The Bard's birthday

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 23 April 2007

I've had my fix of 'Corrie' and eaten last night's left overs. I've talked with Jim, who's in the flat, and written up a treatment for a new show so now it's time to reflect on Sunday and today.

I spent all weekend cooking. I made so many curries that I swear my underarms smell of Madras chicken. I took BB back to halls last night, then drove across London to the flat and delivered Jim his bag of clothes and goodies. He drove up to town on his motorbike.

Now before you think 'how grand are they with a flat in town and a country residence', the truth is that when I worked at GFL the studio rented me a flat so that I could work 5 days a week. Since I started at sparrows fart and knocked off anywhere between lights out and 'time gentlemen please' it was eminently sensible to stay in town.

I used to have a wonderful driver called Flav, who collected me every morning at 6.00 and took me home every afternoon. But four hours travelling, every day, took it's toll and soon Flav was as exhausted as I was. We agreed that his money would become my expenses, that he would go off to pastures new and I would stay in London Town.

Uncle 'Eo, my lovely floor manager, knew the area, so he came out flat hunting with me. The second property i saw was overlooking the wonderful Thames, opposite Chelsea harbour. Very posh with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a little utility room that got so hot my smalls dried in 10 minutes. My larges took a little longer.

First l lived in Number 3 but the landlord came back. So I went searching for another flat with as much character. In the end I went to another estate agent who sent me off to a first time landlord. It was no 13 in the same block, with exactly the same layout. Too spooky really since all my stuff came down two flights. It all fitted in like a jigsaw. I have the same view only I am closer to the river, so when suicide tempts, it's just one almighty belly flop and I'm away with the fishes.

But now the hard truth is I don't have any expenses so keeping the flat on is a massive headache, but also a real bonus since it now takes Jim 20 minutes, in rush hour, to get to the Globe. Now he is living in London and I am in East Sussex. When will we two meet again? Maybe that's why we've lasted 30 years - we're never together.

I once made a programme for LWT called 'The Good Life Guide'. I interviewed married couples who lived apart all week and then met at weekends. They all said they loved their lives. They never talked about the mundane to their partners. No conversations about the dustbin not being emptied of the dog-do on the lawn. Always deep meaningful conversations about art, philosophy and current affairs. And they said that coming together was always joyous and new. Yeah, try telling that to the flying pig-man. When Jim and I get together we spend the first two hours arguing about what the other one didn't do and how the other one wouldn't do it like that anyway. And then it's time to go home.

Anyway, I dumped off Jim's bag, cleaned the sink, which my gorgeous nearly-son had filled with cornflakes. Then, through my varifocals (I wear my lenses on telly), I looked into my husband's eyes, and asked him meaningfully whether he wanted me to stay as Monday was his first day at his new job.

He looked at me meaningfully through his varifocals and said he didn't give a monkeys what I did. After we had finished trying to look at each other we flipped a coin. I ended up driving back to East Sussex.

The roads were clear but by the time I got to Crystal Palace I wanted to be with Jim. Too late he was already on his third glass of wine and heavily into the snooker.

I fell asleep in our big 6'6" bed all alone, but unlike 'The Police', the bed was not too big without him. It was just the right size to stretch out my legs and arms and still have room for the dog.

Today I went for a very long walk with the hound in Ashdown Forest. The gorse was as yellow as Cornish butter and the blue bells were unfurling. I shopped for supermarket bits, which I always hate. I feel very, very guilty shopping in the big stores. I was always getting told off on GFL for slagging them off, but I don't know where else to buy washing up liquid or Persil squashy sachets.

Then I made lunch for a girlfriend and myself.

It's asparagus season!

It slipped in very quietly, early this year, so I made six asparagus tips, each boiled in smoky salted water for three minutes only. Then I fried a blue-shelled egg in butter until the whites were just turning crispy, laid the asparagus tips on a plate drizzled over the browny butter and laid the yellow-yolked egg on top. Fresh bread and butter and a cup of tea. Mmmm...

I always take my tea black. In and out and shake it all about - if it's a teabag. My fave working mens teabag is PG decaffeinated.

Then into town for my dollars for San Diego. Two for the price of one pound. Yippee! Then I bought a flowery little cotton bath robe, a pink wash bag, 6 new pens and two pink notebooks. What's with the pink? I think I may be turning into a girly.

Jim called and regaled me with tales of his first day at the Globe. He's acting with a bloke called Pip BIrd who I worked with back in 1980. I nearly typed 1890. It feels that long ago.

The cast had a read through.

They met each other.

They exchanged call times.

Then they went upstairs and celebrated the Bard's birthday.

The 21st century and adult types are drinking bubbly to a man who wrote poetry hundreds of years ago. Long live the old, I say.

