'What's for ya won't go past ya.' So said Joe's granny. Joe is the second youngest of nine, his dad was a copper and his mum a teacher.
Joe is an exceptionally good editor.
I met Rob, a brillyant (that's how they say it in Glasgow) director. Spectacles, tall with a lovely growth of dark stubble. His delectable girl friend used to be my celebrity booker on GFL. She's now in development and working on the 'Culture Show'. She has the intelligence of an artist, the humour of a free spirit and the warmth of the wise. It was a delight to sit next to her and -
A very old colleague who had eaten food in my flat in Wapping in 1980, then set about creating a career that took her to the heights of her profession before she broke her back skiing. She is dark, neat and totally accepting of her fate.
The man I went to see in Glasgow, Mr. Coutts, used to watch me on stage back in 1972 when I was young, fearless and utterly oblivious of the world around me and him. he gave me my second television job..
I re-met him in the canteen of Prospect Pictures, the studio where we made GFL. I didn't recognise him at first. It was, after all, 37 years ago that we had last clapped eyes on each other. We agreed we wanted to work together again which is why I flew to Glasgow.
On Monday November 19th 2007 I met The Coutts, it feels like I've been away a fortnight. Hidden in between the folds of a leather Barbour, he bought off e-bay, and several pints of Leffe beer, resides a man of such huge generosity and charm that I drunk far more than I should have done and slept far less than I wanted to.
But let me start from the beginning.
The Scottish stop over started at 4.00 am on Monday morning.
I turned on the bidet, the spray had been left on, it shot onto the ceiling, over the carpet and squarely into my face. Freezing cold water at four in the morning was not what I had planned. So I stepped into the shower to warm myself up.
The rain was tipping it down, I carefully sploshed my way to the car. My car is small, the headlights from other cars, lorries and motor bikes, shine straight into my eyes. The deluge that greeted me at 4am on Monday morning was not what I had planned.
I drove very slowly through Ashdown Forest, my headlights turning the eyes of deer, foxes and rabbits yellow. By the time I got to the M23 I had caused a minor tailback. All the regular drivers were having to limp behind an old lady in a small two-seater, driving at 32 miles an hour because she couldn't see past the spray of the delivery lorries that were hurtling past at the speed of sound.
I followed the signs to the Northern Terminal, then the signs to the Long term Car Park.
So far we were nearly tikety boo.
I parked, took the bus and walked into the North Terminal
The old man had printed out my boarding pass. 4c, an aisle seat.
The Gatwick terminal was very quiet. I walked straight through to the check-in. My car keys are attached to a tiny torch but also on a ring with a little red Swiss army knife.
The penny dropped. The pen knife is most definately A Sharp Object. I had never left my car in a car park before so I hadn't given my key-ring a second thought. 'You'll either have to put your bag in the hold' said the quietly spoken check-in girl, with her strangely laquered hair.
'NO WAY I HAVE BROUGHT ONE BAG SO THAT I CAN WALK THROUGH QUICKLY.' I hissed.
'We can confiscate your knife.' The check in girl whispered unapologetically.
NO RUDDY WAY. My husband had given me that little Red Swiss Army Knife so I could clean my teeth, tweezer my splinters, slice a tomato, file my nails and cut as many corners as possible. Alas, not this morning.
'Is there nothing I can do?' I said weedily. The quietly spoken girl with the hard hair was unmoved. 'Could take it to Left Luggage?' I suggested forlornly. 'I doubt if they'll take it.' she said, her voice flat with dawning irritation.
The woman standing behind me tutted, I was the last person she wanted to have in front of her at 5.15 on a damp Monday Morning when she was trying to jet off to Gibralter.
I about-turned and walked directly to the Left Luggage desk, I would prove the hard-hearted-headed-haired-girl wrong.
A very shiny Nigerian smiled and told me he could take it, of course, turned and opened a drawer full of Swiss Army Knives. 'A lot of people leave them. See.' he beamed.
