As Halloween grips London, a graveyard tour sets out — and Dracula stalks a house in old Homerton

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Horses for courses — not necessarily, says Hasina Zaman: women can do what they want

HASINA ZAMAN and Allistair Anderson are on a mission to demystify death. They know whereof they speak, whereof most of us whisper, because they are funeral directors. And their firm, Compassionate Funerals, of Wanstead organises an annual tour of the City of London Cemetery and crematorium.

This year the date they chose was 31 October 2017. Yes, Halloween night, aka the day of the dead. The traditional “Don’t say ‘dead!’” undertaker would have been horrified but Zaman and Anderson said “Well, why not?” And it’s working out well: early confirmations of attendance at the event, which will include an exploration of the cemetery, chapel, crematorium chapels, crematory and catacombs, are good.

Hasina17: Allistair Anderson and wife-business-partner Hasina Zaman of Compassionate Funerals @ Wanstead N London © 3110717
Zaman with Compassionate Funerals business-partner Allistair Anderson

The event is for people who work in the field of, well, death, and sadly for anyone wanting a strong Day (Night) of the Dead experience, is available only by invitation.

Zaman and Anderson made headlines when they ran death café workshops in NE London in May 2this year 2017 during a national campaign to encourage conversation about death, dying and bereavement.

Zaman says: “Death is the most feared thing in the world. It’s the fear of the unknown in particular that really scares us.”

Her views have not appealed to everyone. She has even had objections from followers of her faith, Islam. Some clerics and other Muslims — yes, men — have objected to the very idea of a woman being outspoken, let alone taking a lead role in business.

They had to back off: Zaman may be well-mannered but her ripostes can be metaphorically deadly.

One Halloween happening less commercial than most but as whacky as any runs into next month among the creaking beams and wind-echoing nooks and corridors of one of London’s oldest houses, the spook-infested (sometimes it’s fun to fantasise) Sutton House.

Hasina17: Hasina Zaman of Compassionate Funerals @ Wanstead N London © 3110717
Undertaker Hasina Zaman at Wanstead: Tower Hamlets and Hackney have no usable cemeteries

Dracula, based on Bram Stoker’s disturbing novel of the same name, is being staged by Tea Break Theatre. It’s the company’s second bite at the venue: last year’s staging sold out.

An even more distinctive halloween experience is available also in Hackney. Hoxton Hall is presenting Hammer House of Horror Live – The Soulless Ones, billed as the “first immersive theatre show from the legendary Hammer Films”.

David Altheer 171017

* Compassionate Funerals is at 89a Aldersbrook Road, Wanstead E12 5DG; Dracula at Sutton House, 2 Homerton High Street, Hackney E9 6JQ, until Saturday 4 November 2017 at 7.30pm, £14 to £16 plus hard-to-calculate booking fee, and Hammer House of Horror Live: the Soulless Ones is at Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, Hackney N1 6SH, £48.50 to £52.50.

Pictures supplied by Compassionate Funerals.

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