Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 6 June 2007

I wish I had blogged yesterday because it was 5-6-7. Don't you love that kind of cosmic joke? Like looking at the clock and it saying 12.34, or it being 7.7.7, which it will be next month?

Anyway, I missed yesterday's joke. Today I am writing at 13.57. Nothing auspicious in that but a pleasant enough day so far. I was up early this morning even though I had been out on the Razz with two young guns last night, one of them being my daughter.

I was up early on account of my journey into town to do a voice over. My voice inter-cut with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor in a promo for 'Miss Potter', laying down half a dozen lines to lavish music. A great job in a studio in Holborn that had previously been the administrative offices for the British Museum - you could almost feel the intelligence in the walls. I was in and out in a flash. Ten minutes of pure delight.

But I was knackered because as well as going out, Jim, me and the child had a little musical soiree until the wee small hours. She played bass lines on the guitar, he whacked out the chords on a ukelele and I sang - all old songs. Beth didn't know most of them so after the 27th take of 'Pretty Baby' and 'Beautiful Dreamer', we all agreed it was time for bed.

It was such a lovely way to end the evening and something we hadn't done for years. Why can't we all have a more balanced existence? It's either all work and no play or all play and no work. I WANT BOTH!

Anyway, back to last night...

Myself and a certain Ms Shepherd went to Mama Cheri's book launch. Mama didn't recognise me on account of my reduced body mass but after the penny had dropped, she whisked me into the back room, which housed the bar, and hugged me profusely. This was not so much vino veritas as Honesty H2O style. She told me what she thought about the demise of GFL and we both shed a tear. Then out we went into the courtyard of 'The October Gallery' in Bloomsbury and nibbled on her chicken legs.

I hope her book does well. She deserves it, working as hard as she does. The launch was well attended. People had come from far and wide including the producer of 'Kitchen Nightmares', which is of course where Mama C got her first airing. Her restaurant in Brighton has gone from strength to strength thanks to Mr. Ramsey, although he didn't make an appearance. The producer and I had a chat. A lovely woman called Chris Hall. You may have seen her accepting the countless awards for her programme.

Then I spotted two ex GFLifers, both of whom are now working on MK. It felt weird knowing they were still 'at it' in a studio and I was trolling round like the idle rich I'm not. They said MK was going well which made me spit like a mangey cat. Jim told me off for unbecoming behaviour. I wished I had kept more of a cool, but my guard momentarily slipped. But I do wish all the young kids well, I really do. I believe the expression is 'Fake it till you Make it'. So, if I keep faking a calm exterior and a cool interior then it won't be long before I really am super-uber-gran. And then those telly moguls had better watch out.

The producer and I talked about ageist policies in the industry and how there had to be a jolly good reason for carrying on in the biz otherwise it wasn't worth the humiliation. Then the smell of barbecued meat made my salivatory glands work over time and I decided to leave before Mama Cheri could stick me with another one of her juicy spare ribs.

My young companion and I jumped into a taxi - my second of the day. We left Bloomsbury and headed north for Kentish Town Road. I know it well. For at least eight years, during my 20's, I was part of a Theatre Group called 'Belt and Braces'. The name came to us one drunken night in the Lord Palmerston Saloon Bar just up the road from Kentish Town in Tufnell Park.

B&B was a committed idealistic troupe of actors, musicians, writers and accountants who sincerely believed that with enough 'chutspah' and the right amount of dedicated rehearsal, we would be able to turn the tables in the United Kingdom and created a utopian society hitherto unseen.

All this was masterminded from a church hall In Vicars Road, Gospel Oak, a brisk walk from Kentish Town Road.

Arriving in a black taxi and paying the cabbie with a crisp 20 pound note was a far cry from my altruistic past when seven quid bought you a pint in the 'Mitre' pub, gave you rent money for a room off the Morden Road and still enough left over for a decent curry in The 'Dee Dah' Curry House opposite Chalk Farm tube.

