from Butterflies to Biscotti

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 5 July 2011

Gods Gift came to the flat on Sunday and cleared up after I ejected an egg in and around the bathroom.

Whatever's going on with my body only it knows but today meant I had to take it in hand. My projectile emission has resulted in me losing my voice, my eye worse than yesterday and my skin the colour of Christine Bleakley's under arms.

My eye, which was recovering very well thank you, is now the colour of raw venison. It hurts and its all because I impatiently tried to make it better. So this morning it was a trip to my acupuncturist who plunged needles into places where a prick has never been. I then took the public transport system into Covent Garden and bought three remedies from Helios Pharmacy.

Met B and we sat in Frith Street, opposite 'Ronnie Scotts' and had lunch in 'Bar Italia'.

I LOVE BAR ITALIA. I love Veronica and Anthony, the brother and sister act who own the place. It's been handed down father to son, over the past 60 years, barista to barista, the same coffee machine and the same mosaic floor since 1949. For 60 years 'Bar Italia' has served the best coffee in town. I love the chat from the people round the tables. I love the coffee --- mmmm do I love that coffee!

I love the freshness of their salad, the freshness of the waitresses and I love that they love me. Oh Come On, I am a performer after all. My fathers dead and my mum doesnt count cos she thinks the sun shines out of my artifacts, so I need the approval of anybody I can get. And I get a lot of Italian schmooze in 'Bar Italia'.

After coffee, salad, a chat with a director we met in the sunshine, B caught the 38 bus back to Hackney and I caught the 38 bus back to Victoria, my body rumbling from coffee and biscotti.

Italy features a lot over the last two days as I took the daughter to see 'Madama Butterfly' at the Royal Opera House last night. The 'oosbind would rather play golf and play solitaire than sit amongst the well heeled listening to Puccini of a Monday night in July.

It occurred to me that the reason that the high and mighty like Opera is that it 'feels' on their behalf. It emotes all over their stiff upper lips, although surely I wasn't the only person snuffling into my Kleenex when the lights went down at the end of Act One, or maybe I was....

I have filmed at The ROH several times, I have walked past it, oggled it, remarked on it and wondered what it would be like to actually sit in the stalls near the orchestra pit. Well last night, thanks to Aunty Beeb and my love of anything cultural I was invited as a guest, and allowed to bring a guest to boot, and it didn't have to be a Jimmy Choo boot either.

I drove my little red car into Covent Garden, timing it just right to miss the congestion charge. Parked at the back of the Drury Lane Theatre and watched the cast of SHREK milling around in the warm evening. Telphoned my parking fee which was the grand sum of 88 pence and sauntered to the Opera House to collect the tickets.

Only one snotty usherette who was too tall for her boots and way too far up her own back row to be allowed, showed us to our seats.

It was too early so the daughter and I wandered around Covent Garden, sat down for a cuppa in the middle of a family of the most beautiful Arab Women this side of Jordan, left before the waitress came as we were running out of time and entered the rarified world of Puccini and pearls and took our seats in Row 'L'.

If I stood up on tip-toe I could actually see the orchestra's assembled heads and bows.

I needed the loo so made a dash for the cloakrooms.

'Be Quick' said another usherette, which ruffled me as I knew one false move and I wouldn't be allowed back in. I rushed and slid off one seat into another red, plush seat just in time for the conductor to raise his baton and count us into the music.

Bee clocked the tickets of the girl sitting next to me who I swore was Princess Eugenie, and noted that one seat was 178.

In the interval we were treated to wine, red or white, open sandwiches with enough coiled smoked salmon to bait a whale, with conversation from a handful of guests who had also been invited for whatever reason. It was confirmed that our seats were indeed 356 quids worth of velvet but that the evening was being beamed out - on big screens - to the Great British unwashed from Swindon to Trafalgar Square from Leicester to Belfast.

We were part of an historical moment.

The crowds were shoulder to shoulder like the bods on Henman Hill, from Aberdeen to Walthamstow, from Norwich to Swansea, the sultry air heavy with the exquisite music from Butterfly's Prelude.

And let me remind you that next Wednesday, the 13th of July, you can see CINDERELLA from Dover to Derby on the big screens. Well done those ROH wallers.

Blimey but Puccini knows his onions, and his sushi not to mention his pasta and pathos.

