Cringing in the Rain.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 7 March 2012

Last night I went to Somerset House to see a documentary film made by the Fully Focused community. We were all given a postcard on which was writ: 4 months of filming, 60 interviews across the UK, 200 hours of editing, 45 hours of footage, 14 passionate young people bring you 'RIOT FROM WRONG'.

There was white, red and rosé wine, beer and water and a collection of notables. Lawyers for the Duggen family, community workers, journalists and the young people themselves.
We sat in silence as the riots from last year played out in a screening room on the Victoria Embankment

The last frame was a community worker who said we all have to work together as a community otherwise the riots will happen again.

The film was made on a shoe string by Teddy Nygh and his three partners. It is a film that must be supported for them and the work they do but also for us all.

On the train home I thought about our lost young people who have so much to offer and nowhere to put their talents. This morning the newspapers spoke of the rise in graduates having to take poorly paid unskilled jobs.

This afternoon I went to see 'Singing in The Rain'

The tickets were £90 each.

Your wonderful comments inspired me to fall out of bed, even though it was pelting, and walk the walk of the committed.

The rain was lashing against the window but I donned my walking shoes and a yellow and cerise anorak I've had for years. Given to me by the BBC when I did a lot of outdoor filming. It's nearly thirty years old but it still does the job. I pulled the laces tight round the hood and made a knot, grabbed the sleeves over my fingers and set out for my thirty minute constitutional.

The rain spattered onto my glasses and my head in my hood steamed them up so I abandoned them.

I myopically marched down the hill past the pub, the sound of the rain pitter-pattering on my hood felt like I was walking with a tent on my head. Through the canvas I heard the thwack of a golf ball.

Why would anybody want to be putting on a day like today? The rain was cutting in from the South. Bouncing off the tarmac. Falling in a slant onto the wet road.

It was cold.

I walked faster.

Being blind meant my other senses were more acute. The grass smelt sweet, and I could hear the outside world from inside my hood. One crow cawed, one pheasant chuckled and one white Volvo drove past me shattering the myth that Volvo drivers are the safest on the road.

The hedgerows were dripping. Hawthorn, holly, hawthorn, holly, hawthorn, holly. Then the hawthorn stopped suddenly to be replaced by unfriendly barbed wire supporting soggy old ferns.

Down the hill past the stream, and the rain was coursing down the road into the puddles and ditches.

One solitay primrose hid under some grass.
Further up the hill a patch of yellow primroses kept each other company embedded in moss. Some kept closed - I don't blame them - all nodded under the weight of water. Moss is like coffee, it always smells better than it tastes. Moss always looks softer than it is. The bare trees shivered in the wet wind, the moss clung to the banks.

Then the beeper went off by Lime Kiln Woods. I could barely find it in my pocket which was wet through, my fingers were atrophied from the icy rain. A quick press of the button and it was the return journey.

Even though my vision was blurred, my tissues sodden and my anorak dripping, I was beginning to feel the blood course through my veins, and then I saw one, two three beer cans squashed flat, whole, thrown down between the primroses. I counted at least nine. It occurred to me that tea drinkers dont throw their teapots out of car windows, coffee drinkers dont throw their cafétiers onto grass verges, so why the friggin hell do beer-drinkers feel it's their right to throw cans into the contryside. Gods Gift said if they were made of pewter they wouldn't do it, thats the cans not the drinkers, and that it's part of the throw away society. Well the cans are not made of pewter they are made of tin and they are blighting my landscape.

I got to the pub and wanted to complain to the landlady for allowing her customers to dump their containers. But it's hardly Jills fault. I got so steamed up about it I undid my hood.

The farmhouse had lit a fire, the smell of wood smoke wafted out of the chimney pots. Took me back thirty eight years to being in love, in Wales, when the only thing to worry about was getting a double top at 'The Bear' in Crickhowell. That kind of thing impressed the old git, I must have done something right since he's still here with his set of darts.

Thirty minutes later I was home in the warm. Used the kitchen step to peel of my wet walking shoes and dumped the anorak and the rest of my soggy clobber in the machine. I had 45 mins to get ready. The 'oosbind drove me to TWells. l just managed the 12.09, jumped onto the train when the stations ticket seller tapped me on the shoulder. He had run out of the ticket office and jumped onto the train to give me my receipt for the taxman, let me tell you that felt a lot like community.

Easy journey into town then up Charing Cross Road to The Palace Theatre.

I stood under the fancy theatre roof out of the rain. I was the youngest person there. I had elected to go to a matinee so my guest could get a babysitter. I was the only one without an umbrella. The only one that wasn't wearing beige Marks and Sparks trousers, the only one without a rain hat. It took ten minutes to get to my seat as the queue was held up by walking sticks, Sunday drivers and very loud ladies wearing 'Yardley' lavender.

I sat in row 'L', away from the water. 'Singing in the Rain.' has a unique selling point; the first five rows get very wet indeed as the singers dance in the rain and deliberately kick water in the faces of the ticket buying public. Had I been in the front row I may well have complained that my very expensive drip dry jersey trousers were being soaked by the hoofers. This Wednesday afternoon audience, however, were game for a laugh as they squelched with delight when the taps were turned up as the tapper sploshed around in the water. Squeals of delight could be heard in the lavatory queue in the interval. And the water companies are talking about a hose ban....

Th audience loved the show, in fact Row 'M' behind me whooped and whistled so loudly you would have thought they were watching Bruce Springsteen giving it large in Detroit.

Th dancers are fit, the rain is wet and the cast wear colourful clothing. I am interviewing Michael Brandon, who is coming in on on Sunday, to talk about the show, do join us.

On the way to the station it hailed. The light was yellow as the rush hour crowd bundled into Charing cross. I caught the train with one minute to spare, tried to do the cryptic crossword in the 'Evening Standard' and fielded phone calls from my voice over agent, we kept losing each other in the tunnels.

They called me last week telling me to pencil in a date as there was a radio campaign for Alaska and I was up for it. Great I thought maybe I'll get a free trip to the 51st state. The phone jangled it was my agent confirming the gig.

'Keep the 13th and 14th free' he said.

'Great it's Alaska then? ' I said

'Why Alaska?' he said

'I was told last week it was a campaign for Alaska'

'No' he said. 'Elastoplast.'

Bit of a sticky moment, but maybe I'll get a job lot of waterproof plasters be just the thing for weather like this.

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


1. At March 8, 2012 1:25 PM LV wrote:

Jeni,....don't you mean bandaid??......sorry couldn't resist!
Love Light LV

2. At March 8, 2012 7:50 PM Marmite wrote:

Still spend many a Saturday in The Bear Jeni, it hasn't changed a bit the food is excellent and the atmosphere wonderful.
Much love Marmite xx

3. At March 8, 2012 10:32 PM 'L' wrote:

Wow Jeni, good for u! You're really taking your walking seriously. My glasses steamed up too whilst on my virtual walk with u! I too don't get put off by the climate, whether rain, wind or heat.
Keep it up!

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.