I'm walking backwards from Scotland

Posted by Jeni in LBC | 29 January 2008

Well, where do I start?

I think I'll go backwards.

I've just called Jim and asked him to make me a file for my funny speeches, I then telephoned a woman from 'Funny Women', who I think is going to teach me how to do 'Stand-Up'. I have eaten my way through a whole cabbage- boiled hard, with a knob of butter and then smothered in three slices of veggie rice cheese. I watched the cheese melt unctiously over the sweet cabbage leaves.

I've changed into my purple pyjama trousers with the 2 holes in the back, the small round perforations are the only way I know I'm not wearing them back to front, the outfit is topped off with a horrible blue t-shirt so now I am ready to settle down to upblogdate you all.

It was lovely to be back in the chair at LBC. Steve, my producer, is cleverly teaching me how not to be an idiot. I am paranoid, especially when I'm tired, and superstitious, doubly so when I'm knackered, and completely unable to think when I'm sleep deprived.

All of which I was.

The show garnered fewer calls than normal, Steve says that callers do not necessarily make a good show, but loads of you emailed and texted. I missed a news junction because I was trying to read a newspaper article I wanted to include. It was horrrible, after 4 weeks I should not be messing up so royally but my brain was hazy and fuzzy, I kept getting my knickers in a twist.

JANET STREET PORTER came in to talk about her fab new book. 'LIFE'S TOO F*ING SHORT.' She is a breath of fresh air, so honest and funny. I was chuffed that she included us on her publicity jaunt. It is, actually, a very good book. Direct, wise and insightful. Well worth a read.

Over the three hours we covered, bullying, racism, the demise of dining rooms, Nigella Lawson and exercise. By the time I left the building at 4.15, I was utterly numb.

The reason for my exhaustion - 'THE SCOTTISH RESTAURANT AWARDS'

Having been ill last week I was not 100% but still on Monday morning Gae, my emanuensis, PA, housekeeper and dog lover, drove me to Gatwick for the 12.00 o'clock flight to Edinburgh. We left the cottage, and Jackson, at 9.45.

The route to Gatwick is through the Ashdown Forest, rolling hills and deer. The mist was rising, our conversation didn't falter until we arrived at departures bang on 10.30.

The check in was easy, all this automated ticket nonsense. I walked straight through with my one red case, until something inside caught the security guards eye. My plastic bottle of feminine wash-stuff was bigger than 100mls, the fact that the bottle was only half full mattered not a jot to the portly policewoman she confiscated it anyway. Amid much embarrassment and confusion my grubby pink bottle of personal hygenated soap-stuff was placed on top of the x-ray machine for the whole of Sussex to see.

I bought a hummus and vegetable wrap from Boots, 'The Daily Record' and 'The Independent' from W.H.Smith, then sat down near a screen to eat my breakfast. I looked up for my flight details, my eyes were not deceiving me, it had been delayed because of early morning fog, we were now leaving one hour later at 1.00.

I was delighted, it meant an extra hour away from facing my demons.

All day Sunday I wrote.

An 11 minute speech.

My first attempt at proper stand-up.

All day Sunday in between reading the papers, cooking a sumptious roast lamb with anchovy butter and watching Tottenham get thrashed by Man U. I wrote. I had no idea whether my words, and Jim's erudite contributions would work on the canny Scots, so the aeroplane delay gave me some welcome breathing space.

I arrived at Edinburgh airport at 2.15. The sky was low and grey. The wind catching and the air as crisp as a dirk. As we drove towards Arthurs Seat I called the hairdressers to cancel my wash and blow-dry, the big grey personnel carrier fetching me to the Sheraton Hotel got me there in time to re-book the hairdresser and re-instate my blow and hot wash.

I left my script on the swivel chair, a wee stylist ran after me with my words and her tattooes blowing in the wind.

I checked in at the fancy Sheraton reception, took the lift up to the fourth floor, only for it to stop at the third. The doors remained closed, surprisingly I didn't panic but I did push the emergency bell three times. Nobody came so I pressed the button to open the doors, they did. I walked the two flights of stairs to the fourth floor and found room 419. Everywhere smelt of the hyacinths that were displayed in every nook and cranny. I dumped my little red case and took the short walk round to the Edinburgh Conference Centre. I felt like a Christian going to be slaughtered on account of the circular nature of the place.

The organising gels were more than friendly whilst Jackie, the autocue wizard, typed up my 11 minutes of potential lethal material, after which we set about rehearsing.

400 guests were to be seated at perfectly laid round tables with four glasses a piece, 7,000 forks and spoons, 49,000 knives and plates, name cards, menus, bottles and flowers, whilst the gold trimmed chairs were to have 200 naked bums placed upon them on account of the fancy kilts that most of the men would be wearing. It was a black-tie do so there was a lot of wine, women and plunging necklines that out-shone the cascading fairy lights.

