Mercury in Retro-rage....

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 2 April 2011

My return to London started from Eridge, a one track station, down the hill from the cottage. The 9.51, a train with six coaches coloured a kind of eau-de-nil type green, arrived on time as the birds shouted out about spring.

I had a bag full of salad and avocados, a bag full of books, shoes, clothes, diaries and vitamins and a head full of countrylife.

The old git dropped me off, I posted a letter in the station post box - lovely hole in the wall- and he drove off whilst I organised my ticket from the one man ticket booth from the one man ticket collector on the one track station. 6.80 from East Sussex to East Croydon then Clapham Junction, the perks of being an OAP.

Five of us boarded the 9.51 which was passably full. A few mothers and children and some middle aged crossword fanatics.

We chugged along through Ashurst, where I used to have colonic irrigation from a woman who had collies, thats dogs not a condition.

Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Hurst green, not necessarily in that order, then Oxted, where I decided to change trains.

Bumped into Sybil's manager and spent the rest of the journey yacking about boats and telly, theatre and parties. I got off at Clapham Junction, whilst the manager went onto Victoria to celebrate her dads retirement on a boat.

The 170 came just as I was deciding whether or not to walk to the flat, so I hauled my bags of salad and supplements onto the bus and climbed out before the bus had gone under the railyway bridge. Into the flat and before you could say 'Nostradamus', a retrograde Mercury hit with a vengeance.

For those of you, who like me know next to nothing about astrology, Mercury in Retrograde means all your communication and travel gets bolloxed. Let me tell you yesterday was one of the most frustrting days this side of Calcutter, which is where I ended up trying to get help for my ailing emails.

After agreeing to reveal all and sundry I shared my screen with a patient young man who kept asking me questions I could not answer. I tried to keep my patience, I really did, but when he asked me for my account number on a bill I paid three months ago, I lost it. Not majorly but enough for him to sigh and wish that he had taken up carpentry instead.

45minutes and 36 seconds later I had a new pass word and I could retrieve my emails. Terrific only my Blackberry went ping and I was told that my settings needed changing. How? I couldn't do it. My roomie tried to do it. She couldn't. Jim was 51 miles away cleaning his balls and playing golf with an actor so he was less than useless. The result no emails to my Blackberry. Which might not mean anything to normal people but in my world with constant emails from The Beeb, constant emails from The Barry, constant emails from the daughter, constant emails from Mac Cosmetics, life gets a little tricky. I had no idea who or what I was doing on tomorrows show and whether or not I was still loved by my assortment of friends not to mention the latest red lippy from Mr.Mac...

I left the flat and had lunch with a delightful Double-Barreled woman who treated me to the most delicious Chicken Caeser Salad in Bennetts, my new favourite eatery, a glass of champagne, a cup of frothy coffee and a really good chat. I cried - again - she told me it was suppressed emotions coming out, and the glass of bubbles.

Into 'Rolanda's' - the best dress shop in the United Kingdom, for an outfit for my evening wih Sister Snog, who had invited me to go to the O2 to see Peter Kaye. The dress code was black and white.

'Rolanda's' provided me with the best leggings and coat this side of Canary Wharf, indeed many sisters in snogville commented on my sequined boob tube and sparkly legs not to mention my black and white tiger coat and black and white hooped earrings which said 'I love you' in fancy scrawl. Actually when I put on the earrings I was still in a favourable mood Mercury hadn't kicked me in the tuchus at that point.

My journey to the O2 was a dream. Two stops to the Jubilee line then a few stops to North Greenwich, me and thousands of others spewed out of North Greenwich to see the very funny Peter Kaye. To be honest I didn't hold out much hope, Mr. Kaye's hype was so great I rather thought he couldn't live up to it.

I showed my ticket, which thankfully Jim had printed out at home, what with the break down of my email system in the flat I would never have been allowed in. Went up the escalator then down again into the VIP lounge. Over the noise of tinny music, chinking glasses, hot woks and manic matronly laughter I made several calls, no emails remember, to the mouthpiece of the Snogging Sisterhood. Not a whisper from the women in black and white. Went up the escalator again and found a little room where a whole pile of monochromed women were partaking of the Pimms and nachos. Surgeons, fashion designers, journalists and entrepreneurs were all gathered to network and nibble and enjoy the entertainment. I was greeted warmly and after a couple of chats took my seat for the comic.

The O2 is massive, as you know, Peter Kaye is one man with a shirt and a missing tooth. Three screens and a terrific sound system, good material and the first half was over before I knew it. Was this going to warrent a trip to Greenwich North. The second half started and Mr. Kaye worked us like Duracell rabbits. By the time the PImms had worked its magic Mr.Kaye made us laugh so much I wanted me 'oosbind. I needed to share the joke with the man who has shared my jokes for 35 years. Peter Kayes is truly funny. So funny he had thousands of us eating out of his hand, crying with laughter screaming for more, hands up in the air and wishing he would go on forever.

It was a very good night, Sister Snog did us proud.

And then Mercury smirked, that piggin' retrograde planet turned the return journey into the journey from from Hell.

I could not make the tube. All those thousands of fans tried to get down into the tube at the same time. Thousands and thousands of Kaynites shuffling noisily into the bowels of the earth. I could not take it so I decided to get the bus.

