My Home is my Saucepan

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 4 September 2007

The sun did not wake me this morning, the alarm did. I want so badly to like him but John Humphries really irritates me. He argues just for the sake of arguing so at 7.00 when Radio 4 came on it jolted me out of my deep sleep. I ignored it and dozed for another half-hour hearing my own gutteral acrobatics, until 7.30 when I fell out of bed and abluted. I had my clothes set up so I could make a quick getaway. Firstly I took Jackson out for his early morning routine. It was a Swedish morning - sharp, crisp, with fresh air that smelled good. The seagulls squealed and the sky was blue. Back in the flat I gave Jackson his breakfast, wrote my three pages, meditated and then at 8.50 I left for work. I was slightly anxious about the journey because of the tube strike. In the event there was nothing to worry about as the roads were practically empty-maybe everybody stayed at home in Godalming. I wore trainers so that I could walk very fast to Battersea Bridge. As I got there the No.19 was setting off from the bus stop.

Quick thinking is needed when you are Wonder Woman so clutching my Oyster card and firmly slapping my hand on my back pocket to protect my mobile I took a deep breath and started to run. I passed the bus. The lights changed to red, the bus stopped. I ran faster, over the Embankment past the fancy houses into the Congestion Zone, onto the North side of the river by the time I arrived at the bus stop on Beaufort Street the Arriva bus drew up beside me. I had beaten the double decker. I beeped my Oyster card, skipped upstairs, took the front seat and settled in for my 30 minute journey into Soho. The big front windows are a killer when the sun shines. It is hot, hot, hot, so I felt a little snoozy. I looked left, out the window, at 57 Pont Street and there were two commemorative blue plaques on the wall, one for Sir george Alexander Tree, actor/manager, the other for a novelist whose name I have forgot! Two plaques on one house. I decided there and then that were I ever to appear on 'Mastermind' my specialist subject would be The Blue Plaques of London Town. I would learn every single one, the person, location and reason for the hanging of the blue plaque thereof of which there are 869. I know at least three which only leaves 866 to go, but I then thought my General Knowledge would probably let me down. Fred Housego I aint.

When we got to Piccadilly the bus stopped for traffic. We must have been stationary for about five minutes. I looked down at the queue by the bus-stop; a woman, whose dress-sense was incompitable with the fag in her fingers. She wore a smart grey knitted two piece and was balancing on a big suitcase with wheels. Just like a Wimbledon champion she had a rhythm to her smoking. Have you noticed when the top-shots bounce their balls on the centre court they always have a ritual. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. Throw up the ball and - Serve Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. Throw up the ball and - Serve. Well our Lady of the Twin - Set had her very own rhythmic habit. I watched her and counted. Take a drag. Blow the smoke. Tap the fag 1.2. Take a drag. Blow the smoke. Tap the fag 1.2. Take a drag....I wondered whether she was aware of her jazzy beaviour and why she was smoking at all since she didn't really inhale. It was just a case of Take a drag Blow the smoke Tap the fag 1.2.

I alighted - if you'll forgive the pun -onto Shaftesbury Avenue. Looked at the photographs outside the theatre where 'Cabaret' was showing and decided I may go and see it. The actors and dancers looked really interesting. Turned left into Rupert Street and stopped four Traffic Wardens. I needed to have breakfast and thought if anybody knows a good greasy spoon it'll be them. One big, huge Nigerian man, two small Ghanaian women and the very white William. WS4819. 'Do you know a good place for breakfast?' I asked. They mentally put their finger tips together to have a think. William answered. 'First of all I just want to say thank you for the many hours of fun you have given me on Good Food Live.' I put my hands over my face, I was so touched. 'Your sense of humour, well it's even better than mine.' The Ghanaian warden piped up, 'He's a really lovely man is Wiliam,' which I think was meant to confirm that William did indeed have a good SOH. 'After a hard day of being abused,' William continued, 'I come home and watch the show. I wanted to say it isn't on anymore but somebody told me they were watching repeats so.... But it was a wonderful way to start my day.

I followed Williams directions. Left, past Windmill Street, and any one of the cafes would be okay. I opted for 59 Brewer Street the JUMBO EAT run by Rosario from Italy and Valentia from Bulgaria. A regular came in, I know he was a regular because no words passed his lips he merely smiled at Valentia who popped two slices of bread in the toaster. Silently she took out a huge tub of marmalade, spread a splodge over the hot bread, poured him a coffee - took his money and off he went. JUMBO EAT boasts they are the orginators of the 'Giant Wrap', whatever that is, and have painted on the door that they serve the best Italian coffee in town. Well it wasn't quite the best but my beans on toast and scrambled eggs were scrummy, hot and fresh. When Valentia asked me whether I was a teacher I asked why. 'Because,' she said in her Bulgarian English, 'You lyook lyike a teacher and speak clyearly lyike a teacher.' We then discussed Nigellya and last nights hideous show, I paid up and left. I shall be going back for seconds.