We arrived at 'The Bullet Bar' in time to meet 'the daughter' for a night organised by 'Rocket' music, who were showcasing five new acts. I had been invited by Paul Roseby, he of the quickest wit and warmest sense of humour. He is one of the few people I really love in the industry. Apart from being one of the big wigs at the National Youth Theatre, he also writes great programmes for Radio 4 and has the ability to make me laugh almost as much as my husband does, but with his clothes on.

We talked a bit, he on vodka and cranberry, me on water. Then the acts began. The first was maudling, the second was short (That's in centimeters not duration), the third was Australian, the fourth impressive and the last ok, if a little arrogant. Mark Owen was there, talent spotting me thinks, but I didn't make myself known. I had interviewed him and 'Take That' 20 odd years ago for LWT, but rubbing shoulders with a newly minted band is a bit like name dropping, so I watched him from afar, marvelling at quite how quickly our lives pass.

We left late and jumped into a thrid black cab. By the time BB and I reached the flat I had spent as much on taxi's as a flight to the Czech Republic.

It was good seeing Jim again as I had been down in Sussex and he at the Globe. At least, I think it was Jim. I hadn't seen him for so long.

(Before I forget, I must say a big thank you. Your comments really do mean so much to me. Marmite Girl, welcome home and, thank you, Jill, but no, I don't need a personal therapist. All your comments are heart warming.)

Talking of the Czech Republic, Jim and I went out for a quick nosh this evening to 'Little Bay' on York Road. The decor is sleazy camp. Gold material is rouched around the ceiling whilst gaudy gold painted balconies are built up above the bar. It looks and feels like an Eastern European bordello at the turn of the century. Jim ate Smoked Pork Knuckle with saukraut and white beans. I had a plate of lettuce with sour cream. They added the cream free and gratis!

They also provided me with a bowl of onions, red peppers and pickled cucumber which I chucked over my green leaves. Jim had a Budweiser that had been brewed in The Czech Republic. Better than the American brew, he told me. His meal was completed with a small, strong coffee. I finished with a bowl of spinach and yet more clear water. It was really cheap and cheerful. The clientele who were lounging in the balconies were in their best outfits whilst us plebs in the stalls were dressed in unimpressive finery. I had on one of Bethy's old fleeces covered in candle fat whilst Jim still had on his 'Merchant of Venice' eyebrows giving him the look of a somewhat demented Einstein crossed with Groucho Marx.

We were talking about nothing in particular when suddenly very loud music blared out of the speakers above our heads. It was the backing track for 'La Traviata'. The door leading to the kitchen was thrown open, the waiters scattered and from the table behind us a young tenor, well turned out in his cleanest bib and tucker suddenly burst into song. A tall young woman with rigid posture opened her throat and throbbed out an aria in her best mezzo soprano. Luckily I had completed my masticating but many on the balconies continued chewing as the duo offered up their Vino Verdi.

As one song finished, the tenor disappeared behind a gold door. He changed the CD and new music filled the room. His jacket, by now covered in chalk from the whitewashed walls, did not deter him from giving us a fabulous 'Figaro'. When the Mezzo launched herself into another slightly off pitched Puccini, the Karaoke reached its peak. The seemingly endless stream of waiters ran in and out of the gold door. The Maitre D fairly flew around the tables with his PDQ, taking our credit cards. It was like a French farce, only the waiters were either Serbs or Czechs and the clientele was a combination of Battersea babes and blow ins like Jim and me.

When the Mezzo nearly shattered one of the Budweiser bottles with a top 'B', Jim and I made a discreet exit. It was a delightful interlude. The two young singers perfomed their karaoke with verve and panache which was a fitting background to Jim's Pork and my limp lettuce.

What a mad couple of days. Tomorrow I am meeting an Indian producer for coffee in Soho. I want to talk Bollywood, then I am off to the 'Ethical Awards' in Covent Garden and am meeting Jim who is driving me back to the country. Thank God. I need a rest.


