted rooms, he found his empty space in a large post-Methodist chapel. An atheist son of a Buddhist father, my friend delights in his personal programme of deconsecration – drinking in the schoolhouse, fornicating in the vestry and a dog housed in the chapel. Above Brindle’s dog bed hangs a sign – ‘Beware of the God’.
Somehow, though, spaces always assert the ghosts of their previous function. In winter the freezing timbers impose a puritan austerity on the lives of him and his girlfriend. As part of his programme of renovation he’s taking delivery of a lorry-full of insulation. The pile of 8ft by 4ft boards needs moving inside from the churchyard and with a friend I help to shift the mountain. I’m walking backwards through the chapel as we go to place the first load against the wall in the far corner. Seen from the perspective of my friend, as I reach the corner of the enormous room I suddenly disappear – as if God has smote me out of existence. From my perspective, I’m walking backwards and the floor suddenly vanishes – everything becomes dark.
There is a pain in my lower back and I’m looking up through the floorboards at the ceiling and stained glass window of the Victorian chapel.My friend finds me at the bottom of an open 5ft hole that Gerry forgot to mention.