Back in room 419, ( I had got stuck on the third floor again only to be instructed later that I needed to insert my door-card-key-effort into the required slot so that I could get to the residential floor ) I slipped into my sequined dress. Okay I squeezed, pressed, lifted and tucked myself into my sequined straight jacket, put on my trainers and shoved everything else into the Sheraton's laundry bag so I could walk sensibly back to the conference centre.

Jackie and I went through the auto-cue changes, got lost trying to find my dressing room where my high heels were waiting. Having walked around for far too long I finally found the room, pulled of my trainers, slipped on my stillettos, took a breath and We... Were...Off.

The evening was a success, the meal all guinea fowl and fancy timmings, a near triumph and by 11.30 it was all over. My dress was clinging to my adipose tissue on account of the exertion at the mik, but I left with a happy glow and the thought of the fifteen foot bed waiting for me in room 419.

I slipped my card into the slot, sailed up to the fourth floor, peeled myself out of my sweaty sequins, called Bee and Jim then set my alarm for 4.45. I fell asleep like a contented baby, my speech had worked, the cues were bang on, the winners of the awards were delightful and my demons had been but tiny little gnats that I squished between my fingers.

At 2.00 a.m I was rudely awakened by my telephone. An American friend decided to text me 6.00 pm their time. I didn't know where I was, couldn't work out what a panda was doing in my bedroom, realised it was the sofa, fell out of bed and contextualised myself by opening the curtains, putting on the television, eating all the free biscuits, a packet of shortcake, a box of pringles, and a bottle of water from the mini bar.

It was now 3.00 am.

At 4.00 I was watching an Open University programme about Brazil and before you could say 'Pass me my Samba beats' my alarm went off. I had fallen into a deep sleep for all of 14 minutes.

I was out of room 419 by 5.00.

The Big Scottish taxi driver got me to the airport by 5.30.

I had a croissant and peppermint tea in the lounge and marvelled at the country that is the heart disease capital of the World. There were a lot of pasty people pacing the place. I bought a Scottish 'Daily Mail', fell asleep over page 3 and was woken to board the plane at 6.25. Ate their disgusting breakfast. How is it possible that a scrambled egg can burn the soft tissue off the soft palate whilst a bread roll is still frozen and al dente? How do they do make a sausage look like a dead mans thumb and turn the tea into drain cleaner?

We got to Gatwick at 8.15. The inside of my mouth felt like an old, gritty persian carpet.

Gae, my long suffering PA, emanuensis, cleaner, dog walker and all round girl-guide was sitting outside in the arrival bay. We drove through the misty morning, through the East Grinstead school run and arrived back at the cottage by 9.40. Jackson was so happy to see me, I cried as I had to leave immediately.

I stopped off at the opticians to have my glasses fixed. All through the awards ceremony either side of my nose was being pierced by two sharp clips, the little rubber pads had fallen off. I ended up looking like a crusty old librarian with two massive nose-dents, all the better shown up by the bright lights of the Edinburgh conference Centre lighting rig.

PEEPERS fixed my nose pads, then I drove, like the clappers, to get to LBC in time to prepare the show. Steve was there, having done all the hard work.

This morning I was in Scotland, after two hours sleep I had flown 575 miles and driven over 50, my head left like a discarded pair of airtex underpants, which is what I thought of my performance today - pants!.

I want to say a big thank-you to my producer for getting me through it and to all of you for making the show stand up.

It's now 20.34, I have got about as much energy as a toy rabbit with dead batteries, but I'm home. The river is flowing, the Scottish winners are happily back in their kitchens, Bee is here, Jim is performing, Jackson is being baby sat by Jonathan and Gae has finally parked the car. After a good nights sleep I will be back tomorrow. All being well Gabriel, the patron saint of Radio, will be hovering over Latimer Road, and the airwaves will crackle with your conversation. I look forward to it. cu2morrow.

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

Comments

1. At January 29, 2008 9:09 PM chrissie carcassonne wrote:

Now thats what you call a blog!
Have been doing my Facebook profile. Its so complicated. Perhaps I am just too old..NO NEVER!!!!!
Love
Chrissie x x

2. At January 30, 2008 9:35 AM David wrote:

Hi Jeni,
What a great blog! Not sure where you get the time from to keep writing but it's very much appreciated.
Stand-up sounds good, maybe you should do one of those 'An audience with' shows for ITV like Victoria Wood and Ken Dodd have done, You'd be such a laugh!!
I listen to your programme on my Pc whilst I'm working and it's brilliant, you manage to cram in so much in a few hours. Janet Street P is fantastic, she really could'nt give a double S--t which is so funny.
Take care!!
David

3. At January 30, 2008 8:23 PM Fee wrote:

Oh Jeni you managed to visit Edinburgh on the most depressing day for years! It was dark all day and rained incessantly. I was wishing I could jet off to the Equator.

I'm downloading your podcasts as I can't listen at work, it's even better without the ads and news and weather.

Glad you're back bloggin.
Love Fee xxxx

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.