He gave me a card with my ref, no. ( Always good to abbreviate that don't you think? REFerence NuMBER ) and told me it would cost me £19.50. For a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon - £19.50 for putting a little red pen knife in a white envelope.
I walked back, grim mouthed to the queue and stood behind three very well spoken lady travellers. One was complaining that she hadn't had time to put her lipstick on. She had no lips to speak of so where the stain was to go is beyond me. The second traveller, wore a brown velour track suit, and complained that the taxi had turned up late, and that, in spite of his late arrival, she still hadn't finished her Bran Flakes. The third octogenarian wore extremely sensible shoes, a jacket over a shirt and trousers that were puckered over her drawers. She said very loudly for all the world to hear. 'Ah! The joys of travelling.'
'Damn Right' I thought.
I decided to play by the rules. Took out my little plastic bag and presented it to the dummy who was standing behind the rolling carousel. My bag went through fine, but she held my little transparent bag up for all to see. 'Preparation H' for the use of. 'Feminine Wash' for the use of. Toothpaste. Night Cream. Herbal Spray. AND My £30 pound a bottle of face wash provided for me by my beautician and flown in all the way from Canada. 'Ah! the dummy pounced. She had been looking for something to confiscate. 'This bottle is over 100 mls.'
I had not even thought about the bottle. I was still reeling from my £20 fine for the pen knife. She dipped her hand into my see-through bag and fished out my feminine and facial wash. She put it on top of the x-ray machine in full glare of the gawping Gatwick travellers, she sneered. 'Is there anything you want to say?' She said. 'Yes. But I can't.' so I burst into tears. I had spent £50 and I hadn't even left the carpet. 'Take off your shoes, take off your jacket and leave your phone and bits in the tray.' barked the next security gal.
I walked through the x-ray and nothing beeped, which was some consolation.
I ran to Boots to buy a SMALL, CHEAP face wash. Ate a yoghurt then headed for the plane.
4A was taken, 4B was empty and 4C was me.
I shoved my bag under my seat and fell asleep but was awoken by the smell of the British Airways Breakfast. Scrambled egg, half a tomato, one rasher of very wet bacon, an anaemic, lethargic, grey sausage and a roll that was still frozen in the middle. The tea was bitter, by then so was I.
I fished around in my bag for a tissue, my fingers landed on a manicure set that Ms.Kirschbaum had bought me as a gift. If the airport police found this I would be incarcerated. It had two pairs of scissors, three other pointy things and a file for getting out of gaol.
I landed in Glasgow at 8.25. I paid £3.95 and hobbled onto the 500 bus which drove down the M8 and into Glasgow centre. The scenery was difficult to determine through the teeming Scottish rain. I alighted at one of the Stations and, desperate not to get arrested, asked for directions to the nearest Post Office. Scotland still has them, they're big and they sell envelopes, Christmas cards and merry little notelets to send to your husband. I bought a bubble wrap envelope, a card with Scottish tartans on, popped in my manicure set, and sent it back to myself, who wasn't at home, in Sussex.
By now I was borasic and weary. I headed for The Merchant City. Walked down Ingram Street, turned right into Brunswick Street, and there, all yellow chairs and pink Neon lighting was the sweetest little hotel in Scotland, nay the United Kingdom, nay the World. THE BRUNSWICK HOTEL really is darling. I walked in and Christine Burke's jaw dropped. She and her sister had only been talking about GFL last night, she was so spooked that she upgraded me instantly. WONDERFUL I took the lift up to 402. The walls were crimson red, the carpets crimson red, the designer a very camp shade of pink. He made no concessions; my room had sage alcoves, green carpets and a bed so big it would have taken the entire Partick Thistle football team, not to mention a couple of Swedish Referees if I could have found them.
It was darling.
I met Mr. Coutts for breakfast.
We adjourned to some very swanky offices three streets away. I watched him editing a three part series going out on Thursday, that's when I met Joe, he of the Caladonian Granny.
I went back for a snooze. Took a quick bath to wake me up.
