Posted by Jeni in | 26 March 2017
My birthday included one meeting.
A box of Macaroons, a bottle of champagne, candles, soap and a tiny pink pistachio cake with coffee.
A walk down Tottenham Court Road, open mouthed at the newness of the tube and the loss of my youth.
Lunch in China town, with dumplings and garlic shoots.
Another meet in Soho.
A trip to the Odeon Leicester Square, where the dawter and I enjoyed 'Beauty and The Beast'.
A top deck on the 38 bus to Hackney.
Supper in 'The Diner', which was so like America my guts churned at the noise and the tattooed waiters.
A meeting of the 'oosbind, a walk to the car and then the anti-climax.
The actor had left his lights on and the battery had run flat. The AA were coming within the hour then changed it to outside the hour. The two sensible family members called a taxi and were intending on going back to the girls flat to get her keys to get her car to drive back and jump start the engine.
In the event the driver of the taxi opened his bonnet, connected the jump leads, was offered the journey's fare and a packet of fags, but declined both. A most generous of acts.
We arrived home at 1.00a.m.
Saturday saw the last of the actor's two shows. I cooked for friends. Roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup, cauliflower and peas in a spicy sauce, and danish pastries and why not?
The actor arrived home. Chekhov and Gorky finally put to bed.
Today was Mothering Sunday, a day that means as little to me as St. Cecilia's day. However we drove to Brighton. I sat at the table and was given a beautiful magical mug, a big balloon, a chocolate cake and too much food in between. The grandchildren played their part, and we drove home with me clutching my birthday balloon.
We arrived home, full of bubbles and bliss, I opened the car door and the balloon slipped away. Over the trees, into the night sky. i stood with my torch trying to see it. The wind took it north.
I felt like a 3-year-old, dealing with my first loss.
My lovely big heart balloon gone, flying through the air, flying over fields and streams, flying over roads and byways. Journeying off on its own.
Clocks forward, primroses, daffodils, narcissi, magnolia trees, fading crocuses, potatoes in and newly planted Hollyhocks. My parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, not to mention my marjoram, are flourishing, and the roses are budding nicely.
And as for me, I'm another year older, another year learning, another year, thankfully, alive.
How time flies - like my lost balloon.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 18 March 2017
So I pruned the ivy on the studio wall. I pulled the stems, I cut the dead wood, I filled the purple plastic holdall and emptied the contents into the incinerator.
It's a silver dustbin with holes in it.
I pruned and pruned and pruned. I tiptoed through the pretty lemon primroses which are everywhere. The clumps of purple crocuses are dotted throughout the garden. I've planted hollyhocks and lavender. Laying my trowel between plants - just like they taught me to do at Chartwell. So i will have a hedgerow of lush lavender. The old man replanted the raspberries. I planted up more lupins and a very delicately coloured foxglove.
So imagine the garden, getting neater and prettier by the minute.
I took old newspaper, a firelighter and dry kindling, and stuffed it into the incinerator, lit a skinny candle, then set fire to Sunday's news. I fed the dry leavers, and severed branches into the bin. Put the lid on, smoke came out of the chimney like the Steam Trains on the Bluebell Railway.
I've been making fire, weeding, making more fire, stoking and raking, then washing my clothes and hair, since I smelt of ancient smoke and my father.
Then on Tuesday I set about clearing behind the studio. A lot of our dead pets are buried there. Oscar, Dinah, Kipper cats, Jeremy, the spaniel, and the lurcher from next door. I raked dry leaves, adding them to the newly made bonfire, I cleared planks of wood and put them in the woodshed. I took lumps of concrete to the verge so I can take them to the tip on Sunday morning. I cleared and cleared. Had a cup of coffee in the sun with the old git. Then went back to the shady spot behind the studio when
I stood on the ruddy rake. The force of the handle on my head shot my glasses off my head into a mound of leaves.
