Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 26 June 2017

I'm sorry about my absence but I can't be the only one who is confused, dazed, horrified, upset, appalled, angry and exhausted, by the chaos that is surrounding us. We all have our opinions, we all think we know what should be done, we all know who we want in and out and out and in. We all point our fingers and cowl under the pressure of thinking we're right, they're wrong. We know better, they know nothing.

Yet still the grass pushes its way up through the concrete.

Broadcasters scatter the news, 24 hours of relentless horror. 24 hours of wall to wall coverage of the splintering of people lives. Congratulating themselves on who can get closest to the bullets. Turn away if the pictures upset you. This report may contain language, images, philosophies that may upset you.

Yet despite the carnage, purple clover manages to spring up through the cracks.

There are those that say endings have to be brutal, that transformation is always difficult, that the old makes way for the new, that it takes innocent Martyrs to shed light into the murky corners. But with loss comes pain, unnecessary suffering, the emptiness of grief. We watch and cry, paralysed this side of the screen.

And yet the world spins round regardless.

Powerless in the face of cynical reportage. Who to believe?

Frustrated in the face of self serving politicians. Who to believe?

I weed the beans, pick the raspberries, water the flowers, walk bare foot in the grass, thinking that I can't be the only one who is dazed and confused.

Thankfully there are those out on the street doing, helping, caring, being. Whilst the elected still waffle and obstruct. Blame and deflect.

Who to believe?

When a country polarises it cannot pull together. When a country is riven with hate and anger, ignorance and intolerance, then the vulnerable suffer.

We await clarity.

We await calamity.

We fear the loss of free speech and democracy, we lament the loss of community and reason.

But, no matter what, the buttercups break through the bleakness. Shining their yellow faces to the sun.

The only constant is change, and change we must.

Tell me I can't be the only one who is exhausted by the chaos surrounding us.

Primary schools are introducing chess. Instead of signing up for computer club hundreds of children are signing up to play chess.

In the quiet they think. They interact. They engage.

Conviviality and co-operation, silent connection.

Check mate - here's to the future.

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Calamity Jen

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 7 June 2017

My little red car had to be collected so that it could face it's MOT.

I only remembered at 7.00 o'clock this morning. I had to have a replacement car as I had to get into town for a voice over. The 11.39 train was my chosen chariot. I stumbled into the bathroom and called G, our very efficient, well intentioned, motor mechanic.

'I'll be there in ten' he said. As bright as a button.

I dressed quickly putting my fleecy blue starred trousers on backwards, and my t-shirt on inside out. Made my way to the garage, stepping over leaves, twigs and broken branches from the latest June downpour.

Drove the car to the end of the drive and there was G, standing at the bottom of the slope, dangling the key for his courtesy car.

I walked back to the cottage, locked the door behind me, stepped out of my trousers and crawled back into bed with the actor who was snoring like a contented alligator.

I set the arm for 10.00, but woke earlier. Had a leisurely shower, applied me lippy, piled up 4.80p's worth of coins for the car park, the morning sun shining lemony through the kitchen window.

I went to my drawer to take out my wallet with my Senior rail card, Oyster card, bus pass, bank card, riffled through the joss sticks, cheque books, and receipts. It wasn't there.

A moment to recollect where and what I had done yesterday, the slow dawning of reality hit me. I had left my cards in my little red car. I put my phone on charge, grabbed the courtesy car keys, shouted out to the snoozing thespian, slid over the leaves to the car and drove like the clappers to the MOT garage.

Nellie the Rut was sitting outside the workshop, her door slightly ajar. Bloody god job I turned up otherwise her juice would have spilled out. Grabbed my cards, sprang back into the courtesy car and turned on the ignition.


Closed the door and tried again. Nothing.

Turned the ignition off, on, checked the lights, wiped the beads of sweat off my forehead. NOTHING.

Ran into the garage and the MOT man came and tried. Starter motor, battery, whatever it was the courtesy car was kaput. Dead as a Dodo. I had no phone, the the was taking away. The 11.39 was still within my grasp but....

I borrowed the garages phone since my mobile was charging on the glasses cabinet in the piano room. I called the old git.

'1p98723gkjsdv*$@ 9997avfpew8h' I said in perfect Anglo Saxon.

I knew he would be longer than shorter since this morning of all mornings, there were three sets of traffic lights outside our road. Four hundred men in yellow jackets were digging up 4 inches of earth.

Jim arrived. We had enough time to go back home, collect my phone and then drive to the station.

The 11.39 was 2 minutes late.

I meditated to Charing Cross, then walked swiftly to Great Tichfield Street.

On Regents Street I asked a post woman if she could point me to Great Tichfield Street.

'Yes I can Jeni, ' she said.
'Tich is down to Top Shop, walk towards Tottenham Court Road, it's second on your left.'

It's a good job I was on my best behaviour. I arrived on the dot of 1.00.

Sat down with three other artistes and we did our stuff. 90 minutes later I was back on the 3.00 o'clock train. Tried to do the Evening Standard crossword but have issues with George Osbornes editing.

Arrived in time for the 16.02 bus, full of noisy schools children and ancient travellers. Saw the old git drive past the bus, got off outside the pub, walked up the hill. Tickled the house key from its hiding place, fed the cat and celebrated my legal car.

Drove to the shop bought green veg and grapefruit juice, home to rustle up a stir-fry and settled down for supper in front of the box.

It's now 23.48, the 'oosbind is nearly home. The duck legs are sizzling in the oven, the stir fry replenished with greenery for him. Jazz FM is on, and my head is nodding....

Tomorrow we vote for our future. I'v got my polling card ready, and not a clue who will win. Perhaps the angels of mercy will be fluttering around, and whoever gets in will have our best interests at heart.

Out polling station is in the middle of green fields. An old church hall where my dawter used to go to nursery school. It has been home to the ballot box for years and years. If only walls could talk eh?

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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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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




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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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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