Skipped down the 70 red carpeted stairs to the bar. Met up with the Coutts for smoky whiskey and thin pizzas. Wrote the outline of a show and then I went up the 70 stairs to bed.
On Tuesday Morning I had a continental breakfast, wrote up the show, had lunch with an ex- pupil then wandered around Glasgow. The 'Evening Times' newspaper sellers were giving away free cans of 'Tango' and a packet of Pringles with each publication. Which would account for the unprepossessing nature of most of the Glaswegians I bumped into who all had very bad posture, I really think they had all been 'Tangoed.'
I met up with the Coutts who then marched me off to Borders Book Shop to meet a delicious writer who gave us three ideas and a film he and Coutts had made three years ago. The team was manifesting before my very eyes.
And now we are back to the top of the blog. Last night we met up in a brillyant gastro pub. Coutts brought his big hairy dog, we all ate fish and chips and mulled over the show. I called a man who said he would definately come on board, so from tomorrow its all elbows to the grindstone and noses to the wheel in the hope that we can pull in favours, make a pilot and all retire to the Gruttocks.
I collected my pen knife - £20. I collected my car. £18.60 I collected my thoughts £priceless. And I arrived home and collected my manicure set.! Jackson was so pleased to see me he nearly bit through my pink Crocs.
The Jim boy got home at 7.30, we had a lovely supper and watched England lose to Croatia, he read his script and I came up here to write to you lot.
Thank you for your self sufficiency stories. So far most of you have apologised for not having anthing self sufficient to say. Suffice to say that a little sufficiency is better than no sufficiency and your nothings are better than a lot of somethings so keep 'em coming, and thank you.
Tomorrow we have a meeting at LBC. Mr.Richard Parks is addressing the work force, ooooeeeeee, I'd better iron out my creases.
Och Aye but it's nice to be home.
night night and cul8tr.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
so glad to hear that British Airways serves up exactly the same breakfast on your domestic flights as the do on theirs here in South Africa, even to the same grey sausage and center frozen roll! Well at least all the British football followers will feel at home when they come to visit in 2010.
I stayed at the Brunswick Hotel last year when I saw the Stones in Glasgow and was struck on how friendly and helpful the staff were. Although it's one of these smallish boutique hotels I think it's family run. I would also recommend it - and dead central too.
Good luck with your programme idea, fingers and toes crossed . xxx
The only tale I have of self sufficiency is one of failure. When I was little back in the 50s my Dad decided to have a compost heap (no compost bins back then), so we duly threw all the peelings and so on on the heap, until we went out one day and spotted two rats on their hind legs throwing the stuff about and generally having a rare time.
Needless to say - that was the end of the compost heap.
Love Fee xox
I got put off self sufficiency at a tender age, when I won the 'Green Bean Competition' in my first year at grammar school. I had tended 'Billy the Bean' lovingly for weeks and he grew ten times the size of anyone else's (probably cos my mum was slipping it the odd dose of Baby Bio). The headmistress called me up to the stage during assembly to receive my prize and all was wonderful in my world until, her cocker spaniel, who came to school with her every day, took a shine to my shoe laces and tripped me up as I left the platform. I tumbled over, Billy the Bean flew through the air and shattered on the floor reducing the whole school to helpless fits of laughter. I still feel embarrassed when I think about it but it'll be one to tell the grandchildren!!
You really are a 'Tonic' many thanks for cheering us all up each day. we really do appreciate it, and you. Just heard that Simon Cowell is unhappy with the veiwing figures for X Factor 2007 and may replace 'The Bore?? with a famale?? I truly hope that you! are the new host of X Factor 2008 ooooh What a great Saturday night we could have. You really are TOO good not be on main television. NB. I did see you last year appear on 'loose Women' As always you were very entertaining, but? Better than the usual load of...
Take care David
Hi Jeni, hope something comes of your trip to my hometown. It would be good to see you back on our screens.
Can't help with any self-sufficiency stories I'm afraid. At the moment our garden is still a very steep muddy slope we're waiting for the builders to fix!