The day that the rains came down
Last night the sound of the rain on the red plastic table cover in the front garden lulled me to sleep. It was noisy and rhythmic. When I woke at 7.00 this morning the rain was still tumbling out of the sky. I went downstairs to sort the dog and puss whilst the rain drops cascaded on the roof in sheets. I wrote my three morning pages at the kitchen table. Jim had already left for the Globe and the child was just stirring, the bin men had bin and the sun was poking out from behind the clouds as if their wasn't a raindrop in the world and thunder and lighting didn't exist. We are the second highest point in Sussex so we don't get flooded, although the cellar used to. Jim built weather boards -a la Sweden - so we stay toasty dry, which is handy for the insurance of the house not to mention all me bits and bobs in the basement.
This morning's pages were devoted to forgiving the duplicity of television folk (more of that another day) whilst administering to the hound who decided yesterday that walking with four legs was no longer an option. Whilst perambulating by the pier in Brighton, his two back legs gave way under him.
B picked him up, Corin arrived in the little family car and B loaded him into the back. Zoe sat on the gear stick, I sat on Jackson, B sat in the front passenger side. Corin drove and Maia, who was oblivious of the drama unfolding around her, gurgled happily in her fancy car seat.
This is the time of year for labradors to shed their coats. I think we left several ounces of Jackson's wool on the back seat of Corin's car, along with profuse apologies. B heaved him into the back seat of our Jackmobil which is so covered in dog hairs and Ashdown Forest undergrowth that a few more bales of labrador coat doesn't make any difference.
We arrived home by 7.00. The girl went to work and Jackson slumped on his bed. By the time Jim arrived home at 12.30, the dog was as perky as a puppy. The rotten hound had recovered but he had really worried me. He is 94 so he is allowed to complain and all this damp weather plays havoc with his joints.
I had vacuumed up all the spare hairs before Jim came home, unexpectedly. It was lovely to see him although cleaning the cottage at midnight was less of a pleasure, more of a chore.
Jim drove back in a thunder storm, the very same that raged as I was thinking about my future. I did wonder whether the Gods of retribution were clapping their hands together in preparation for some real Karmic activity on them telly visionaries but in the end I decided it was just too much static in the air.
This morning I put on trousers I haven't been able to fit into for twelve years, a black t-shirt and a fancy pink mack I bought three weeks ago.
I drove through the squall and parked opposite the station, arriving with two minutes to spare - just enough time to get a ticket. I had no book with me so I sat quietly contemplating my travelling companions. They must have been riveting because I can't remember the London-bound journey.
By the time I reached Charing Cross, the sun was out so I took off my mac, which had developed an uncomfortable patch under my bum. I fiddled around to discover that the magnetic tag was still attached.
I walked into Ann Summers, in Soho, as bold as brass and asked the guy at the counter if he could remove my tag. He looked at me and smirked. 'Did you nick it?', he asked giggling in German, which is a bit like giggling in an English accent only slightly more gutteral. 'No I did not', I said, in my best Women's Institute, as I tried to avert my eyes from shelves full of gadgets that hadn't been designed for bottling marmalade, that's for sure.
I walked to the voiceover studio in D'Arblay Street and handed my mac over to Eva, who is the best receptionist in the universe. Whatever you want, she gets very quickly so you have to be careful what you ask for. I asked for a Cappuccino and got a bucket full of frothy stuff from one of the runners.
Eva sent me up to studio three to do my Heat voiceover and my mac out to the local shops to be de-tagged. The sun was out further when I left the studio. Eva had not managed to get the tag removed as the runner had been told that the tag was probably full of dye and one false move and my beautiful pink mac would turn a ghastly khaki.
I practically jogged to the station, as I didn't want the dog to be left alone for too long just in case, but by now the sun was actually hot. My 100% something or other mac had turned me into a walking sauna. Got onto the concourse and read the board - the 16.45 was late setting off so I ran to platform 4 and boarded the train. I fished around for a tissue to dab my top lip. That's a dead giveaway - youthful girls don't get that kind of perspiration globlets.
