April Warmth

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 23 April 2018

I missed the two sultry days.

I was in a theatre for one of 'em and filming on the other .

I don't begrudge either but I do wish the weather had stayed balmy for just a a little bit longer.

It's overcast now, I'm wearing wooly socks and have a blanket close at hand just in case it gets any nippier.

So the old git and I drove to Tower Bridge, parked the car, and feet at the ready, pointed ourselves South. Past The Tower, down to Old Billingsgate Fish Market, then onto the Riverside Walk. The sun felt like Barcelona, the noisy drinkers in the river side pubs sounded like Barcelona. Only this wasn't Spain it was blooming Blighty. The walk was leisurely and new. I've lived for an awful long time but have never walked down by the Riverside. It was sublime.

We stopped for an ice cream, crossed the road at Waterloo bridge and waited for the 139. We were going to a birthday party in West Hampstead which commenced at 19.00 hours, Officer. We stood at the bus stop at precisely 17.00 hours, Officer. Our ETA was, we thought 18.00 hours Officer. When the bus finally arrived we lugged our way up to the top deck. I remember the days when it was full of smokers. Not today; three others, us and the announcer giving us updates every bus stop.

My partner and I started off all relaxed and giggly, like kids going on a school trip.The 139 trundled down the Strand - I lie - The 139 stopped, started, jerked, breaked, stopped, started and trickled down the Strand. The 82degree sun pouring through the windows. My hair stuck to my head, Jimbo's glasses steamed up and the giggling stopped.

By the time we got to Baker Street, we had to disembark and wait for another 139. It came. It went. We stood at the bus stop to wait for another 139 that would take us to The Alice House on West End Lane.

By now it was 18.45 Officer. We didn't want to be the first to arrive, so we consoled ourselves by knowing we would be fashionably late.

The 139 came, and rather than struggle up stairs we sat, tightly knit, in the seat that enabled us to look at the passing traffic - I lie - stationary traffic. We were less than relaxed.

We finally arrived at our destination at 19.19 Officer. The air slightly cooler.

The party was gathered. Then, like a herd of stray dogs, we were whistled down the stairs. I drunk 43 gallons of water, the 'oosbind availed himself of crisp white wine. There were hugs and 'howtodos', air kisses and 'blimylookatyousenow'. There were crisps and assorted nuts, and the birthday girl grinning from ear to ear.

Paris, Japan, America and Hackney, were gathered in the cellar. Then the food came. potato croquettes, avocado canapes, mini burgers in shiny buns, mini Yorkshire puds filled with an obnoxious pate, fishy goujons and tartare sauce, sweet corn fritters and bowls of chips. We were sat where the dishes were served so we had first dibs. I felt ever so slightly embarrassed, like we'd only come for the nosh. Okaaaay!

Happy Birthday was sung to the birthday girl and a candle lit cheese cake was presented to the Septuagenarian, she blew them out with one puff and the assembled revellers cheered. Home videos from 65 years ago had been transferred to a lap top and silence reigned. The colour had bled and faded, like an arty French movie, 15 minutes of ooing and aahing ensued and then it was time to go home. Every body hugged , air kissed and exchanged 'letsnotleaveitsolonguntilnexttime' type things and the old git and I emerged into the balmy air like country moles.

We changed our transportation. Took the tube to Bank, walked the subway until we got to Monument and then it was a delicious walk against the backdrop of the Gherkin, Shard and Walkie Talkie, past the ancient Tower, past the boats, through the Marina, into St. Katherines Dock, and our overnight stay.

Our next door neighbour, from 40 years ago, let us stay in her spare room. Crispy towels, sweet sheets and the knowledge that we were next to the flat we'd lived in for years before we buggered off to East Sussex.

I couldn't sleep, a kid on her first sleepover.

I woke early, dressed, slid through the gate - erected when we left - onto a wide promenade by the river. Turner would have recorded the scene. Sun splashing the Thames, gulls and boats, even Butlers Wharf looked hand painted. Then we set off for breakfast in the Marina.

The sun baking. I had Granola and yogurt the old man had bacon and scrambled eggs, and our hostess had a full English. The Brazilian waiter, tattooed and perfectly formed, brought us icy water and strong coffee. When the sun hit the yard arm we walked up the steps to Tower Bridge, turned right and stood outside the Royal Mint for the RV1.

A one seater bus ride. With an ex-steelworker from Sheffield who told us how to travel on British Rail without paying a fortune. Another passenger joined in, on her way to Bournemouth, delighted that she had eavesdropped. Old people having a chat. No aching feet, no sweaty howsyourfathers, and we arrived at 11.30 but five minutes walk from The Globe.

Th dawter arrived at noon, we drunk a drink in a riverside hostel then we took our seats in the Sam Wannamaker Theatre for a candle lit production of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, reimagined by 6 musicians, 6 puppeteers, and a full house. As the sun burned on the outside, the rapt audience yearned on the inside. I cried at the beauty of it all. The wooden puppets coming alive. A man, a woman, a baby, a cat. Wars, pain and resurrection. The music churning the heart. A woman sitting next to me had on a perfect perfume, which completed the Synesthesthetic experience. We went out into the bright sunlight 75 minutes later.

We drunk some more, talked to a Veteran of The Falklands War, homeless and needy. He said that so many off his friends had died for this country.

'Sacrificed.' you mean said Jim.

'You're not wrong there Jimmy.' said the old soldier.

Then the girl went East and we went South.

Home with enough time to catch the last of the scented evening.

All day Friday we filmed, in the cottage. Four little films about the NHS. We have learnt about terrifying skullduggery. When they are completed I will post them on Facebook.

Saturday I drove an old friend and I to Brighton to attend an Energy Course. 11 women, 2 facilitators, meditations, stories shared, tears shed, numbers exchanged, lives altered. Dr. Susan Phoenix had risen from the ashes of her own tragedy and turned her life round to help others. I interviewed her on Radio Sussex. She was a military nurse, her husband had died on the Mull of Kintyre when his Chinook helicopter had crashed. Ten hours later, at 4.00a.m. Sue, her daughter and son, felt her husbands presence. Dr. Phoenix's psychic abilities, which she'd buried since her childhood, kicked in. She now works as an holistic psychologist helping people heal their 'soul' pain. It's all dead scientific so the sceptical amongst you would be placated. Check her out. Barbara Whiteside, also gave up a lucrative career to help heal humanity. From 10.00 till 5.00 we sat, lay, stood on the carpet in the Holiday Inn, a place lacking in any kind of beauty, but thirteen of us transcended the lousy lunch and lack of loos.

On the way out of Brighton, the sea fret hung in the air. We stopped off for fresh coriander and a bottle of pink Fizz, to celebrate the end of a ridiculous week.

Yesterday I was poleaxed. Drunk two cans of Guinness and fell asleep in the sun reading the papers. After scallops and stir-fry we settled down to watch Will Millard living with a tribe in Papua New Guinea, then it was time for bed. I slept the sleep of the grateful.

It's now 17.00 hundred hours, Officer, a whole pot of Lap Sang has been downed, my feet are warm, the old git's back from buying wood for a new front door, and i'm settling down to some proper writing - whatever that is.

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

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