My voice overs went spiffingly. Paulo, the producer has just come back from his family holiday in Italy so we shared his holiday snaps. I thought his wife was his mother, only in one photo mind, but I spent the next three hours trying to dig my way out of a very big hole. I asked Alan, the engineer, whether he had had a family holiday and yes he and his 2.4 lot went to Bostswana where his folks still live. Originally both his parents were missionaries but his dad now runs the University bookshop in Gaberone, the capital city which, Alan says, is like Milton Keynes with sunshine. Incidentally Gaberone is pronounced Haberoknee, which made me think of those sweets you can buy - Haribo -which get caught in your teeth. Anyway the airline lost two of Alan's suit-cases, which when discovered were sent to him along with £1,300 pounds compensation. We then discussed setting up a business where we could claim for lots of empty lost cases but decided it was probably a lost cause.

Alexander McCall Smith, the creator of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency has set all of his books in Botswana, which Alan confirmed. In fact they were staying in the very next house to him whilst they were there. He was visiting because they are filming the books in Gaberone e'en as we speak.

Alan also told us about his daughter Rebecca's obsession with the moon. He wondered whether it had anything to do with him shining a torch light on his wifes belly when she was pregnant. But my friendly acupuncturist, who lives in Germany, said 'Nein, Nein', at least nine times.

Then Alan told us about how when he was little he was called RA PLUG by the Botswanan females bringing him up. Translated it means 'Man of the Plug', which had something to do with the fact that he remembered the pictures his mum had stuck round the sink splash when he was little. I could be wrong as I was trying to remember everything he said whilst he was speaking - trying too hard in fact, which meant I was thinking about remembering rather than remembering. Phew! Once they realised that it meant 'man of the plug' it was soon changed to RA PALOKA which means 'Man of Salvation'. So today I had the Saviour engineering for me.

Which got me thinking about John Peels wonderful 'Home Truths' programme that used to be on Radio 4 on Saturday mornings. He had interviewed a woman who was baffled as to why she felt so comforted when she smelt metal. Years into her adulthood she discovered that when she was a tiny baby her mother had owned a hardware shop. When they opened up in the morning her mother had popped her in a saucepan on the counter as she pottered around the shop, thus the smell of metal saucepans filled the baby, now adult, with a sense of homely security. I have that with bonfires and wet grass, maybe my parents left me out in the garden too much.

After a very posh pot noodle for lunch and another two voice overs it was time to go home. I had to run for the number 19 on Shaftsebury Avenue, then the number 49 to get me to Clapham Junction, but then it was a slow walk to Manny's in Battersea High Street for salami, cheese, a bottle of Rosť and a catch up with the daughter. I couldn't make the charity do I had committed to as it was too late by the time I had downed my last glass of pink nectar. All in all it was a lovely day.

When I jumped on the 49 I asked the bus driver whether he went to Clapham Junction. 'Yeah' he said 'You stick with me' 'What forever?' I asked 'No' he said 'All good things must come to an end.' Just like this blog.

night night and cu2morrer

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


1. At September 5, 2007 8:31 AM Colin Jennings wrote:

Dear Jeni,

I'm sure it must be time for you to do a trip to Africa, having met people from places like Botswana and you must have had a chat with Isabelle Legron, about her great series on wine in South Africa. Talk someone into sponsoring a cooking programme in this part of the world, you have a big following and if Alan Coxon can do it, you can do even better.For an idea; gather local chefs together, get them going on their favourite local cuisine, might be a bit different and a holiday to boot!

2. At September 5, 2007 9:31 AM Martin and David in Brighton wrote:

Well done, Ms Barnett. A rather good one today, we feel.

Martin and David

3. At September 5, 2007 10:22 AM Chrissie Carcassonne wrote:

Hi Jeni,

Don't bother writing the book. Just put a cover on these blogs and that will be good enough. Helps my day along. Thanks.
The smell of burnt toast takes me right back to being a kid. My dad would get home from night shift, wake up wife and twins and make (burn) toast. The sound that takes me back is of the afore mentioned toast being scraped over the sink!
As ever
Chrissie Carcase x

4. At September 6, 2007 8:23 AM Michelle wrote:

Hi jen,
Just read 3 in a row, I have not logged on for a week a I have been down in the New Forest with the choc lab, so good to have you back! Get the website man to pull his finger out! (only joking)
For you bloggers that miss Jen's show on LBC you can podcast it on their website for as little as £2 a month. All of her shows that she has done are on there.
Keep smiling Jen, Michelle x

5. At September 6, 2007 10:54 AM Jill wrote:

Morning Jeni,

I've not been keeping up with the blog for some weeks now but as I'm off work following a silly fall with the iron the other evening - the iron is fine. I'm about to treat myself to a re-run of GFL in 8 minutes time!! We miss the show very much - we also miss good old John Peel, made my weekend start off well that used to. Right kettle on and ....action GFL!

Thanks Jeni, J -x-

6. At September 7, 2007 9:58 AM carys wrote:

I love the trip s you take me on through the streets of London. Seems like decades ago that I worked and played there - probably cos it is! Anyway, You were quite right about all of us in Godalming. We were under orders from the mayor to stay home and guzzle as many cream cakes, scones and cucumber sandwiches as we could in support of world peace. One does what one can. I just don't know how you found out. Do you have 'special powers' Jeni? xx

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.