I did not manage to buy a paper as I was reluctant to change a £20 pound note, so I studied my fellow passengers instead.
Then I remembered my journey in. Lionel and his wife Rosa were on the train. We talked. He is a hairdresser who plays drums and percussion. Not in the salon but in two bands. He's as old as my older brother who is older than me and you know I'm not a spring chicken. His wife is really elegant with a fantastic diamond on her right ring finger, so there's obviously money in Lionel's cut and blow jobs.
On the way home there was a businessman chewing gum and doing a crossword. There was also a very pretty young woman with fair skin and moles. She was reading a best selling romance about France. It was definitely chick-lit as the cover was pink and all girl-flower. I thought she was reading it because it made her look French and very Left bank. My friend recently taught me about the arrondissements of Paris. Apparently Paris is like a snail - it goes round and round and each district is numbered, but that's as much as I can tell you. Just like the map of the city, I learn slowly.
Next to me was a pregnant woman. She was stoking her belly and reading the free London paper. Her bump was huge. It set me to thinking how years ago when I was with child, I used to wear a badge saying 'I'm not fat, I'm pregnant'. My, how things have changed. Then it wasn't the done thing to be exposing yourself. Now our young baby carriers are all short-shirted, brown and proud to be in full blossom. I like it although sometimes I find the umbilical bump a little disconcerting, which in turn makes me wonder if we haven't become so in your face about absolutely everything. There is nothing mysterious any more. It won't be long before special procreation carriages will be provided on the 6.16 to St. Leonards.
I arrived back in T'well and and stormed into Hoopers. As I walked through the doors into the fashion department, I set off the alarm. My magnetic tag was announcing my arrival. A young officious manageress spied me. 'Is that you?', she asked. 'Yes', I said indignantly.
She was just about to suggest that I had walked out without paying when I put her right. I had, in fact, walked in without paying. I had purchased the garment three weeks ago and here was my charge card to prove it. I tried to have it off in Soho but... She removed the tag with one of those magnetic tag removing machines and apologised to me for causing me such distress. 'Thank you', I said, in the way that account holders do.
I drove home to find Victoria, mother of Annabel, crying in her lobby. What had happened? Was it the lover? Was it the mother? The job? Had somebody died? 'No', Victoria sobbed, 'It has taken me seven hours to drive to Isleworth and back'. That would try the patience of a saint, I said.
She had arrived at 5.00 but Annabel's school disco was at 5.00. It was now 5.03 and five-year-old Annabel was chucking a strop. It was too late to go, she wailed. I persuaded her that princesses always ran late and that if I took her in my little red car, she could arrive in style. First she said no. Then she said yes - the true Princess prerogative.
So she strapped herself in. I opened both windows and we set off, very fast for a little person, through the back lanes into the water shoot. The water shot through her window, up the hill and bang on 5.15 she arrived fashionably late. Clutching her £1.50, she entered Rothefield primary school and I drove home.
I fed the dog, called the daughter and husband who were both indisposed, and then set about creating an impromptu supper for my lovely homoeopath and me: chopped liver, mackerel pate, a huge salad and some Pino Grigio which she supplied.
Charley Haydon and Pat Methany played on the CD and we talked about life, the population explosion, the seven subtle bodies. Then the phone rang - she had to leave to collect her inebriated daughter from the common.
I was left with the washing up, the dog, the puss and two bits of liquorice which I scoffed whilst watching QI. I love Stephen Fry.
I love the comments. This blog post is entitled 'The day that the rain came down'. No doubt you will remember it fondly if you were born under the sign of Ancient.
Having now put that song in your head, I will leave it going round and round and retire to my boudoir. Here comes the rain again... Night night and cusoon.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
HI Jeni - what a fasinating read -are all of your days as frantic as what you type? we are all despreate to know when you are coming back (not if)- i recently has an upgrade on the ancient sky box and am happlily enjoying reruns of GFL and bites, i set it to record and when I come home from work I can watch all the GFL's I like, Good luck in every thing you do - you have people like me cheering you on