I howled. Loudly howled. Jim said it was classic comedy action only it wasn't funny. The lump on my head came up. Not a tennis ball more an ostrich egg. Have you seen the size of an ostrich egg? Jim held me. I cried. When I looked at myself in the mirror I cried some more. Jim got me an ice pack and I sat dissolving Arnica in my mouth as the pain spread.
Off he went to The Arcola. The bump on my head had travelled down to my nose. It looked like I was wearing a knight's helmet, my head had gone flat into my nose.
Wednesday I drove to Brighton, with the hood down of my little red car. I listened to music and thought nothing of the blue swelling that was covering my forehead.
Stopped off in Lewes to buy a birthday present, then into a friend's for two cups of Earl Grey tea and chat. I did not mention the rake's progress.
Thursday saw me parking my car in the all day car park, buying a Travel card, and boarding the 9.51 to London bridge. A brisk walk to Borough Market, where I met with two friends I hadn't seen for 31 years. Canadian creatives who didn't mention the egg poking through my fringe. We had coffee and lunch and talked and talked then off I went on the Jubilee line to meet my new benefactor. More of him when I am allowed to tell.
I walked down Marylebone Lane, three different streets all following on from each other. I met with the delicious man, we talked for two hours. I came away my head aching from ideas not the rake.
Took the 38 bus to Hackney and met with the dawter in 'Tonkotsu', a delicious noodle type restaurant. We sucked on edamame beans, broccoli in mayonnaise and slurped our way through hand make Ramen and mushroom soup.
I leant forward to look at my dawter who said;
'What's what?' I said.
Took my little flip top mirror from my bag and there were stains on either side of my nose. I had no idea what it was.
'Oh! It'll be the rake' said the girl.
And by gum by 9.00p.m, two days after the accident, the bruising had come out either side of my swollen nose.
I took the bus to The Arcola, sat in the bar nursing my nose until Jim came out of 'The Cherry Orchard', and we drove home, in the dark. Arriving to pick up my little red car that was sitting on its own in the top car-park.
Home by midnight. And heated up left overs. Then a very welcome bed.
Thursday turned into today. The wind's up. The daffodils are being blown about, March brings breezes sharp and shrill shakes the dancing daffywatsits....
The stains have spread.
As I write I have two black eyes and a line of bruising over my right cheek. I look like I've been playing rugby with the North Samoan Rugby Team and taken them all on in a scrummage so tough i can't even try to explain.
It's now at 01.01 of a Friday night I've cancelled Chartwell, I've cancelled a birthday disco in Plumpton and I'm feeling sorry for myself. I am not accident prone, although I'm wondering whether it is some kind of self sabotage. I've never thought about where to put the tines of a rake before, I know now though. I've never slapped myself in the face with a wooden rake handle before, and I've never been this bruised, although working with Australian telly men back in the 80's comes a close second.
As an addendum, covering bruises with a blemish stick, does not make it any better it just looks like the 'oosbind has hit me round the head with a wok, which is something he would never do.
I must say that I've learnt that I don't really care what I look like, although maroon staining on my skin doth not become me. Tomorrow I'm mowing the lawn and pouring the grass onto the compost there won't be a rake in sight.....
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 22 February 2017
I turned the box on, and for no apparent reason I watched the advert for The National Trust. It's been on loads of times but this time it registered. I sat down at the lap top and brought up a form from the Trust that would enable me to volunteer.
Nearest place to me, a mere 16 miles away, is Chartwell, Winnie's gaff.
After a couple of emails I visited them last Thursday. Put on gardening boots and a puffy jacket with no sleeves, and set off. I had the written directions and a map. Still I got lost. From Penshurst Place, instead of going through Chiddingstone, I followed the road round. I could hear my own voice saying that Bidborough was on the way to TWells and I needed to go the other way.
I turned me little red car round and stopped in a layby. A very well spoken delivery driver pointed me in the right direction. A retired man of my generation driving a van full of overpriced groceries;
'Follow me' he offered. But I had to wait 8minutes for him and I was already late for the interview.
