24 hours.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 14 January 2012

Last year on January 14th Gods Gift took his bow along with Toby Young, Denise Gough and the rest of the cast of THE PAINTER, which debuted at the new Arcola in Hackney. At 10.10 precisely, the curtain came down on my my sister-in-law as she took her last breathe.

I stood on the stairs as the first night audience slapped backs and slurped cheap red wine.

It hardly seems possible that 52 weeks have elapsed since she died. My brother has brought flowers and I'm lighting candles.

A close friend died last Thursday.

'It's over.' said the text message.

2011 was a year of loss. This year, with the strangest of moons lying on her back, has already started intensely.

My mother in a home. Her anger with me for removing her from her flat is palpable. She imagines she was somebody else when she was there. As a family we had no choice but to place her in 24 hour care but I still carry the guilt of that decision like a pack mule with loaded saddle bags.

This morning I had to go to the chemist to collect a prescription for Gods Gift who is fighting a chest infection. Shopped for avocados and bacon then headed home.

One mile from home I could feel the black dog jump onto my shoulders.


The voice in my head found its way into my mouth. I screamed. An angry voice bellowing to my self. Last night I slept on the settee to take myself away from the 'oosbind who didn't need to hear my snuffling. I could have slept in the attic, in the baby room, I could have taken myself to the studio, I could have had a bath, but I decided to sleep on the big settee with a ton of cushions and the company of the cat.

I unloaded the shopping, tied up my bouncy trainers, put on a fleece, grabbed a little magnetic alarm clock from the boiler in the kitchen and set it for fifteen minutes. Turned left out of the cottage, down the slope and headed for the back road.

I walked fast, very fast, swinging my arms like a slalem skier. The inside of my head was noisy. After five minutes I could smell the air. I could hear the birds. After ten minutes I had worked up a sweat. When the beeper went at fifteen minutes I turned round and walked back. Very fast. Up hill.

Big birds shouting at each other from the top of the pines sounding like the chesty laugh of a Northern barmaid. Gun shots in the distance, the echo ricocheting over the fields. A buzz saw somewhere near the farm. Streams hissing over cold stones. Way over on the road an ambulance siren wailed. My breath explosive and fast. The noon sun shone on the bare oak trees hard and bright. The grasses and moss covered in needles of icy crystals. Hoary frost. White frost. I did not let up, after another fifteen minutes the cottage was in sight.

No cows, no sheep, no golfers, three cars that slowed down for me. The chattering chaos of my mind stopped. I had silenced the noisy clacking in my head in just half-an-hour.

As I write the saw is outside my studio. Who knew the buzzing was coming from home. The hedges are being trimmed next to the farm.

Twenty eight years ago I walked the back road with my mother. She picked the blackberries and talked about the lack of cows in the East End. We ate the fruit before we got home. Too early for black berries, the hedgerows have been sliced, flat tops, straight lines, the hawthorn and ivy, the holly and hazel trimmed ready for new growth.

January 14th 2012. We'll only get 24 hours of it then it'll disappear over the hedge like lost balloons. Novelist Melanie Benjamin says it better than I:

"What very mysterious things days were. Sometimes they fly by, and other times they seem to last forever, yet they are all exactly twenty-four hours. There’s quite a lot we don’t know about them.”

Quite a lot I don't know about anything.

Thank you all for your patience with me. It's good to know you are there.

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


1. At January 14, 2012 10:24 PM Lyn Misselbrook wrote:

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

e e cummings

Lyn x

2. At January 14, 2012 11:45 PM Rhianon wrote:

I'm sorry you lost your friend. We don't get enough real friends in life, do we? Plenty of aquaintances, and people who sort of connect, but friends, well, few and far between.
I liked your walk. The clean, blue, cold air is good for burning away lifes attacks. The colour of cut wood under the winter-white sun is always fresh and clean.

3. At January 15, 2012 2:29 PM Dan wrote:

I'm a hidden reader, one of those boring website visitor statistics that nobody ever pays attention to when they get their annual website bill. I have been checking in on you ever since you were on LBC and even remember you from all those years ago on TV-am, when I was six and you were.......oh well, it's now 15th Jan, a glorious sunny, crisp cold day and we have most of year ahead of us (can't actually be arsed to count how many days, should have posted this on Jan 1st really). I was planning on this most auspicious occasion (my first comment)to write "snap out it, you old bat". Typing out someone elses poem would have required far too much effort and to be honest, it would have only been lyrics from some crappy old Spice Girls song anyway. Welcome back :-)

4. At January 15, 2012 3:22 PM LV wrote:

YES, still here and your there. I'm listening watching and wishing Everyone a healthy and joyous 2012.

I love your descriptions of nature Jeni, like the poem above, there are glimpses of the Artless Art. Nature absorbs all our negativity and presents us with evermore of her beauty.

Just in clock time, tick tock, to show the black dog who is boss!
I recently read how a great initiate described how they had to learn over and over and over again on their stealth path, the meaning and truth of a single sentence of Epictetus: 'Things are never bad; it's the way you think about them.'
I couldn't stop thinking about that after i read it. It sums a single life and every life simultaneously...

Please be sure to take a big juicy bite out of the Big Apple for us all Jeni! won't You?
Don't forget to ask the Angels of Raphael to go with you. The protector of journeys as well as the Healer!
Love Light LV

5. At January 15, 2012 9:14 PM Margie wrote:

Love your blog and hope things look up for you very soon. Sometimes life can be very difficult and our minds work overtime ( sadly no overtime pay though!!) You know you had no choice with your Mother and I imagine her life will improve being cared for full time. I hope things get better soon.

6. At January 16, 2012 11:25 AM 'L' wrote:

Hi dear Jeni,
I do understand your feelings, but you should accept that your mother is where it's best for her to be at present. There are some things in life we want to do and some things we need to do. You didn't want to place her there for selfish reasons, you needed her to be there for her own good as this is the care she needs in her current condition although she may not realise it. It's easy to mix up the 'want' and the 'need' in all aspects of life. For example, if you only want to be fit it will never happen, whereas, if you need to be fit, you will strive to achieve it.
Keep your chin up Jeni and have faith that all is for the good and let's pray that this year will be as good as we want it to be.
All my love,

7. At January 17, 2012 8:36 AM June wrote:

Hallo Darling Girl

Just wanted to say have a great time in New York with your daughter and a safe journey. Think Thelma & Louise, no perhaps not! Enjoy.

Go with your feelings Jeni, if you feel sad let it be, those feelings are there to teach us something, fight it and it will keep coming back. Be kind to yourself.

Best love

8. At January 24, 2012 6:27 PM Teri Carnell wrote:

Phew... New Year, 2011 was the pits so not a hard act to follow. We are all fighting demons, well done you for sharing your thoughts and fears. Sometimes life is a challenge and lately most of the time it is a bitch but one way or another you are an inspiration to a lot of people so keep in touch with your blog cos we really do find it enspiring and more importantly keep smiling, you bring sunshine to a damp, dreary January day!Teri aka @PomosGirl x

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