Amo Amas Amat

  Otis turns forty five in London.

posted 31/12/2022

Birthday High Jinks in Nunn’s Head Cemetery

The Night Was Hot,

The Moon was Full

The plan was to have a meal at The Vietnamese place near my place then go clubbing.

What could go wrong?

The diner was a low key friendly and cheap, where you could bring your own beer or wine and it was a Saturday and my actual birthday and our gang of friends from Scotland , Sydney, California and New Zealand and the UK. At forty five I was having a great time. My marriage was over and I was enjoying a bohemian drunken modus operandi involving occasional paid gigs, a cheap flat, and much drunken carousing. The plan for that evening was to go dancing in Brixton after a hearty meal.

That was the plan, but some of us got sidetracked by the promise of some coke so me and Tone and Craig all went round to Ruby Sue from Sydney’s place which was way across Peckam near Nunn’s Head .

We had a line or two at Ruby Sue’s and Tone stayed there and me and Ruby Sue and Craig set out for a quick walk up beside the graveyard just because I wanted to see it.

I envisaged a brief excursion but as we strolled beside the high fence I noticed a big crack in the wall, big enough that we could climb through it and get in, we crawled through an insane tangle of undergrowth and we were in a world of graves.

The night was warm and we capered around some really old tombs and … got lost.

The situation seemed absurd. We had no bred crumbs.

Try as we might there was no way we could find the opening , it was as if it had disappeared, but the place was amazing and it was still early so we went for a wander certain we could find some other exit.


High iron railings blocked us at every side. We were well and truly locked inside a creepy vast ancient boneyard.

The coke was wearing off but I had some whiskey and Craig had some cigarettes and I seem to remember Ruby Sue had a spliff so we got even more wasted as we staggered the broad avenues and wooded walkways eventually finding the main gates where a phone number was posted.

No reply .

At some stage I lay down on a park bench and had a snooze. When I awoke I was alone. I later learned that my friends lost each other also.

I tried shouting and wandered about but no joy .

Eventually I slumbered on a bench, the night was still and warm and it was getting light when I heard a van drive by in the distance. A few minutes later I saw it again , a cage on the back filled with foliage or dead tree limbs so I knew that help was at hand. Eventually I waved it down and had to explain myself to a gruff scary tattooed bald guy with no neck and “no” he hadn’t seen my friends and what the fuck was I doing here and why didn’t I just fuck off through the same way what I got in?”

He grudgingly let me out at the gates and I had a short wait for a bus home.

I later heard from Craig that he’d been let out separately and had no idea where we were either.

Ruby Sue’s story was much much better.

She’d given up trying to find us and had decided to nap among the tombstones on a slight rise near the main gates so when the groundsman drove in and stopped his van and got some tools out of a shed the noise had woken her and she stood up and stretched .

He saw her rise up in her pale dress in the misty half light.

The scary looking no necked cemetery worker saw her and staggered and fell to the ground in fright.

She laughed and he was enraged and spluttered and fumed as he let her out.


( Nunn’s Head gets its name from Henry The Eighth’s decapitation of a bunch of nuns whose sorry heads were displayed there on pikes.) 





Amo Amas Amat.

She was tapping the dish brush on the side of the sink as she looked out her kitchen window into the cold Toronto dusk..



She's gotta go soon. It's Tuesday night. Latin class.


In her mind she goes over some tricky verb declensions, or are they conjugations?


Runs some more hot into sink.


Her car is parked blocks away and she knows it's a dangerous walk.


It's dark now and it's starting to snow.The first flakes seem to swim up to the pane.


She thinks of the little bag in the hiding spot behind the book case as she gets into her coat and she chooses the ski gloves with the small coin pocket - a tiny toot will be a hoot- she smiles as  she thinks she might wind up at  Cindy's after class.


 Fucking Tuesday nights! and the elevator stinks of piss again.


  Now she's on the street  and there's that guy. Probably a speed freak. He's up ahead, heading away from her, scuttling up the street, hopefully not looking for latin scholars to mug.



He's seen  her and he knows where she's parked , that stuck up librarian bitch probably with a good job and yeah - a fat wad of cash in a wallet tucked into some warm inner pocket  and if he's quick he'll make it  to the corner, and just beyond that, the alley with the dumpster. A perfect spot.



She half  thinks about the sink as she tries to remember declensions. She  takes her keys from her pocket and carefully bunches them into her gloved hand so they splay between the fingers in case she has to fight off some attacker. Can never be too careful round here- she thinks of the little bag in her pocket of her left glove and hopes it doesn't get mushed if she has to fend off an attack.. If only her mum could see her now; "young urban intellectual street survivalist and recreational drug user"! on her way to a Latin class she's only really doing so she can get next to Cindy. "you're not 29 anymore gal"


He's made it to the  the dumpster alley in plenty of time and is standing back in the shadow waiting for her. Freezing. That old frozen wind off the lake. His teeth chatter and he taps the brickwork with his screwdriver in time with his teeth, but at half the beat. Now fours. Now it's a waltz.


She's approaching  and the wind picks up the tapping sound as she nears. Tap tap tap...

Barely registers as she thinks back to washing the dishes before she left.... the dish brush , the hot tap.

'Fuck!' she's left it running she knows it ! No!  Yes!!. Slithers to a stop on the icy sidewalk. Turns and runs back the way she came.

He hears her say "fuck" quite clearly. Confused he jumps out from his cold corner, but she's already running like hell away from him.

"biiiiiiitch " and he throws the screwdriver. An amazing shot. Spinning straight for the back of her head. But she ducks and it sails over.

She hears someone scream behind her and then a familiar jangle at her feet. It's her own keys she's lost the grip of, and now they're skating down the pavement in front of her, she ducks and scoops them up. Hardly breaks her stride as something whizzes over her head and breaks the wing mirror off a van.

Back through the front door, up the five flights, two at a time.

puffed, "you are surely not 29 anymore gal".

The door of her apartment, first the main lock, then the deadbolt , last the Yale, rushes in, into the kitchen .

Stares at the sink....