'Are you filming?"asked the driver.
He recognised me off the telly, I"m not filming I said but 8 minutes would make me seriously late.
I finally arrived, parked up and walked through to the restaurant. I was bought a Peppermint tea and given a guided tour of the herb and vegetable garden. Shown Gavin's water feature, which wasn't working, the potting shed where Harry from Grimsby was potting, then shook hands with the other female volunteers who were pruning fruit bushes. I could feel the healing energy seeping out of the newly turned earth.
Studying my map and written directions I set off to the cottage, 39 mins max, then eat lunch with the old git before he left for the theatre. Nearly two hours later and a detour through Sevenoaks, I finally arrived home, filled out the application forms and sent off my shoe size for my National Trust over boots.
I await my start date, and then I will learn how to harvest - in May - I'll be put to work in the garden. I will learn how to rotate a crop, call a spade a spade, take a lunch box and generally feel useful. Keeping our heritage alive, and me the old Jew from Mile End who wouldn't know how to cultivate a Jerusalem artichoke even if you paid me, which they don't, although they do give you petrol money.
It's been a tough one this getting old thing. I'm not ready for the Knackers yard but you could be forgiven for thinking that I should be put out to pasture. The shame of aging in a culture of aggressive take overs and closures, is pervasive. Colouring the grey, disguising the crows feet, pulling in the core flab and wearing appropriate clothing for an old crone is all consuming. Except I refuse to be defined by my chronology. I have been working just shy of 50 years. I have acted, sung, played, presented, written, eaten and cried my way to the top table. I have listened, cared, tripped up and risen from the ashes more time than the effin Phoenix.
I have been sacked, insulted, squashed and belittled. Told that that is just the way it is. But that is not the case. The way its is is only the way it is if we let it be so. Trump represents lazy thinking, mouthing baloney on behalf of a frightened so-called majority. Theresa May, our unelected PM, who has about as much compassion as a swollen slug. She doth not represent me, she represents politicians who fight amongst themselves whilst the Nation crumbles from the inside.
I'm damned if I'm going down silently. I will pull weeds, sing in a choir, campaign for the our planet, I will speak my truth, I will wear my dungarees rolled, I will flaunt my red lipstick and I will turn over Churchill's earth turning a bind eye to his political allegiance. I will created programmes that may never see the light of day because those in the big chairs deem me too old to be seen, but they won't stop me. I will talk to whomsoever I please, I will give my last 20 quid to the homeless guy who is startled at his new found reality. I will stand with placards outside our local hospital and I will condemn the self serving spokespeople of our wonderful country.
I am a second generation immigrant, my husband the grammar school boy from an illiterate Irish mob who signed their names with a cross. I will support my daughter in her creative endeavours and speak out at the injustice of her generations sadness.
And if I hadn't put the telly on and seen the ad I would never had known this is how I felt. They are closing The London Studios where I learnt my craft alongside Cilla and O'Grady. They have closed the BBC where I learnt how to speak to camera and eat creamy porridge with Victoria Wood. They have shut down TVam. They have sold off GFL's studio. They have appropriated my birthplace, sold the East End to the highest bidder, but I will wear my trousers rolled and remember what my belligerent father used to say that when Capitalism goes down we'll all go down with it.
Yeah, but not without a fight. Every time a blade of grass breaks through concrete I'm aware that nature is stronger than us, Chartwell here I come.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 27 January 2017
I drove to Ashdown Forest. Just me, in my little red car. A smattering of East Sussex drivers,driving slowly in well maintained old cars. My irritation started to bubble.
'MOOOOOOVE' I shouted. I felt a stirring.
I was driving to the middle of a forest, which is populated by walkers and dogs. I thought I would like to experience the primal Scream.
So I screamed.
Now as a child I always wanted to scream in a Hammer Horror kind of way. But I've always had a contralto cum baritone cum basso voice so soprano squealing wasn't in my DNA. I should have known then that I wasn't made to be a maid.