Silly me.

Which bus? Where was I? I took advice and boarded the 188 to Waterloo, which eventually turned up. The glow of Peter's gags already palling as a snake line of faintly freezing fans boarded the belated bus. Waterloo, then the overland to Clapham Juntion and the 170 to the flat. Easy peasy, so I thought.

It was around 10.30 p.m. Not too late and everything was possible I was still glowing from Kayes' shovel schtick. A quartet of Chinese girls, speaking perfect Mandarin, they are damned clever those Chinese, sat behind also still chuckling from the gags. The 188 filled up immediately and off we went trundling through Canary Wharf, I think, and various parts of London I had never seen before. When we got to Canada Water I saw a bus stop for the C10 and knew it went to Victoria. Fabbo I got off. Thank you Mercury for absolutely nothing....

It was now around 10.50. The next C10 was due at 11.09. It didn't arrive. people came and went. Another 188 arrived but I was too stubborn to board I had made my decision and I was going to stick to it. Conversations were struck up by worried travellers, Malaysian Pharmasists talked to posh PA's, Israeli students chatted with globetrotting Taiwanese, We all talked about the uselessness of London Transport, the lateness of the hour, the length of the journey, the duration of the wait, the Olympics and the waste of money spent on digging up London for it when the 11.20 C10 finally turned up at 11.29.

Well that's ok only I had to then travel from Canada Water all the way to Victoria. By the time we got to the Elephant and Castle the time was ticking away and I knew that the 170 would be out of commission. And so we drove through parts of London that looked as foreign to me as the back streets of Budapest. But Pimlico here we come and I started to recognise my manor when out of nowhere the bus driver told us all to get off the bus as it was terminating somewhere near Lupus Street. Which at 12.09 sounded less like a location and more like a disease.

Three London Underground night-workers disembarked and a postman with very long hair. He wished me a safe journey and disappeared into the night with his luminous postal satchel, I was stranded somewhere near the old Tate Gallery with nothing but me monochromed earrings and a heavy heart.

But hark, one taxi was turning on a sixpence and just about to leave the street when I legged it, all black and white of me and he took pity. After 15 quid and a sympathetic driver I eventually arrived back at the flat ready to release yet more suppressed tears.

In the six hours it had taken me to travel to hell and back my emails had crashed again.

The geezer from the call centre had done me a disservice and not logged in a proper password so I had to make yet another call to the sub continent. Yogesh, with the calmest voice in call centre-land talked me through the process, yet again. I ended up writing a glowing report about his ability to stop me panicking as I received a handful of out of date emails. Sykped the old man who kept pixilating and freezing before my very eyes, I was unhappy.

He had enough of my lamentations so went to bed and I was left in the wee small hours trying to get my Blackberry up and working.


I set the alarm for 8.00

Left the flat and walked in the sunshine to the Kings Road and the Vodaphone shop. Nobody starts work before 10.00 in SW3 so I had to take breakfast by the open air market outside Partridges.

At exactly 10.00 I walked through the door. Hussein and Daniel, one a Christian the other a Muslim and me the Jew, after an hour of passwords and regrouping of bantering and resetting finally restored my emails and my faith in humanity.

I was back in the loop. 74 emails pinged into view and it wasn't even late morning.

Walked back to the flat, met up with a young couple who want to live in the area and gave them a guided tour of Battersea. They bought me lunch in the Square, I had a plate of broccolli - a whole orchard of green trees covered in garlic and olive oil. Then a walk over the bridges past the Buddha in Battersea Park, over Chelsea Bridge, down Sloane Avenue and there was a Number 19 bus.

I left the youngsters and produced my freedom pass, 25 minutes later I dismounted on Battersea Bridge Southside, walked back to the flat where the old git had arrived replete with a loaf of bread a bit of lettuce and a bottle of Merlot.

Tonight I shall prepare a mothers day lunch and tomorrows show.

Saturday is nearly over, the old mans here, the Blackberry is in tact and I ain't going nowhere, that little ole planet can howl at the moon for all I care. I've done with my retro-rage, so it's ner ner ner ner neeer and up yours Mercury....

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


1. At April 2, 2011 8:15 PM Lyn Misselbrook wrote:

I read somewhere - I hope I am wrong - that Mercury is retrograde something like 15 days out of 30 ... it appears there is always a time when communications are blocked (and I have had to correct my typing about 15 times already!).
In the meantime, I know what you mean about travelling through parts of London about which you have no knowledge. What's worse is travelling through parts of London that you used to know (and the 188 bus route was one of them!) and how much it has changed and how often how poor those parts of London now are -
Happy mother's day to us both! L xx

2. At April 4, 2011 8:04 PM Lindy Fleetwood wrote:

Jeni am I allowed to make a suggestion?? on your Sunday show could you use just ten minutes to recommend books, i.e. a very mini book club? Example there is a book due out very soon from which there was an extract in one of the Sunday mags, This is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson being published on Thursday it looks an amazing read. If you could recommend just a couple of books a week it would be fantastic. Love to all xxhugxx

3. At April 6, 2011 8:36 PM Joanna wrote:

A Sunday Book Club slot sounds great. Just 5 minutes on the latest best sellers.
Worth a thought .... nothing heavy though.

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