I told Jim about my day, which felt decidedly pedestrian, and then, before you could say 'Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!', it was time for 'Corrie' which I have just watched, but then you knew that!

I am now in a different new furry bath robe. Not the one I am taking to America, but another I bought earlier which I have decided to keep but will not be taking to San Diego since it is better made for Arctic conditions, not a desert destination!

Now it is time for the news, so I will love and leave you. Oops, me bath robe has got caught on the revolving chair. Help... Cu2morrer.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At April 24, 2007 3:53 AM christian wrote:

Well well I bet Sybil can hardly wait to see you all in PINK.......hopefully when you get back from foriegn lands you will be in the PINK yet again.I have a sneeky feeling you will be..

C xx

2. At April 24, 2007 8:39 AM Martin and David in Brighton wrote:

Hello Jen

We too have a long distance relationship. We've been together now for 16 years (we were very young when we met, of course!). Jobs being jobs, I now drive to work just north of Brighton to Haywards Heath (somewhere you may know quite well - great butcher in the small shopping centre), while David leaves Brighton each Sunday eve and flies up to Glasgow where he currently works with BBC Scotland, returning on the Friday. We spend weekends either at home in Brighton or on our boat at Brighton Marina - a little bit like a floating caravan, I suppose, and it makes for an interesting cooking challenge when the sea gets wobbly! I must say that while I have found the weekly separation strengthening (it's been about 18 months so far), like you our initial conversations tend to revolve around "why do I come back and still have to do everything"? (I'm afraid mine are hands that have never done the washing-up...) before we remember why we got together, and why we stay together. But it seems to work - and 16 years isn't bad, is it?

Anyway, hope you escape from the revolving chair, and that your negotiations are going well. Have fun shopping for San Diego.

M&D

3. At April 24, 2007 8:50 AM Libby wrote:

Hi Jeni
Well you can't do my lawn now, it's been rained on!! Loving the comments about Marked up Kitchen, I only watched it for 10 minutes, tedious, and actually uncomfortably painful to watch, apart from the dreary presenters,I think they have hired the cameraman from The Blair Witch Project.
Keep your chin up you are loved by us all.
I'm off to get my buy one get one free dollars today ready for my trip to the big apple. (going in May after Bruges)
Love you loads
Marmite Girl xx

4. At April 24, 2007 10:20 AM kerri wrote:

Hi jeni
Oh how i am missing you and GFL, i work nights (night sister) and i used to come home at 8am and watch the repeat of yesterdays GFL, i watched for five minutes today with camila's son talking about sell by dates .... very boring. Enjoy San Diego will think of you while in my caravan! Just one more thing, if you lose masses of weight over there please think of this horizontaly and verticaly challenged woman (5'2" size 16/18) who would love your clothes! Take care xxx

5. At April 24, 2007 10:43 AM Simon Richardson wrote:

Dear Jeni

I too have seen the Market Kitchen carry-on, and do not know what the powers that be were thinking. GFL was good because you really did learn about food, etc., but it was so entertaining. MK is just a little too serious, and I can't bring myself to watch it. It just makes it even worse that you're no longer on my screen.

Hurry back to something, Jeni! Though I'm sure we'll allow you a wee break.

Simon from Co. Down

6. At April 24, 2007 1:06 PM Samuel Crawford wrote:

And so UKTVFood have issued a ban on all GFL comments and thus was born the MK Resistance! Armed with baguettes and tins of anchovies packed in our old kit bags, we shall remain loyal to Queen Jeni of Barnett and her court-in-exile consisting of Mr Rimmer, Mr Baines and a broken egg whisk. To the rallying tune of Lynsey de Paul's 'Sugar Me', we shall hold rallies bearing flaming rhubarb aloft.

God I need to stop that Valium lark.

xXx

7. At April 24, 2007 10:45 PM Rhianon wrote:

I never looked again at that market thingy programme. The first few minutes made me want to smack the presenters. You must be sick of hearing it, but I wish you were still on our screens.
Don't take this the wrong way, please, but there doesn't seem to be anyone left in screenland with a sense of the ridiculous. You know, someone funny and a bit jaundiced in their attitudes to faffing arseholes. You'll probably have to cut that out. Sorry. But then i'm knackered, and fed up of tatty, crappy, 'i'm an idol', 'ask me for my autograph' type telly.
You made a lovely difference from the thunderously dull t.v. stuff we're fed. It seems the viewers are treated as though we were some collective anonymity. Not people at all, just points on a scale. Do I sound cynical? Well......

8. At May 12, 2007 5:10 PM c lovedale wrote:

Used to look forward to watching GFL before I went to bed, it was informative, fresh each day and simply a great programme.Market Kitchen is laboured, fragmentary and false. Enjoy your hols but come back soon, TV needs more presenters of your calibre.

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.