I screamed again. Opened my mouth and let out a roar. I tried expletives out of the window, but it didn't need words, just an open throated wail.
I could feel my solar plexus open. I screamed again, then again, and soon, despite my earlier musings I let out a soprano scream so piercing that the windscreen nearly shattered.
I screamed past the two pubs. I screeeeemed past the Army Camp, I bellowed at the turn off to Duddleswell Tea Rooms, I was sobbing and screaming, wailing and weeping. By the time I parked the car I felt nauseous. Literally sick to my stomach.
Rachel Riley, the numbers genius on countdown, can't bare the word 'Tissue' It makes her feel sick. The touch of the tissue paper and the association. She would have hated me, for the past year tissues have been my staple pocket mate. At least four man size sheets folded under my pillow, in my dungarees, in all of my pockets. I have a big box in the kitchen, one in the sitting room, two in the bedroom and a couple of boxes in my car.
When I climbed out of my little red car I had three tissues rolled up in my fleece pocket.
It was bitter. The ground still hard. I left my poles in the car boot. Two pairs of socks, lilac wellington boots, thick pyjama trousers, a thermal t-shirt, Jim's 70's fleece and a puffy gilet that should have gone to my nephew but he didn't want it.
I walked to the right. Down the hill, gingerly marking the frozen rivets in the mud. A vast view of frozen ferns, and gorse. Lulu, a scrappy Norfolk Terrier jumped up, a welcome gesture. I walked up the hill. Speaking out loud to myself. The gilet hood amplified my sounds. I said affirmations, I mopped up my tears. Then left at the top of the hill. Past the little water hole, over twisted tree roots, my lilac boots zig-zagging over icy puddles and then........
I saw the ground coming up at me. My wellington boots had let me down, literally let me fall down to the ground. 'Noooooo' the terror of breaking something again. My hands slid along the hard earth. My left knee skidded on stones. Ripped a neat 90 degree tear in my trousers. I rolled over, all four paws in the air like a cat. I rolled around on my back. I had bruised my hip but nothing wa broken. My palm was bleeding. I could pass it off as stigmata. My left knee was grazed, like an 8-year-olds. I used up two tissues to mop the blood. Only one left for my tears.
I walked on, nothing was seriously damaged, after all footballers dive and srape all the time. I walked back on myself, couldn't find the pathway through the ferns. A big shaggy English sheepdog followed by his big shaggy master came out of the thicket. And there was my little red car.
My hands were frozen, managed to unlock the boot. I slid into my seat and examined how many tears were waiting. Interestingly I was all watered out. Nothing left. I had screamed and cried enough.
I threw the tissues away in the Supermarket bin. Shopped for avocados and beer and arrived home bloodied.
This morning the wounds are healed-ish. The cat's shouting for food. Can't do my yoga cos my palm and knee are untouchable, but I will go out for another walk, wearing proper shoes. Just round the houses. I'll take bread for the chickens and dodge the slippery mud. The ground is softer, and after all that screaming, so am I.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 19 January 2017
Roman Road, in the Ashdown Forest, was hard soiled. My Nordic Poles couldn't smash through the ice. The leaves crinkled and the sun so low I couldn't really see the view, which was tweedy brown and gorse yellow. My wooly gloves were of no use, but my four layers of fleeces, sweaters and armless puffiness did the trick.
I bought three bags of kindling, since the old git's an actor at the Arcola at the moment, so any wood chopping or fire laying rests with me. I know how to deal with a chopper but buying a bag of split wood is easier.
The bird feeders go down in a day and the squirrels are unearthing acorns in the front garden.
January has given us 19 days, each one closer to the inauguration of the President Erect. Each day one step closer to a reality that befalls us all. I'm going on the Women's Only march on Saturday, first demo I've been on in years. I shall be wearing my pink pussy hat with pride, if I can get it knitted in time.