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


1. At June 7, 2007 10:52 AM Ruth wrote:

You do me so much good! I agree that it is either all work and no play or all play and no work. I WANT BOTH TOO!
Half term for me next week so I can send the little darlings off and sit in a dark room in absolute silence for a week!! Keep up the blogs lovely lady.
loads a luv
Ruth x

2. At June 7, 2007 12:46 PM Libby wrote:

Well I'd like to know on which PLANET Marked up kitchen is doing well, look at UKTV Food message boards (the ones that haven't been deleted) it's still being vilified - and on Nigella.com, everyones given up their sky boxes and gone to freeview! Glad you had a good time Jen - you deserve it. Lots of love Marmite Girl xx

3. At June 7, 2007 5:02 PM Jo & Tigs wrote:

Hey, Jeni,
We're right in the thick of moving house, bad enough at the best of times, but we've just come back from 2 weeks away, all thoughts of "we'll have plenty of time when we get back" well & truly kicked into touch. Sitting down after spending most of the day in side a cardboard box, I thought back to how we used to arrange our day so we could catch you on the box at 6pm. Seems so long ago - TOO LONG!!! Any news on when & where we might be seeing you again (not even any repeats we can ammuse ourselves with - odd really since everything else shown on THAT channel is repeats). Hope you're keeping well, and if you have a spare 5 mins, come over and give us a hand !! xx

4. At June 8, 2007 12:49 PM Doris wrote:

I ended up spending ages on the UKTV forums as a result of Marmite Girl's message. I'm sure I couldn't find any discussions of GFL back then when I was so bereft so it was really interesting to read the passion and vigour on there. YOU are so loved :-)

Anyway, great to read you as ever. The musos at the restaurant sounded like a wonderful cliche, and worth going to see. Reminds me of the old B&W movie "Brief Encounter" when the couple giggle about the mad woman cellist from the cafe who also played organ at the flicks. :-D

5. At June 8, 2007 3:34 PM Sue Campbell wrote:

Jeni, You worry me now. How long are you going to keep up the lettuce and wheatgrass (or whatever) diet for? I used to love seeing you enjoying food as much as I do. Yes, I have to watch my weight as well but I try to have a proper, balanced meal and a few treats along the way. Without going too mad, please go back to your love of lovely food.

6. At June 8, 2007 4:27 PM Travelady wrote:

You really do cheer me up. I cannnot wait until we see you on TV again.

You know what, I looked at the OHI website last night. I may actually take the plunge......all because of you.

Good heatlth to you and yours and keep up the blog PLEASExxx

7. At June 8, 2007 5:45 PM katherine wrote:

uktv brightideas are showing reruns of great food live at 11am weekdays.at last someone seems to have sense to show a repeat we are actually interested in watching!!!!! you really cant keep a good woman down!!!!!keep your chin up lady you know how much your missed and loved!!!xx

8. At June 8, 2007 5:49 PM Jill wrote:

Evening Jeni, Well it's Friday evening, the weeks theraping all done, ahhhh bliss. Just in time to switch onto GFL and then aggghhhhh NO I'm dreaming, actually no it's Making up kitzchen and it's a nightmare. Oh I'll just have another glass of wine then. Have a great weekend, look forward to the next blog Jen. Luv Jillx

9. At June 9, 2007 6:03 AM Shelley wrote:


Well getting on in the arvo here in OZ usually saturdays I would be watching GFL between 4-6pm and usually cook something I'd seen there for tea but MK is on AND to those two you met the other night MK is NOT doing well...the camera work makes me feel seasick and the presenters are as exciting as watching paint dry...no not true, paint is so much more entertaining and the message boards are buzzin'...well I'm off out with the girls to eat and drink...wonderful warm 12C here, with gale force winds not aussie weather at all...but I'll brave it for a chardonany! love ya Missy!

10. At June 14, 2007 8:06 AM Carol Emery wrote:

Hi Jenny

I admire you so much keeping to such a strict regime regarding your diet. I would love to know how much weight you have lost, will you be the next celebrity featured wearing size OO, will we recognize you?
It was lovely to read about you visiting the Lord Palmerston at Tufnell Park, Kentish Town and Gospel Oak. This was my old stomping ground having spent my school years at Parliament Hill Girls School in Highgate Road. Have you visited the Flask pub, another favourite with our gang.
For you information watched MK for 10 mins and have not been back since, I found the gardining channel more interesting at 10pm.
Cant wait to see you again on TV, keep us all informed.love Carol

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.