On the Last Day of September
It now smells of autumn, a fusty, musty earthy aroma which surrounds the cottage at this time of year. I'm waiting for the mushrooms to appear. We have shaggy ink caps round the back of us, puff balls at the end of the garden and, maybe if we're lucky, some shitakes that were given to Jim last year for his birthday. They are buried in a log outside 'Le Shed'. If they grow I'll make some kind of shitake stir fry.
I am ashamed to say that we have planted nothing this year. It's a combination of too much change in too short a time and a young pruner who knows as much about gardening as Alan Titmarsh does about interviewing.
Jackson managed to pick up his pace for a wee walk this morning. The fields have been ploughed the soil looks like brown rolling waves. I have to press my fingers into the damp earth. I want to squish it through my fingers, a compulsion, like babies and bananas. Jim pointed out that another field had been harrowed. So we talked about planting, harvesting, farrowing and harrowing, by which time we had arrived home and Jackson's back legs had given way.
Johnathan, our next door neighchum, was pottering around. He usually does boot fares on a Sunday but he gave it a miss this week. We buy all sorts from him - records, shoes, plates and lemon squeezers. He knows my addiciton to books so he leaves them seductively on show. I grab whatever books I can lay my hands on. They cost me 50p and feed my soul.
He collects all the old Ladybird books for me which I pass onto my grandaughter. She will face the 21st century with a deeply held belief that all God's children wear duffle coats and are called Janet and John.
I had supper with my agent on Friday who chuntered on about me writing a novel, Anything, he said, to stop me whinging and moaning about my age, career, love handles and overdraught., Well as synchronicity would have it I was bet, a few years ago, that I couldn't write a Mills & Boon. That kind of challenge has to be met. So I set about creating the life and times of Francine DuBois!
My Cambridge educated girl friend read it, cried and said I had to develop the character of Art O'Brien the theatre director who has smouldering good looks and a massive motor bike. I couldn't be bothered. The very woman, who threw down the gauntlet, called me from the Pyrenees and left a message on my mobile asking me whether I had written any good Mills and Boons lately. This fateful fone call felt like a shout from the Gods.
Johnathan leaves the books, he thinks I may like, stacked up in the boot of his Rav. I'm half way through Chris Moyles from last week. I must say it's a terrific read, and quite what I need now that I'm turning into a radio hack. Anyway there, in all their glory, was a mini stack of paper backs he had left me. One was a compendium of 20th Century famous folk, another was how to write a novel, two were how to write dirty books for a living and the fifth was 'Jack and the Beanstalk' . Jim gave him £3.00 and I flicked through my booty. The chances of me writing a bawdy book is about as likely as me taking up pole dancing, but should I ever want to suppliment my income by creating comics of the canoodling kind I now have the wherewithall to do it. I will, however, have a look at Francine DuBois again, maybe I could include a lewd chapter or three.
LBC is still in the process of re-arranging the schedules so as from next week I will be broadcasting on Sunday afternoons from 3-5. When I arrived yesterday I was really miserable at the insecurity of it all and instead of being grateful for a job at all I got all shirty about the changes. I have learnt that exponentially the more miserable I am the funnier I can be Saturday night was no exception.
We had two food stylists talking about their job. Bethany Heald works on adverts and told us some tricks of the trade. A tampon, cut up, soaked in water and heated up in the mircrowave is the recognised procedure for making soup look hot. It's put in the bottom of the bowl covered with the potage est voila steam rises. Not a lot of people know that.
John Amabile shared his secrets from 'TAGGART'. Mashed potato for ice-cream - for the long shots - no melting see! Whilst the perfect method for effective vomit....sorry....is Campbells Scotch Broth in a bucket. He did say that spraying tomatoes with hair lacquer gave them a good shine but I urge you not to try it if you want to use them later in your salad.
My lovely nearly-son talked to us about eating on stage. He's opening a new play at the SOHO THEATRE, called PURE GOLD. He has to eat egg on toast, in one scene, and pasta with a pepper sauce in another. His co-actor has to cook it in three and half minutes and he has to eat it without choking or spitting penne all over the audience. I'm going to see it on Monday. I'll let you know whether he manages it.
FIONA DUNLOP came in for the last hour and we talked about her book 'MEDINA KITCHEN'. Food from North Africa made by 7 women and 1 man that she met on her travels. The recipes are simple and special. There's one picture of a live chicken being weighed on some old scales. 9 pages later it ends up in a pot being slathered in olive oil and garlic by a pair of nut brown hands. In the American edition of the book the chicken on the scale survives but the dead bird was cut out to keep in with American sensibilities! I ranted on about the hypocricy of a nation that had given us McDonalds whilst Fiona had a go at the sanitisation of our society and the crippling effect of the Nigella affect. Not that I've got anything against Ms Lawson, but when you pretend to be one of the girls, whilst being married to a £50 million arty Saatchi, it does make identification a tad tricky.
I did enjoy the show though. I drove back to the country listening to Russel Brand. I know he's like Marmite, (not you Marmite girl) you either love him or hate him. I love him. He is SOOOOOOOO rude and naughty, makes me feel young. By the time I got to East Sussex I was hungry enough to stop off for a kebab. A shish for me a donar for Jim who was waiting at home, starving.
Whilst waiting for the shish to cook I had a chat with the kebabber who's birthday it is next wednesday. I'm surrounded by Librans. Happy birthday to you all - you know who you are.
After noshing our pitta bread at the kitchen table the husband and I settled down to watch a recorded Johnathon Ross and all the X Factor nonsense before staggering upstairs to bed and falling asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Jackson is very happy to have us home. I am very happy to be here. It's 6.15, the evening's drawing in. I've scrubbed the kitchen floor and bought all the sunday papers, so I'm going to settle down with some newsprint, I think there's some kind of story about a big ship sailing on the 'ally ally oh', which is very fitting as it's the last day of September, after which I shall run a bath and take one of Johnathan's books to bed. Given my lack of imagination and concentration span, this time of night, it'll probably be 'Jack and the Beanstalk.'
Anyway have a good October 1st and cusoon.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
Jeni, you make me smile every time I read your blog, and tonight was no exception. Many thanks for cheering me up.
You need to write a book about a lady of a certian age radio host whos loves food and turns out tobe a psychic detective who solves crimes while on the air......now thats a NOVEL
Hi Jeni, Please cheer up. I was quite worried about you when I read yesterdays blog. I hate to think of you of all people being so down. I'm so glad you intend writing regularly again, I look forward to it.(By the way you forgot about Billy Cottons Band Show on a sunday afternoon!) How did the 'eating' play go tonight? I giggled at the thought of the penne all over the front row! I like marmite (and marmite girls comments) but dislike Russel Brand with a passion, I think its the first time I haven't agreed with your sense of humour. xx
Hi Jeni - I should have just come back from 2 weeks in Sitges but couldn't go as I was unwell so feeling a bit flat at the moment. Anyway, when I felt a bit better, I listened to my recordings of your last 2 Saturday shows. I enjoyed the afternoon tea part especially and also had a laugh with you and the biscuit man. I'm sure you are so pleased with the way you have taken so well to radio now. I think the Sunday slot will be better, except that you will miss your lovely Sundays at home, presumably. Please keep some food and drink items in for "us foodies". Hope the autobiog is still progressing?