Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 August 2007

An oxymoron is a combination of contrary ideas, a phrase seemingly absurd but really significant like 'in this shrill hush of quietude' or 'proud humility', which perfectly describes my moronic behaviour at the moment. The comments on this blog do help me through the night, and no, Jane, I'm not complaining, merely sharing with you the 'bitter sweet' process of life at the cut-off edge.

I was up until 2.00 last night ruminating over the disciplines of radio broadcasting and brushing the dog at the same time. He's so hairy. What with the full moon, I thought he may just be turning into a werewolf.

But I couldn't even read when I got into my big empty bed last night - that full moon. Our cottage faces east-north-east which means the moon starts over the compost and works its way over the roof top round to the front of the cottage, by four in the morning it's shining directly through my bedroom window onto my face. Which is handy if a trip to the bathroom is necessary as I don't have to turn on any lights. Not that I need to, even when its pitch black. After all, I have lived here for 24 years, I can feel my way out of the bedroom into the hall and down the step into the bathroom. Negotiating the route does not require SatNav - it's hardly the west wing of Blenheim Palace so were I to get lost, it would signal either too much alcohol or the early onset of dementia.

When I slide into bed, and yes, I do slide actually, preferring that to hopping or jumping, although sometimes I do flop or fall but mostly I slide inelegantly into the bed, pull over my big fluffy duvet, write my journal and then settle down for a read. At the moment I'm trudging through "Masterpiece' by Mirander Glover. I think it's good but I can't tell. It's not the best writing in the world. Not many oxymorons, for instance, but the story is interesting - a young successful performance artist preparing her latest show, which examines her true value. She uses her self as the subject but also other models from said 'Masterpieces' of the title. So we learn about the model as woman, artist, investment and also her role in society. There's also a bit of a familial intrigue thrown in. It has been well received but I'm not totally engaged and some of the prose is embarrassing. It's way past midnight so I can't imagine I'll enter the world of Parisian Impressionism when I hit the sack, sorry, slide into the sack, tonight.

At 9.30 this morning, after the second instalment from Radio 4's Partition programmes, which came from Lahore (the sounds of chanting Muslims at the checkpoint and trains in the station were wonderful), I went downstairs and put Jackson's rice on. Not literally. I would never get the rice too stick. No, it's soaked overnight so that it cooks easily.

One cup of brown rice to two and half times the water. Let it boil for 20 minutes and then it steams in its own heat. That with a third of a tin of Chappie and my 13 year old hound looks as fit as a butcher's dog, although he's not a butcher's dog, he's an actors' dog and we all know that actors are rarely fit, although I'm not including Jude Law or George-I'm -getting-better-as-I-get-older-Clooney.

Whilst his rice is bubbling, I write my three pages. A4 and blue felt tip. It was purple but I used up all the ink. I spill out my innermost thoughts, usually bitter and resentful, until the cat squawks for her breakfast and 'Matey Boy' the blackbird comes hopping round for bits. The postman comes around 10.30. I do pooh alert, scouting for Jackson's deposits on the lawn, and then ablute.

All present and correct by 12.00 when a girl friend arrived from Chatham, not that I hold that against her. We've known each other since she was an art student in black PVC and I wasn't. She arrived with a basket of blackberries from the farm, apricots from her tree, plums from her garden, rhubarb from her allotment and a mango from her local Sainsbury's. We set off, in the sunshine, with the dog and hunger pangs, to Lewes.

'Bill's' is all hanging jalapeņo peppers and shelves of homemade lemon curd. It's very colourful, extremely noisy and pricey. For a table inside you have to queue, otherwise you wait patiently outside with other Lewesians for a table. Old women with walking sticks think nothing of taking on German tourists for premium sites. I used my handbag and dog to wrestle for a bench next to the wall.

Ordering is done on the inside, a brisk walk outside to check on what quiche, precisely, is required by your guest, back inside to re-order, back outside to collect purse, back inside to pay, back outside to sit, back inside to order more water, back outside to settle, back inside for a quick loo break, back outside with bated breath and then all ears cocked. A waitress calls your name. Attention is required since, as I told you, it's noisy. Whilst shouting out your monica, she staggers, tray aloft with pink lemonade, still water, when sparkling was ordered, and your much anticipated meal.

The food, however, is not great. It used to be but they've gone a bit nutty with condiments. I had a salad with not a lot of feta cheese but a great many oily sun-dried tomatoes which fought for space, under a huge bitter chard leaf, with six red balls of melon, three slices of orange and massive sprigs of mint and basil whilst an erect lettuce leaf was stuck in the middle of this ill-conceived 'Mediterranean Salad' like Mini Ha Ha's headress. My companion's aubergine quiche would have been better employed as a coaster under an armchair whilst her rice on the side, which had actually been billed as couscous, looked and tasted less like rice on the side more like lice on the side. The coffee was bitter and the apple pie wasn't. My companion tried to be gracious, as I had paid, but we both agreed that it was a case of fur coat and no knickers.

