Skating on thin ice

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 28 February 2010

No cottage this weekend. I miss the green, the cat, my neighbour Jonfan. I miss the air, the dark the peace BUT this weekend its been all systems go.

I rushed out of the flat this morning to buy B her birthday present.

Into Battersea High Street to a wonderful antique shop. There was a cushion I had my eye on, and a Buddah that had its eye on me.

I had under an hour to shop for her 23rd birthday.

Parked the car in a little bay and walked round the houses in the pouring rain.

The two women who own the shop are lovely.

The cushion cost 200.

'Where's it from?' I gasped.

'India.' they said. 'It's handmade.'

If it was handmade in india you can bet your bottom Rupee that somebody was cashing in on the cushion and it wasn't the people who made it.

'How much is the Buddha?' I dared to ask.

250, was their reply, without a hint of irony.

Buddha would not have accepted half a monkey on his behalf.

So I left the shop empty handed and drove back to the flat in the rain. I'll find something next week.

Walked to Battersea Bridge. The river was high and the light a sharp, crisp yellow. The 345 arrived immediately.

Lovely route, over the bridge, down Beaufort Street, right onto Fulham Road, a couple of dogs legs and there was South Kensington Tube. The tunnel takes 12 minutes to walk, and there I was at The Albert Hall. The ticket office wasn't open for an hour so I went upstairs to their cafe. I ordered a mug of hot water with three slices of lemon, I say slices they were more like afterthoughts.

Made calls to the kids and then turned to the woman sitting next to me who started to talk. As if I had pressed a button Margaret Dance's stream of consciousness flowed.

She had Parkinsons, had come up on the train from Whitstable, althought she didn't like oysters, her husband had been an alcoholic and mentally abused her so unfortunately she left him after fourteen years. She was a Jehovahs Witness because her mother was an orphan so she had no kith or kin, The Jehovahs people were her family and friends. When Armageddon comes there will be 144,000 souls that will be saved so Margaret was putting in her order. She treated herself to a ballet when she could afford it, she was sixty five and got her pension, disability allowance and her rent paid for by the council who were very good to her. Her papery, white skin, looked dry and thin as she pulled out her Jehovah's Witness card that said she wouldn't take a blood transfusion. She had never seen anybody ask for a mug of hot water before and was concerned that the cafe might think she was taking liberties sitting there and not ordering food. She had spent 51 on buying a ticket to see the Russian All Stars ice skate their way through 'Cinderella'. She couldn't eat anything because she was so excited, was going to get the 5.22 train back to Gillingham, and had spent 10 on a taxi each way from Victoria. She said she was going to visit the little girls room, thanked me for talking to her - which I didn't I merely listened - and Ms Dance disappeared into the lavatory.

Zoe, Corin, and Maia arrived just after one. I collected our tickets, B arrived 15 minutes before the show, burst into tears because every tube line had been closed for engineering work so her journey had been traumatic. We bought apple juice, nuts, Maltesers,water and ice-cream, but were'nt allowed in with the glass bottles so we downed the fizzy drinks in the corridor and took our seats in row L, door 9, with all the other ice-skating enthusiasts.

Just how many times can you skate backwards and forwards, do a double axel and perform an icy 'Riverdance' before all the children are squirming, the adults sshing them, the children balling, the adults wondering just why they had spent so much money on a re-telling of 'Cinderella' which looked like a scene out of Eisenteins 'Battle Ship Potemkin', too many times is the answer. I was sitting next to a woman who describes shows to the blind, She had seen the show four times and still couldn't make hop nor talo jump of what was going on. The team of 23 were brilliant ice skaters but had about as much charisma as a latex kitchen glove. Maia ended up fast asleep, half undressed, and prostrate over her parents laps.

When we were released from the Russian Dancapeligo the five of us felt like we had earned our freedom.

I took the mob to a Polish Restaurant by the tube, I haven't been there for over twenty years. We had sausages and potato pancakes, meatballs and mash with carrots cooked in ginger and honey. We shared a pancake of cream cheese and cranberries and marvelled at the paper tablecloths that the waiter wrote the order on. Maia wrote her name and drew round her hand, my hand and whatever other hands she could lay her hands on.

The waiters came to the table with their frying pans and chopped up herbs on wooden boards that appeared to be placed in strategic parts of the restaurant. I can't remember the name of it and the bill was of no help as it was just a scrap of paper. But the authenticity comes highly recommended.

The Victoria, Jubilee, Central and Metropolitan lines were still shut so the Piccadilly line turned into Toyko central. We were crammed together like tightly rolled sushi. B held onto me so I wouldn't get crushed. I got out at Covent Garden she at Holborn. She went off into the night to to carouse with her friends. I went to the Duchess Theatre to see 'Ghosts'.

How is it possible to see two duds in one day. 'Ghosts' had about as much charisma as two latex kitchen gloves. By the time I got to Clapham Junction I was all cultured out. It's 1.13a.m. the old git has just walked in, I've mde him chicken wings and salad and then we'll swap stories. He about Warwickshire and Romola Garai and me about London and Inna Volianskaya, Valery Spiridonov, Ilona Melnichenko, Olga Volozhinskaya, Stanislav Voituk, and Tatiana Voituk.

night night.

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


1. At February 28, 2010 11:32 AM Vee Deplidge wrote:

Please may I point out the Imperial Ice Stars (Cinderella) are NOT 'THE RUSSIAN ICE STARS' my company is.

I am so tired of people mistaking their show for ours.

We were the originators almost 20 years ago and the skaters Inna Volianskaya, Valery Spridonov, Iilona Melnichenko, and the rest worked for me in the early Wild Rose shows. Please ckeck our website. also

All our shows are original and copied from no one.

Currently we are touring,Snow White, in the Uk to critical acclaim, as always

Please do NOT insult the real 'Russian Ice Stars' who are recognised as the best company of professional ice skaters in the world
Vee Deplidge

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