The stage was simply but effectively designed. The lighting ravishing. The orchestra lush. Kristine Opolais , and James Valenti, were riveting as the tragic lovers, the rest of the cast were utterly trustworthy whilst the little blonde haired son was dealt with superbly as Madama B. held her hands over his ears as she belted out Giacomo's blistering arias and when the first act concluded, with the twinkling lights and the song of the stars reverberating round WC2 the only noise that could be heard was me blowing into my tissue.

The geezer behind me, who I think was an opera lover and critic, shouted BRVO, no 'a's for him. The audience jumped to its feet and so we stood applauding a wonderful evening for nearly five minutes.

Took the girl back to E8. Myself to SW11 and then proceeded to destroy the evening by over indulging my left eye.

Drops, camomile tea, Mr Tetly's tea-bags and endless trips to the bathroom to bathe my wretched eyeball was of no comfort as my conjunctiva looked like a Pelopidas conjuncta, commonly known as the `Conjoined Swift, this butterfly is dark......My eye was dark and as swollen as the tea-house of an August Moon, the only consolation being ISLA BLAIRS 'Tigers Wedding' which kept me company as the sun came up.

When Cio-Cio-San thrust her fathers dagger in her chest petals fell off the magnolia tree upstage right, whilst the little blonde haired boy was blindfolded and turned away from his suicidal mother. Let me tell you by 5.30a.m. after a night of no sleep I knew just how she felt, I was spitting daggers in the key of a minor injury.

Still I now have eyewash, and a rather less red white, it's now gone a puce pink, although its scant comfort knowing I'm sharing the settee with Mr. Whale tomorrow on 'This Morning'. I may have to wear dark glasses in the manner of an Italian starlet.....I might just nip back to 'Bar Italia' and borrow one of Veronicas head scarves....a scooter and one of the Italian waiters who would certainly put Signore Whale in his place eh? Anyway tutti ensemble 'Ciao for now'.

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


1. At July 6, 2011 9:00 PM LV wrote:

JENI i enjoyed reading your rendition on the ROH. I'd like to sample a little Tutti ensemble at the ROH for myself some time. How funny it's full of 'stiff uppers' - as how any one can understand, least of all enjoy the workings of heart with a 'stiff upper' is quite the contradiction in terms really, isn't it?

Anyhow, i just took a quick look at the iplayer 'This Morning' version, with yourself and James Whale. He's much more gracious on tv than radio. On his best behaviour i suppose.
Anyway you look amazing Jeni. I know that if i and so many other women can look that good and together at sixty or so, then we can consider ourselves not just very fortunate but blessed.
#i know you wont mind me saying sixty or so - as your always saying it#
So please 'let go' of the self doubt along with the trappings of Battersea and open the all-seeing eye of thy heart...

Love and Light LV

2. At July 8, 2011 10:56 PM Rhianon wrote:

Are you better now? Life is a bit nuts on times, isn't it? Who knows what causes our bodies to rebel. I hope yours is behaving itself now. All the best.

3. At July 9, 2011 8:02 PM Rob Gaydon wrote:

Your eye problem might be down indirectly to mars (energy, the eyes) being in gemini (eyesight). Mars has been in that sign the past few weeks. Tomorrow it reaches that point in the zodiac where it was the day Rebekah Wade (Brooks) was born. It returns to any given point after 1.88 years.

Rebekah has it more or less aligned by the moon.

4. At July 9, 2011 9:10 PM Rob Gaydon wrote:

I should have written mars returns every 2 years to any given point. The 1.88 year period is the orbital time reckoned from the viewpoint of the sun - not earth - and has a different astrological significance.

5. At July 10, 2011 5:55 AM Shelley Pedersen wrote:

hope the eye has improved, can't honestly believe it has anything to do with Mars :) but then some people believe anything.

6. At July 12, 2011 1:48 AM Jose wrote:

I'm so glad you've left LBC. The station sounds so much more reliable and sophisticated now.

7. At July 12, 2011 2:10 PM Seat Covers wrote:

Uglier and uglier... just when you thought it was safe to go back into phone hacking, even less palatable details emerge. Gordon Brown now says the hackers were after details of his children, a dreadful revelation. Whatever is going to come out next?

8. At July 13, 2011 3:33 PM Ella Cash wrote:

Good luck to Northern Ireland's 22-year-old Rory McIlroy on winning the US Open. It's 'life-changing' he says. Well, I think we'd all agree with you there, young Rory, and perhaps later on in life as well as being good at golf perhaps you'll grow a talent for not stating the bleedin' obvious! LOL!

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