Olly Smith, the lovely wine buff, lives in Lewes. I picked up my phone to call him. It rung before I had the chance. The synchronicity of it all. T'was the man himself. 'I'm in Lewes', I screamed. 'I'm on Shaftesbury Avenue', he screamed back. 'Oh No!', we both screamed together. We shared love and air kisses whilst I attacked my nearly indigestible walnut, cheese and fibre-glass loft installation pizza.

We then walked up the hill into Lewes and back down again to the car park. Lewes is lovely, if a little twee. We arrived home just in time for the tea-time sun. I had a herb tisane, my companion Earl Grey, as we slagged off, sorry, analysed our mutual friends. Then she drove off to Kent whilst I was left alone in Sussex with the dog, the cat, and my fusty, musty latest purchase from J for 50p of a 'Short Handbook of Literary Terms', which is where we came in.

On page 22 it gives the definition of 'Anticlimax' : This occurs when successive statements instead of leading to a climax become less interesting or important. Mmmm! I rest my case. Good night.

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


1. At August 1, 2007 10:01 AM Libby wrote:

Hi Jeni

Have to try the brown rice with Ruby (my Westie) I decided to have an early night last night after a long day at work, got woken up at 1am by Ruby throwing up all over the bed I then carried her downstairs to put her out and she threw up all down the stairs, so my "early night" ended up being 2.30am after cleaning it all up! Good job I had this to read this morning to cheer me up !!!
Keep writing and making me laugh Jen
Lots of love
Marmite Girl xx

2. At August 1, 2007 12:43 PM Jil wrote:

Hi Jeni

Not written much recently, we're (R and me) looking after friends kids - 6 & 9) whilst they take a break in Singapore. Good boys they are - I keep telling them that in the hopes that they will be! Only 2 accidents so far and we are at day 3 of 8, I'm seeking solace today - working from home - in order to catch up with sundry items but more especially your blog. An absolute tonic Jeni (as always) but it has made me sit, relaxed (almost asleep actually) and read the last 4 episodes!! I'll check back in on Monday - wish us luck for the weekend; unless you fancy a couple of boys for the weekend????

Bbye, J -x-

3. At August 1, 2007 1:13 PM Chrissie Carcassonne wrote:

Hi Jeni,
Just love the restaurant review. Things have improved so much with British food over the past 20 years that its a shame when a favourite eatery goes down hill. I wonder if these chefs ever eat the meals on their menus. I am pleased to say that iffy restaurants are also to be found in France but the wine is, at least, cheaper.
Have been making Apple Butter, Tomato Tart and Marinated Red Onions today as the weather isn't up to much.
Chrissie x x

4. At August 1, 2007 7:54 PM judi4 wrote:

Hi Jeni,I missed you on saturday night as I had an unexpected visit from two of my grandchildren, and their parents which was lovely, but I missed you. I will once again try to listen next week. Anyway I will be thinking of you. I use frozen rice for my dog, but its white, I don't know if they do brown. Just a thought, in an emergancy, Jackson might enjoy it. Lots a luv xx

5. At August 2, 2007 12:14 AM Fiona wrote:

Keep on writing your journal, as Oscar Wilde said "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."

And not wishing to be pedantic, should you not have written
"The comments on this blog do help me MAKE IT through the night"? (As Kris would say)

Loved your LBC show, good luck for the next one - XOX

6. At August 2, 2007 5:42 AM Shelley wrote:

Hello Jeni, I too have a lot of catching up to do reading your blogs. Watched a GFL repeat last sunday morning, when Australian Day was celebrated on the show. Olly Smith was on (I loved his appearances), he spoke in an aussie accent for a bit, quite well in fact, is he an aussie or just good at the accent? You mentioned Rex Hunt, he has a fishing show on here. He was in the news a little while back after being caught with his knickers down and at the same time had hooked two blondes, not sure if they had gills? Also on the show was another aussie who I didnt recognise he was in Neighbours I think, which I dont watch, I watch Eastenders instead. I say everyone is entitled to one trash tv show. Been Germ HQ here in Sydney chest infections are ramped...thank god for ibuprophen, my drug of choice after wine...my 12yro son is home sniffling, he was only sick till 10am. He IS going to school tomorrow. I will look forward to reading through your entries. Also will try soaking the rice before cooking for my two girls, Lucy 14 (cross corgie-daschund) and Trixie-Belle 2(fox terrier) my son was 4yro when he named her...and I accept no responsibility...tar-rar love

Sydney, OZ

7. At August 2, 2007 10:29 AM Michelle Morphew wrote:

Hi Jen,
Missed your show at the weekend and have looked on the website to podcast but
your not availble! Have emailed the bosses to get it fixed. I agree with one of the other bloggers that the slot is a a difficult one, but will promise to listen when I can.
Keep smiling and making me laugh.
Michelle x
PS ( How about LBC paying for some new publicity shots to put on their website!)

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.