Eye for an Eye

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 20 August 2014

My left eye has a lens for distance and my right for reading.

I am writing this wearing a pair of magnifying glasses I bought in the opticians. I can't read the prescription because if I take them off the print is too small to see. And if I wear them then the prescription is somewhere near my earhole. Back tomorrow to try and make the right reading lens stronger.

I shall take the lenses out at 6.30 and then set off for hot yoga. The studio is on holiday next week so I need to get in three glasses - sorry classes - one today and two tomorrow.

So I have been dress shopping for a new tv series, and partying with a reduced framily to celebrate Jim's Leeds job. Loads of other people couldn't make it for various reasons. We are both away at the end of September when we normally do a proper autumn review. Good that we are working.

The mini Do was interesting. New faces and just too much food. I ended up giving away 3 packs of bread, four cheese-cakes, two quiches, seventy three thousand sausages and a selection of outrageously expensive cheese that none of us could pronouce.

We have new neighbours who accepted the pork bangers almost reluctantly, and gave us a bottle of wine in return.....Our party remained dry, not alcoholically speaking, but weather wise, their bbq was hit by heavy rain showers.

6 people stayed in the cottage. On camp beds, on the settee up in the attic and in the small bedroom. We remained in our boudoir....

I drunk as much as I could, which wasn't very much. But I did put out a little wooden table that OLD BILL renovated 37 years ago in Wapping.

We lived on the first floor, he on the ground, round the corner near The Dickens Inn. He had been a sailor and knew his way round a chisel. The table has two side flaps that hang, when pulled out it makes for a delightful circular knotty eating area. It has pen stains and hot coffee cup rings. I put it under the tree in the newly cleared walled area. Put on a hand embroidered table cover and set two collapsible cane chairs either side of it. In the event nobody used it as all the guests huddled together near the trestle tables borrowed from the pub.

27 of us ate

Lemon Rice.

Lemon and Lime marinaded chicken.

Garlicky quinoa.




Chocolate biscuits.

I forgot the cheese cakes in the fridge.


Honey and sesame sausages.

A sizeable selection of vegetarian things from unreal sausages to unfishy scampi and unmeaty meatballs.

By 23.45 we were clearing up by torch light.

9 of us sat down for a hearty breakfast of smoked salmon, creamy scrambled eggs and cajun prawns that I whipped up to stop them going off. Big hunks of bread dipped in the buttery juices, fresh coffee and bagels that were toasted then slavered with butter.

Monday morning came too soon.

I was up at 6.15 for my first of two days for BBC Sussex. I felt like I had been sucked dry. Like a book that has been laminated, all the air had been swooshed out. BBC Sussex is such a lovely place to work though. When the producer asked me how I was I told her.

Yesterday I did another stint. Interviewed a woman I hadn't seen for 27years. Writer and nutritionist. Same age as me she described herself as semiretired. I've just talked to my bank to see if I should pay off the real mortgage and not just keep it as interest only, the conclusion was I do not have the luxury of hemi, demi, or even semi retirement. I will be working until I am 94.

My eyes are holding up, although when I take the lenses out it's like taking off a really tight pair of shoes.

Nobody knew I was seriously myopic until I was 14 and I started climbing on the wrong bus coming home from Watford Music School. Aching to eat my supper, starving after a full day of school and a full evening of Miss Spottiswood's piano practice, I would end up at the fire station having hopped on the 306 instead of the 358. Astigmatism in both eyes meant I had to wear glasses. Even now when I look at the photographs of my challenging youth I look like a sixties secretary with a Nana Mascouri bent.

It affected my playing. Having two panes of glass between me and Chopin all but killed the passion, taking them off meant Bach looked like a bad tempered clavichord.

I graduated to National Health John Lennon specs, then massive 80's frames,red, green, blue. I looked like Noel Gordon behind her reception desk in the 'Crossroads Inn.'

Today I'm juicing and making a huge tureen of veg stock even writing about it makes my mouth water.

Before I got into lenses I would act blind. And by that I don't mean I mimicked visually impaired human beings, I mean that when acting I was blind on stage. No glasses but a lot of squinting and walking into the furniture. Telly meant lenses. Either that or MASSIVE AUTO CUE.

GOOD FOOD LIVE was a compromise. I had lenses for distance and reading glasses to read my cards. I have a box of fancy schmancy readers, but it looks like I won't need them.

Jim had 20/20 vision until he didn't. I have pics of him trying to adjust to humungous frames. Now he wears vintage frames with variable lenses that go dark in the sun.

When we both wear our glasses we stand in front of each other and lean back so we can focus on each other. I swear we lose our sight, hearing and smell as we get older so that we aren't offended by our ancient partners.

Part of my juicing regime is to grow my own wheat grass.


Grow my own sunflower seeds.


Grow my own sprouts, which is terrific if you can see the instructions. The writing on the packet is so tiny I had to use a hand held magnifying glass to work out what to do. The magnifying glass with its kitsch handle is kept on the wooden calendar blocks that belonged to my mother. She died two years ago today. My father wore 'Ipcress File' black frames. My mother wore opaque frames that made her eyes look like a boss eyed haddock. And me, well I'm sitting here with my left eye streaming, my right eye winking and the soup bubbling on the back burner. At least I think that's whats happening. I may need to go and check in case I've set light to the tea towel.

Jim gets to come back this weekend so we will have his birthday together, then off he goes again to the frozen north. He wants to buy a house up there, Iive back on his old patch. Over my maimed body I told him.

So today I went into the twillage and standing outside the cobblers was a tall, lovely man, staring at me. Blow me down if it wasn't my old singing teacher.

We went to the coffee shop and caught up on years and years and years. Well not fully because one cup of Rooibosh and a Latté couldn't do all those years justice. But he reads my stuff, and asked me questions and then I felt really rotten because my insane schedule means I neglect this blog.

I will try not to.

Here's an update. I'm old. I'm making a new telly series from September 15th.

I'm going out to America again with Olly Smith to film the East Coast wine adventure.

I'm floggin Elastoplast on voice overs.

I'm working regularly for BBC Sussex.

I'm heading to the attic to start writing again. I find the sunshine really hard to ignore but now that we have the coldest August since 1492 it's easier to write. And I'm going to go on an advanced writing course.

I'm doing my advanced driving test thingy, although I keep having to cancel cos of my timetable

ALL BY MOUTH and RISK IT FOR A BISCUIT is still cheap as chips to read on iTunes....

Thats me reading lots of my blogs.

Im doing me hot yoga, and I'm having to do all the housework as my lovely cleaner is looking after he poorly ma and shocked dad.

So you see I couldn't retire even if I wanted to. I remember doing a phone in on LBC about the young having their jobs nicked by the elderly.

A geezer called in and said I was really selfish not giving up my seat. He couldn't see the filthy gesture I made. You can only imagine. I hope I'm not taking away a young persons job, they'd never do it like me after all I've had more experiences than Methuselah and thats saying something.

Bugger my reading glasses have just slipped off my nide, have I written noose? Hold on nose, nose, nose. Get a grip

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


1. At August 20, 2014 10:47 PM Amanda wrote:

Yippee, you aren't going to 'neglect' your blog. Thanks Singing Teacher.

2. At August 21, 2014 11:43 AM Lyn Misselbrook wrote:

Theoretically without my glasses, I could still pass the vision test prescribed in the driving test (but not at night) - presumably the advantage of one short-sighted eye & one longsighted eye even if complicated by astigmatisms in both! Sorry couldn't make it to the do - out of the country! love to Jim for birthday & luck for Crucible. Lyn xxx

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.