London Sunday

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 November 2009

There are so many leaves around that I await the train cancellations.

Sunday in London consisted of up late and a shower. A long, hot shower which went cold in the middle because Jim put the tap on in the kitchen.

Then a slow drive to Borehamwood to visit ma mere. We stopped in, I gave her two books, and then we drove off to Shenley.

Shenley was the home to my first boyfriends, uncles greencrocers. Back in the 60's life was simpler. He would bring me gifts of satsumas an exotic gift in them days. Each weekend we would box up his uncles fresh fruit and veg then deliver it to Shenley's massive mental home. It was vast, with lavatory green corridors and a lot of inmates.

Both the shop and hospital are now gone. The greengrocers is a bijous cottage and the hospital a housing estate

There is no way I could live there, the screams must be buried in the earth somewhere. I'm not sure I would want the howling of insane souls permeating up through my floor boards. I used to play the piano for concerts in Shenley, made friends with several patients. I think they saw a like minded sister, my brother lasted one night in their laundry and had to leave, it was too much for him. My friend Enid worked there as a nurse, indeed many of the locals - well most actually - worked in the hospital. Stories of her charges used to frighten me. I once got lost in an asylum in Tooting. I was there for a radio interview, trying to find the exit as I ran up and down the corridors bumping into certified lunatics terrified me. Needless to say I never made the interview. Put me off hospital radio for years....

We had lunch in THE WHITE HORSE pub. Newly decorated. Blonde wood and big chairs. The food is okay. But I yearn for english pubs to make what they're good at instead of mimicking television chefs or European bistros.

The 'oosbind had fish and chips and mushy peas I had a haddock rarebit. The green salad was good.

Then onto visit the dog Baily and her family. The nephew and his crew, the dog is so lovely all wrinkly and calm not a little like the old git.

We left Hertfordshire at four and arrived back at the off-license by 5.00.

A crate of wine later, apples cooking down with cinnamon, roast lamb roasting with garlic and potatoes, and the smell of autumn in the air, its not been a half bad Sunday.

Shakeel my seamster is arriving with my outfit for Tuesday - I am presenting an award at the Curry Oscars- he'll prick me with his pins, have a glass of something, then leave.

Then it's the ' X factor', I bloody hope the 'Jedward' abomination leaves, either them or the young Welsh lad who gets right on my aberysthwick.

I am taking Sue Townsend's THE PROSTRATE YEARS to bed, it makes me laugh, all being well it'll make me sleep.

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


1. At November 1, 2009 8:13 PM June wrote:

Hi Jeni

Oh how I agree with you re: the former mental hospitals that have been turned into up market housing. I have far too vivid an imagination to want to live there. I only ever visited a mental hospital once (many years ago) to pick up a friend who was working there, it was for me heartbreaking.

Your Sunday sounds perfect, enjoy.

Love June

2. At November 6, 2009 8:36 PM Shakeel wrote:

Sorry I pricked .........

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