My favourite typo this year:
Mother texting her daughter: What do you want from life?
Daughter has an existential crisis. Thinking, reflecting and worrying that she doesn't know what she wants from life.
Mother texts again: Sorry love, effing predictive text, should had said what do you want from Lidl.
See you on the march.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 9 January 2017
There are days and then there are days.
The rain tap-danced on my hood, I was zipped up, only my face peering out at the bare trees. The mud stuck to my Wellington boots, my glasses foggy with the drizzle. I could have knocked into the new neighbours, or even the old neighbours, but decided that my mood, as dark as the clouds, would not be pleasant company.
I feel powerless in a sea of political turmoil. Jeremy Hunt lies. Theresa May lies. Donald Trump lies. They, of course, accuse their opponents of lying, They tweet - Twatting daily. Complex issues, difficult decisions reduced to 140 characters. Secret negotiations gobbed out in tiny sound bites. The disconnect between 'them' and 'us' is so great - and the gap is widening - that soon their 'them-speak' won't be understood by 'us-ears'. Only a few will speak their language, the few with the same tight fitting Emperors clothes. We are at the mercy of decision making, which as far as I can see, is not for 'us'. The 'thems' are dismantling hard won gains; from health, to education, from housing to transport. The 'thems' delight as 'us' turn against 'us'.
And as the silence descends we're turning to each other wondering what to do?
How to change things?
How to be heard?
How to trust?
How to care?
Weeping as we realise that it is impossible to argue with ignorance. It's impossible to reason with bigotry. When a human being believes they are SO right, when their sense of entitlement is SO embedded, when those privileged ears are deafened to the cries of the meek, then a new way of being must emerge. The old way is rotten. The new way is clenching it's buttocks as it tries to push its way up through the concrete. In the Torah it says that behind every blade of grass their is an Angel willing it to grow.
If you believe there are angels then there are , if you don't then they're arn't. But if we allow those thems to claim the moral high ground then who are we?
What are we witnessing?
Seemingly obvious views are trampled under hooves. Humanitarian demands are deemed wishy washy. Kate Hopkins and Nigel Farage are given air time to spout their twisted, nasty views, and yet and yet, as somebody who believes in free speech why shouldn't they have their say? Why shouldn't they be allowed to speak their truth?
Because their truth is perverted and cruel. It's divisive and wicked. I speak as the daughter of immigrants. I speak as an old crone who feels the need to apologise to the young for the mismanagement of their future. I'm tired of the slow, seepage of feculence that has been uncorked by the new orders' intolerance. The effluence that swills around us from their narrow minded narcissism. Let us die in the corridors whilst they walk the walk of the advantaged or NOT.
There is a big change coming, and we are all living through it. May we help each other along the way......
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 31 December 2016
Ill health gone.
Black dog chased off.
May we all have Unexpected Good.
That's courtesy of Michael Beckwith.
I wish you all health wealth, love and perfect self expression.
May Trump be eradicated, may Farage be erased, may Katie Hopkins be silenced, may the politicians of inhumanity be overtaken by love and light. May 2017 belong to all people of love and grace.
A massive thank you to you all for your love and support in what has been a fecking difficult year.
Roll on Year of the Rooster.
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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 7 December 2016
I don't watch jungle capers
I don't watch 'Honey G'
I don't watch 'Made in Chelsea'
I don't watch 'Dine with me.'
I don't watch pointless gameshows
I don't watch gambling capers
I don't watch politicians
Lying over papers.
I don't watch bitchy housewives
I don't watch 'Jordy Shore'
I don't watch naked dating
I don't watch much no more.
The parent funded hipsters
With jeans slung round their bum
Are now the reigning lunatics
Who run the as-y-lum.
The Trumpette of banality
In Plasma-ed homes
Have voted for brutality.
I know I'm biting feeding hands
I know I'm sounding horrid
But television, you must agree,
Is cheap and dumb and torrid.
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