Wet Rain

Posted by Jeni in | 18 May 2017

Rain is pitter pattering on the sky light.

Emmy, in disgrace, is sitting on the armchair, having crunched her way through something.

I got out of the bean bag and saw a dead, bloody corpse.

Took my glasses off, put on yellow rubber gloves. Scraped the remains into a very big plastic bin bag and dumped it in the dust bin.

The bloody stain made me feel sick. All that bloody murdering on the telly is dealable with - tomato sauce makeup - but in real life. Yukkety yukkety yuck

One of the tree surgeons brought back the tray of empty mugs. For the past two days I've been giving them tea and biscuits. Four mugs with milk. Today there were five. Very nice young gents. Only to discover that the gaffer had tried to talk the neighbour out of it but couldn't make his point so an Oak Tree over 200 years old has been lopped and sawed, damaged and humiliated so that there is more light in their house. Our new neighbours are sweet, young people. But they have broken my heart, not to mention the tree.

Climbed into my little red car and drove to Tunbridge Wells Crematorium. The rain lashing down. A cliche. Parked by the chapel, then climbed back in to go to the crematorium. Lots and lots of people for a dear man who had touched our hearts.

Not much black garb, mostly normal colours. One poem and tears. 'Starry Starry Night' played as the coffin rolled in. Our man had jumped off Beachy Head so we had to leave out verse five of 'Amazing grace'. Speculation as to his motives abound. The favoured one is that he had lost his sight and could not come to terms with going blind. Tragic.

Everybody has a suicide story, it's not the kind of dinner party conversation I like. We adjourned to a pub where his baker son had made cookies and slabs of chewy cake.

It was a gentle affair. People who hadn't seen each other for years sat with coffee and G&T's to talk about him and honour his generosity and hidden kindness. I met a five week old baby, the daughter of an ex pupil of mine. She from a family of thespians who are all doing their stuff, including her. She's off to New York with her Olivier nominated performance. The nipper in tow.

As one goes out the door another one comes in.

The rain fell heavy on my car's roof. I got home in time for the news. But to tell you the truth the political arena stinks. Self serving politicians clawing their way up the greasy pole. And yet we must vote, we must be responsible. What with the Trumpeter from the Orange Lagoon, lying his way into the history books, I'll be glad when it' all over.

Emmy is sitting on the armchair without a care in the world. Cheeky puss....

Theres a lot been happening, health returning, new opportunities sprouting. The old man is in Richard the Third at the Arcola. The dawter is ready to launch her video and release her first EP, move into a Hackney warehouse and invite us round for quinoa. I'm writing when I'm not planting cauliflowers, courgettes, cucumbers and garlic.

This wet rain is very welcome. The smell of the earth, the plants drinking it up. And Emmy curls up on the armchair leaving a bird or mouse family parentless. If she were a dog I could call her a bitch, but she's an old cat who thought she was being kindly bringing me in an offering....

I was given a bunch of freesias on Sunday. They've all opened up. Smelling them makes my mouth water. Take that Emmy, next time bring me flowers.

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democracy

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 26 April 2017

Poppy Pee Wee and Fred, I dare to blast my blog with my own political views because its my blog.

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June 8th.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 18 April 2017

Ive got the fear of the Devil, that if there is a snap election, the Tories will get in with a bigger mandate than before and we will see yet more dismantling of everything.

Schools will be taking lessons, in poly tunnels, in the fields of mouldy strawberries, as all the busy migrant workers have gone and the only people available to pick that soggy fruit are Brexiteers who haven't got their hands dirty since the Profumo affair.

Unless, of course, you are able to afford to send your entitled children to expensive tutors that will cram their heads full of economical facts and figures so they can enter the hallowed halls of the 164 - and soon to be more - grammar schools whose ethos is still clinging onto mortar boards and league tables.

Hospitals will be performing operations in the bowels of dwindling sick houses, unless, of course, you are able to afford private heath care that will only pay up when you are facing a double leg amputation and a tonsillectomy, and even then beware of any complimentary treatment because the rules don't allow for any kind of holistic approach. Even cemeteries are getting overcrowded as people are dying to get in.

Maternity units will be closed down, as untended gooseberry bushes and ancient storks will be hired to do the job whilst Russian landlords build luxury condos on the rubble of torn down community hospitals. Wealthy foreign nationals will purchase our assets. NOT your Syrian or Bulgarian kind of Johnny Foreigner mind you, only your friendly Oligarchs who make their money from selling arms to those nasty little Muslim countries, Sunni or not it's still a load of old Shiaite.

Roads will be tolled, trains will be appropriated, high streets will be closed, The Cotswolds will flourish, S.E.London will be sold to the highest bidder, East London will sink into the pockets of Hipsters, North London will fall under the pressure of intellectuals who know how to discuss the pros and cons of dialectical materialism but don't know the price of a tomato, or how to woo the masses. West London will become a new runway and Central London will become a car park for non-tax-paying-multi- millionaire-oil-tycoons, whose 350.000 Ferraris could buy three semi detached houses in South Shields to house the homeless. Not to mention the buy-to-leave Chinese owned penthouses standing empty whilst their doorways have become domiciles for the abandoned, which overlook rusty bus-stops where our humble Route Master bus will soon charge by the inch and only the wealthiest of citizens will be able to travel.

The old will wither, the young will decay, the carers will crumble, the volunteers will vanish, the mad will wander, the ill will languish, the poor will eat offal and celebrity magazines will publish photographs of women with implanted bum cheeks and vacuous Royal weddings that will leave the Patriotic slurping their hot, weak tea out of their Taiwanese tea cups.

There is an alternative but it's too damn simple. There is no profit in being nice to each other, there is no return on getting old, there is no pay out to be had in extending love to all humanity. There is no capital to be made out of kindness and generosity. There is no bang for a buck unless you are a wheeler dealer, money obsessed fiscal banker, with the eye on the short term and not a care for the world as you star in reality programs made on Islands owned by money obsessed fiscal wankers, whilst sipping champers out of privately owned troughs.

There is an alternative to fake news and climate change deniers. There is an alternative to selfishness, there is an alternative to treating senior citizens as if we are dribbling twits. There is always an alternative, to a world that is tipping on its axis, There is an alternative to spending money on Sarin gas as opposed to saving the Coral; there is an alternative to war war, there is an alternative to ignorant men who think they know it all. There is an alternative to a British Broadcasting Company that feeds its audience, on Home Counties rhetoric whilst pulling close its nets on genuine debate. There is an alternative to wicked thinking. There is an alternative to Political Correctness. There is such a thing as uncorrupt democracy. There is humour and truth, fairness and objectivity. There is fun and compassion, love and forgiveness, which we must tease out and stand by and we must remember that individually we are one drop together we are an ocean

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Up up and Away.

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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Black and blues.....

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

BANG.

WALLOP.

THWACK.

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 that?'

'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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Chartwell

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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The Scream.

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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Marching against the windbag.

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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